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March 10, 2008
Cat holocaust in China by R. Moran
There are few countries on earth where a government could get away with this:
Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games. The toll may reach into the hundreds of thousands of animals. The government performed a similar "culling" last year with dogs:
Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around. Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.
The cull comes in the wake of a government campaign warning of the diseases cats carry and ordering residents to help clear the streets of them..
But the crackdown on cats is seen by animal campaigners as just one of a number of extreme measures being taken by communist leaders to ensure that its capital appears clean, green and welcoming during the Olympics.
Dogs being walked were seized from their owners and beaten to death on the spot, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported. The government tactic of using fear to scare people into abandoning their pets is positively medieval. And the brutal way that the authorities dispose of the animals cries out for exposure:
Led by the county police chief, killing teams entered villages at night creating noise to get dogs barking, then beat the animals to death, the reports said. Owners were offered 63 cents per animal to kill their own dogs before the teams were sent in, they said.
The killings were widely discussed on the Internet, with both legal scholars and animal rights activists criticizing them as crude and cold-blooded. The World Health Organization said more emphasis needed to be placed on rabies prevention.
"Disease spreads quickly among them and they die slowly in agony and distress. The government won't even do the cats the kindness of giving them lethal injections when they become sick. They just wait for them to die. Being a cat lover, I felt compelled to write about this story in detail. There have already been calls on the internet to boycott watching the Olympics on TV or even boycotting advertisers.
"It is the abandoned pets that suffer the most and die the soonest. They relied so much on their owners that they can't cope with the new environment.
"Most refuse to eat or drink and get sick more quickly than the feral cats." Ms Yan's group has now been denied access to the pounds. "We do not believe any of the cats that go in there survive," she said. "They are like death camps."
Whatever is done, it will be too late to save the cats of China from suffering horrific, needless deaths.