Sponsored by Animals Asia, Ms Jianghong, the founder of Xi'an Small Animals Rescue Center and representatives of several local animal-welfare groups spent three days in Hanzhong city and the surrounding countryside in Shaanxi Province. They gathered evidence on the cull and spoke with local officials, offering their help with alternative methods of dog control.
They met with a government officer in Hanzhong and offered advice on how to control rabies, passing on an original letter from Animals Asia, which we had previously faxed to them, offering advice on dog population and disease control, as well as help with a vaccination programme.
However, the dog culling continues, with city officials adamant that killing all dogs is the most reliable and fastest way to control disease. They argue that the death of nine people from rabies is adequate reason to clear the area of dogs, whether strays or companions, vaccinated or not.
Outside of Hanzhong city, the team was shocked to discover no dogs at all in the village of Yangxian and the surrounding areas, which had mobilised residents to go out and kill any dog they came across in an effort to make the area dog-free.
Local animal welfare group representatives confront a dog culling team.
The team has also discovered that the area where the dogs are being buried is not subject to any regulation and there is a grave danger that their decaying bodies will pollute the drinking water throughout Shaanxi Province.
With the help of Jianghong, local dog owners grouped together and, supported by more than 200 local residents in Hanzhong city, held a poignant lakeside ceremony to mourn the dogs victimised and brutally killed.
Led by Jianghong (far right), residents hold a moving ceremony in mourning for the dogs slaughtered.
In a positive development, local people have now set up Hanzhong Animal Protection Association through which they will press the case for responsible animal welfare and the right to raise their dogs without fear.
Jianghong and her team are now collating their information and will let us have their report as soon as possible. They will also be presenting it to the Shaanxi Province government in the hope that it will influence the city officials to implement proper rabies controls and never cull dogs in the future.