Tens of thousands of letters from concerned animal lovers around the world and across China have persuaded Chinese President Hu Jintao to halt a national anti-dog crackdown. The "South China Morning Post" quoted the Chinese President as saying he "was unhappy about the complaints and international media coverage" of the crackdown.
Police in Beijing and other Chinese cities sparked outrage by entering the homes of dog owners and confiscating dogs that were either unlicensed or over 35 centimeters (14 inches) tall. Some dogs were reportedly beaten to death in front of their owners.
The deluge of letters included one that was signed by 60,000 animal lovers from across China. It created the pressure for the police to stop the crackdown, according to a statement by the Beijing Police Bureau to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, IFAW, which spearheaded a letter-writing campaign in opposition to the crackdown.
"IFAW now hopes the Chinese government will take the next step and work on reforming Beijing's dog regulations so that responsible dog ownership will be promoted and Beijing can welcome the 2008 Olympics with a humane regulation that is scientifically based," said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW Asia director.
In an open letter of thanks to President Hu, Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of the Animals Asia Foundation, said," While we fully understand the need to prevent an outbreak of the deadly rabies virus, the savage slaughter of dogs, many of which are much-loved family pets, is not the answer."
In her letter, Robinson recommends that authorities undertake "comprehensive and compulsory registration, microchip identification, vaccination and de-sexing programmes, as well as affordable dog training centres." "We would also like to strongly suggest that the authorities consider raising taxes for pet breeders and pet shops and that all dog markets are closed immediately," she writes.
The crackdown started in Beijing at the end of October. Officials said it was necessary to fight rabies which claimed 318 lives across China in September. Officials estimate there are about one million dogs in Beijing, a city of nearly 13 million people.