Experts are calling for more specific regulations and stricter enforcement of laws on dog management as a way to prevent people from using such extreme measures as poison to deal with problems with canines.
The comments were prompted by a WeChat post that triggered heated discussions as it professed to teach people how to use drugs to kill unleashed dogs.
The post claimed that it was the only way dog owners could be forced to put a leash and muzzle on their dogs and handle their dogs according to the law, according to the post, which has since been deleted.
Guan Xinping, a professor at the Social Construction and Management School at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that most cities in China have regulations on handling dogs stipulating that owners will be punished if their pets are not registered or are running free outside or if their enclosures are not cleaned.
"But the local regulations are not comprehensive and have unclear penalties," he said. "Some owners who don't abide by the regulations, such as having dogs unleashed, have received no warnings or punishments at all.
"As China is increasingly a nation of dog owners, more specific regulations and stricter law enforcement is required to protect the public's interests."
Liu Lin, a lawyer at the Beijing Shuangli Law Firm, said: "Not abiding by safety measures such as leash and muzzle requirements for dogs is likely to cause damage to others and may even violate the law. But killing and poisoning animals to solve the problem is also against the law and public morality."
As of 2017, Chinese families have 27 million pet dogs in cities and nearly 100 million in the countryside, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Some cities have come up with innovative ideas to solve the problem.
Jinan, Shandong province, introduced a point system in January 2017, targeting dog owners who walk their pets without a leash and fail to carry a proper certificate. Owners that reach 12 points are required to undergo training related to pet ownership and will have their animals temporarily confiscated.
People whose dogs disturb others' lives will have three points added for a first offense and six points for a second offense. Owners can participate in various activities to remove points as well. Upon reaching 12 points, or a third offense, the owner must complete a training program on keeping dogs.
During the past 18 months, 1,430 dog owners in the city were fined. Of those, 122 had 12 points deducted and were required to study regulations on keeping a dog.
"The simplistic and offensive killing of dogs with poison will never solve the problem, and it will, on the contrary, encourage violence in society," said Yao Yue, Better Life for Dogs campaign manager of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Yao said any problem that dogs create is ultimately the responsibility of dog owners and management departments. As long as there is an effective mechanism followed by serious punishment, the owners will learn their lessons and abide by the regulations, she said.