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July 12, 2012

Celebrating a First for China

Weixian County implements humane animal control

Humane Society International

  • Kelly O'Meara addresses the audience. FQ Yu 2012

  • The panel of speakers. FQ Yu 2012

by Paulette Senior

HSI is celebrating Weixian County, China for becoming the first county in the country to fully implement a humane animal control program.

Kelly O’Meara, director of Companion Animals and Engagement for Humane Society International, and Peter Li, HSI China Specialist, recently traveled to Weixian, a rural, agricultural county five hours south of Beijing that is home to half a million farmers and 110,000 household dogs, to give presentations at the formal launch of the program. The “Dog Ownership Management and Scientific Rabies Prevention Project” is a collaboration by HSI, Beijing’s Capital Animal Welfare Association, the Weixian government and the Weixian Animal Protection Association.

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“HSI is proud to be a part of this pilot project,” commented O’Meara. “It is amazing to see the drastic change for animals happening in China” just in the four years since she last visited, she said.

Exciting progress

Evidence of this sea change is not hard to find. As one example, O'Meara pointed to an incident where trucks with cages full of dogs destined for slaughter were forced over to the side of the road by local animal advocates. "The dogs were being transported under terrible conditions and it was sheer courage and love for animals that resulted in their being confiscated and put under the care of animal welfare groups,” O’Meara said. An animal welfare law does not exist in China yet protecting these animals from such cruelty and neglect but the strong, united voice of the emerging Chinese animal welfare movement is finally being heard, she believes.

Dog culls used to be a common means of “animal control” in China, but this brutal method is becoming a thing of the past. China wants to be seen as part of the developed world and can afford to make these needed improvements.

Multiple benefits

Dr. Tang, a senior researcher at the China National Disease Control Center, also affirmed the importance of the Weixian project with regard to rabies. “People across the country should realize that we activists are not simply fighting for the decent treatment of non-human animals,” she said. “We are also fighting to safeguard public health.”

Setting a trend

This new, first-of-its-kind program in Weixian County is evidence of the progress being made for animal welfare in China. Weixian is a pioneer blazing a path, and other places will follow in time. HSI intends to continue our support and guidance of local groups and governments making a real difference for animals in China.

“We believe that the [Weixian] project, if successful, will not only benefit the local community and dog population,” O’Meara explained, “but also serve as a rural animal protection model for the rest of the country.” Give today to make a difference for animals.

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