PUBLIC outrage in China over photographs of laboratory dogs lying muzzled and abandoned on the roof of a medical school building spotlights changing attitudes to animal rights, animal welfare groups say.
The pictures and video, taken by animal rights activists in the central city of Xi’an (西安), went viral on social media platforms this week, sparking widespread revulsion at the treatment of the animals.
In a statement, the Xi’an Medical University (西安醫學院) said an internal inquiry determined that personnel acted improperly in dealing with the animals’ bodies, and promised to step up oversight and temporarily suspend animal testing.
Using dogs in experiments was legal, however, and no rules had been violated in conducting the tests, it added.
Pet ownership, denounced as an unacceptable materialistic habit after the Communist Party (共產黨) took power in China, is becoming popular again among the country’s growing middle class.
Pet ownership and better education on animal welfare have fuelled greater sympathy for animal rights among the public, said Karina O’Carroll, an official of Hong Kong welfare group Animals Asia (亞洲動物基金).
“There has been a change in the past five years,” she said.
Nearly half the 3,221 respondents in a survey published by the group in June felt that killing dogs and cats for their meat should be illegal in China, Animals Asia said on its website.
Dog meat is consumed as a traditional dish in some parts of China, and Chinese activists protested against a large dog meat festival in the southern town of Yulun (玉林) in June.
Ministry of Science and Technology (科技部) rules ban animal torture and abuse, and require researchers to cause the animals “minimum fright and pain” during tests.
(This article is published on The Student Standard on 15 December 2015)
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