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Will Beijing Slaughter Dogs Over Plague?

The Chinese government now blames outbreak of pneumonic plague that killed 3 people in central Qinghai province on a dog. If I were a Chinese dog, I’d be going into hiding about now.

Beijing has a habit of mass dog culls to fix (or at least assuage anger over) health problems. In 2006, government workers beat 50,000 dogs to death in the streets after they were blamed for causing three deaths from rabies. Despite world outrage and nausea, the practice continues. In May another 20,000 dogs were brutally dispatched, some on film.

Professor Wang Hu director of the Qinghai disease control bureau told Xinhua that the first to die, a 32-year-old herdsman, had just buried his dog, who might have gotten plague from a marmot he ate.

That may all be true, but I’d bet that Beijing’s desire to cast blame and their hostility to dogs may play a role. There are a couple problems with the theory. Dogs can get plague, but they usually don’t get that sick from it. Pneumonic plague doesn’t need to be spread by fleas and blood like bubonic plague; pneumonic plague is airborne.

Unless there are already undercover cameras in that isolated town like there were at the May dog slaughter, we probably won’t find out how many dogs they kill over this.

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