5 December 2023
Fact checkMisleading

Misleading: Photo of dog disposal not related to Beijing Olympics

The photo shows a dog cull in Yunnan Province in April 2006.

A tweet on Jan.18 showed a photo of a man in black throwing what appears to be a carcass of a dog into a truck. The post said “Wonder what China is doing to homeless pets before #Beijing Olympics?” implying that this was done in preparation for the Winter Olympics in February in Beijing.

The tweet has at least 175 retweets, 30 quote tweets and 145 likes since it was posted in January.

However, the claim is misleading. The photo actually shows a dog cull in Luoping, a county in eastern Yunnan in 2006.  It has nothing to do with the recent Winter Olympics held in the country’s capital.

The news image was originally captured and distributed by EyePress, a Hong Kong-based photo agency.

On EyePress’s platform, its caption reads:

LUOPING, CHINA – An official throws a dog beaten to death by wooden sticks into a collecting van on a street in Luoping county in southwestern Yunnan province, China, April 29, 2006. The officials are carrying a new local administrative order to kill-on-the-spot when they find any dogs, unwanted or belongs to someone, on the street in order to keep the city clean.​
A screenshot of the Eyepress platform, showing a photo of an officer throwing a dog and its corresponding metadata. (Courtesy: Eyepress)
A screenshot of a photo series of dog culling in Luoping on the Eyepress website. (Courtesy: Eyepress)

“The picture was filed in our newsfeed on April 29, 2006. It was picked up and licensed to AP.” Don Ng, the news editor from Eyepress told Annie Lab via Email. AP refers to the news agency Associated Press.

According to state-controlled broadcaster CCTV, the dog cull started in Luoping on April 6, 2006, because over 1,000 people were injured by dogs.

The news article, which was also posted on Sina News, says the large-scale culling took place also because Luoping was applying for the National Health City for Travel (国家级旅游卫生城市) certification and dog feces were seen as obstacles for the application.

Dozens of police officers reportedly used a wooden stick to beat the dogs to death and 145 street dogs were killed by April 25.

Several English-language news outlets such as the New York Times and The Guardian also reported on the dog cull in China in 2006 with the same photo.

The Guardian mistakenly attributed it to the dog cull in Mouding, another county in Yunnan province, however. Annie Lab was able to confirm there was another dog cull in Mouding county in the same year.

According to Sina News, which cited a report from local newspaper Sheng Huo Xin Bao (生活新報), the operation began on July 25 after three people, including a four-year-old girl, died from rabies and another 360 residents became infected with rabies.

When Beijing hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, some alleged street dogs were culled before the international sporting event.

The one dog per household policy was implemented in Beijing in 2006 to combat rabies and many cities in China adopted similar policies since.