The Chinese Communist campaign against animals that is most talked about is the Four Pests campaign of the late 1950s launched against various pests and sparrows. However, the extermination of dogs in wartime seems to be another interesting example.
In a report by the Japanese military giving an overview of Chinese Communist wartime economic measures taken in northern China, we find the following little detail:
The raising of dogs was banned [by the Communist party] and Dog Killing Squads were sent out on patrol in an attempt to exterminate them. This was done not only because the dogs consume provisions, their barking could also potentially expose the nighttime maneuvers of Communist forces.1
Of course, the abandonment, killing, or eating of pets in wartime to prevent the waste of valuable provisions (or if they are consumed, to make up for a lack of nourishment) is nothing new, but I found the formal establishment of dog extermination patrols both for that reason and to end the problem of their barking interesting. It reminds me of the scene in Waltz with Bashir in which Israeli soldiers in the Lebanese war kill barking dogs in the night in a village raid.
Are there other historical examples of these kinds of formal dog extermination units?
Update: Thanks to a comment from RPC and Google Books, I found another reference in David Kidd’s Peking Story. It speaks of a surprise raid a section of the city by Communist troops, “after it had first been reconnoitred by the Night People (who, no doubt, had themselves been preceded by the dog exterminators)…” (p136)
防衛庁防衛研修所戦史室 『北支の治安戦』1968, Volume 1, p207. They use 殺犬隊 here in Japanese, but I’m guessing the Chinese called it 殺狗隊. ↩
there’s a moving anecdote on just this in david kidd’s peking story, out from the new york review of books classics collection last year or so I think.
I can’t find it offhand, but Feng Zikai did a couple of really striking cartoons of wartime dogs, one of which was carrying off a human foot. Possibly in wartime the problem of feral dogs became more severe than normal and killing them (before they kill us) made some sense.
Interesting. The other important mention of dogs and cartoons of dogs that is important for me is the frequent depiction of running dogs (走狗). I’ll include some of these running dog cartoons in my dissertation in the chapter on definitions, depictions, and discourse on treason in China/Korea.