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Cull of rabid-dogs incites online fury

THE dog looked into the camera innocently, wagging its tail under the shadow of a tree, unaware of the three men approaching with long bamboo poles in hand.

In the following seconds, it was beaten on the back and head and left in a pool of blood.

The video, widely circulated online, roused nationwide anger among animal-lovers but it wasn't a classic case of abuse. It was a government attempt to stop the spread of rabies.

The video was shot in Hanzhong in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province by an unidentified observer.

On May 23, in response to increasing rabies cases, the Hanzhong city government ordered that all dogs in rabies-infected villages be killed. More than 34,000 dogs were killed as of Thursday, according to the local government.

The human stories were no less heart-wrenching.

Li Yajun, 42, died of rabies on May 28 in Licun Village, Yangxian County in Hanzhong.

Working as a security guard in a county hotel, he was bitten by a pet dog on his finger around April 20 but didn't seek medical attention. Two weeks later, he began to suffer from stomach- and headaches, nausea, panic and photophobia.

"He was like a crazy man," said his wife Bi Xiaoxian. "From May 26, he began to scratch everything, bite hands and the quilt. He couldn't urinate so his belly was swollen."

The family sent him to the hospital on May 22, three days after he first showed symptoms, but it was too late.

Since March, rabies has broken out in five counties of Hanzhong. As of Friday, about 8,600 people had been bitten or scratched by dogs and 12 had died of rabies.

"Many have gotten hurt and the situation is getting worse. What else can we do?" said Yang Jian, deputy chief of the agricultural department of Hanzhong, in an interview with Phoenix TV on June 4.

In late May, the government of Heihe in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province announced a ban against dogs in the city and four villages under its administration.

Dog killings also took place in Chongqing Municipality, Shandong, Yunnan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the past three years, all to control rabies.



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