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Chinese City Orders Pet Dogs Killed

All pet dogs will be killed in a district of the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing as part of an anti-rabies campaign, the government said.

Residents of the city's Wanzhou district have until March 15 to hand over their dogs, according to a directive seen Wednesday on the district's official Web site.

"All the dogs in the area should be killed. A compulsory cull phase will begin after March 16. The forced cull will be carried out by the police," the directive said.

The statement said government guard dogs and those animals kept for research institutions, military and commercial purposes would be spared.

Officials have rounded up dogs in other cities, such as Beijing, as they crack down on strays and unregistered pets.

A spokesman at Wanzhou's Health Department refused to comment about the cull.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper on Wednesday quoted a Wanzhou health official, Ran Hua, as saying the move would combat rabies in the area. He said three cases have been reported within the last year, and the paper said one person died last month.

The slaughter of 50,000 dogs for similar reasons last August in Mouding county prompted sharp criticism from the press.

The official newspaper Legal Daily blasted the killings as an "extraordinarily crude, cold-blooded and lazy way for the government to deal with epidemic disease."

"Wiping out the dogs shows these government officials didn't do their jobs right in protecting people from rabies in the first place," the newspaper, published by the central government's Politics and Law Committee, said in an editorial in its online edition.

More than 2,000 people die from rabies each year in China.

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