A Shenzhen plan that allows the mercy killing of stray dogs, which are not adopted for more than 14 days, has sparked controversy on whether it is the best way to manage strayed animals.
The urban management department of Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province issued a notice, soliciting public opinions for a draft decree on dog management, the People's Daily reported on Monday.
For dogs that are dangerous and aggressive and those that have not been adopted for more than 14 days, the relevant departments can perform painless euthanasia, the draft said.
Many netizens stressed that animals have a right to exist, just like people - that taking their lives is inhumane, and it is the dogs' owners who abandon their pets should be punished rather than the animals themselves.
Those against the decision also questioned how the 14-day duration was calculated, saying fortnight is too short for a dog to be adopted.
Others, however, hailed the government's plan, saying stray dogs pose a hidden danger, such as rabies, and animal protectors should provide a practicable way to solve this issue rather than just complaining and wasting the whole city's money feeding the dogs.
The draft states that the dog admission center should look for and notify potential dog owners within seven days after the institution receives the unadopted canines.
"Stray dogs are costly to maintain. Many people also don't want to pay, and it is difficult to reach a consensus," said Zhang Yiwu, a cultural expert from the Peking University
The bureau explained in an attachment on its website that they launched the move because a large number of dogs were abandoned due to the growing population of dogs, and local authorities have received lots of complaints in recent years about citizens being annoyed or attacked by stray canines.
"Euthanizing unclaimed stray dogs is also being done in other parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe," Zhang stated.
He noted that the government should focus more on supervising dog owners, such as feeding procedures, epidemic prevention, dog tracking and penalties for dog owners who abandon dogs.
Many cities in China have promulgated pet dog regulations over concerns about the mess they make and reported accidents. Police in Ji'nan, East China's Shandong Province introduced a penalty point system for dog owners in 2017. The system states they need to attend classes to learn about regulations on dog management.