Dogs are waiting to be adopted at a pet adoption event on April 13, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]
A number of deputies to the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, have called for legislation mandating punishment for those who abuse animals, as many such cases have been reported across the country in recent years.
"Animal abuse is a kind of dangerous behavior that not only violates public order and disregards social ethics, but also infringes on the safety of people's lives and property. That should be fought and punished through legislation necessarily and promptly," said Zhu Lieyu, an NPC deputy from Guangdong province.
Zhu, also a lawyer from Guangdong Guoding Law Firm, submitted a motion at the fourth session of the 13th NPC calling for the drafting of a law against animal abuse, noting that the absence of legislation makes such behavior hard to penalize.
It was the fourth time that Zhu had put forward such a bill at an annual session of the NPC. His constant focus and suggestions on the issue came after several animal abuse cases triggered public outrage but ended without punishment.
Last year, for example, a video in which a man poured boiling water on a pregnant cat in a cage went viral after it was posted online. The cat, with four unborn kittens, died after being taken to a veterinary hospital, and the man, an employee of a security company in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, was taken to a police station for investigation.
The security company terminated the man's contract and provided 5,000 yuan ($730) to the veterinary hospital for the cat's treatment, while the man's family apologized, saying such an incident would not happen again.
Similar abuse has happened in the past few years in other provinces including Shandong and Zhejiang.
The Wild Animal Protection Law bans the trafficking and abuse of wildlife, "but there is no law specializing in handling the abuse of domesticated animals," Zhu said.
"The absence of such a law may easily bring online battles or even bigger conflicts between animal protectors and such abusers.
"We urgently need a law, both to punish those who harm animals and regulate activities in protecting animals."
In his motion this year, he suggested the top legislature first clarify the animal species involved, including pets, wildlife and those used for lab tests, and then provide targeted countermeasures.
Zhu said many countries, such as France, the United Kingdom and Germany, have such laws.
During this year's NPC session, which concluded last week, several other NPC deputies, including Shawo Drolma from Qinghai province, and Ning Qishui from Shaanxi province, also called for legislation targeting the abuse of animals.
Shawo Drolma said the country has to strengthen supervision of pet purchases and reproduction management to contain stray animals from the root, while Ning suggested schools provide students with more education on how to care for and protect animals while raising them.
The top legislature and government departments have also paid attention to the issue, but whether to draft a special law to fight the abuse or punish abusers under current laws is still being studied, with a clear answer yet to emerge.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in 2019 that it was necessary to improve legislation to stop people harming animals, as the existing measures seem ineffective in solving the problem.