dog attack
The death of an 11-year-old Chinese boy after being attacked by a pack of dogs in northern China has triggered a fresh round of debate about how to regulate the surging number of pets in the country.

Li Furun was mauled by four dogs in a deserted factory while playing near his home in Handan, Hebei province, last Thursday, local police said this week.

The boy's body was found in the factory on Sunday about 1.5km away from his home, authorities said in a statement. The boy had been reported missing by his family three days earlier.

Police officers detained a person surnamed Fan, who owned all of the dogs. He is facing a potential charge of manslaughter, which could lead to a jail sentence of up to 7 years, according to Chinese law.

Li Furun died after he was attacked by dogs at a deserted factory where he was playing.
© Weibo
Li Furun died after he was attacked by dogs at a deserted factory where he was playing.
The dogs were not registered, as required by law. Authorities said the animals "have been dealt with according to the law", a euphemism for being euthanised.

The tragedy has been one of the most popular discussion topics on Weibo since Thursday and the incident sparked another debate about how China is regulating its rising number of pets.

The dramatic increase in pet numbers has led to conflicts between owners and neighbours, leading local governments to issue pet ownership regulations. Those rules sometimes spark controversies, such as an aborted plan in Yunnan in southwest China that would have banned dog walking, including killing the dog if the owner was caught three times.

A national law was enforced in May last year requiring all dogs to be leashed and wear a dog badge issued by the government while walking outside their home.

However, cases of children being assaulted by dogs still repeatedly make the headlines, especially in suburban or rural areas, where pet owners are often ignorant of national or local rules.

In April, another boy, aged 8, from a village in Chongqing municipality, died on his way to school after being attacked by three unleashed dogs raised by a fellow villager.

Earlier this month, another 8-year-old boy from Hunan province in central China suffered a severe injury to his face after being attacked by a stray dog, which was believed to have been abandoned by its owner. The local government in the area responded with a controversial countermeasure after the accident, ordering the killing of all unleashed dogs, following the logic that they are likely to be feral.

Professor Qian Yefang, from the law school under Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, urged communities to establish supervising teams to ensure those rules were enforced.

"We can see advertisements telling people to keep pets in a civilised way in nearly every residential community today, but we need more than that. We need people to supervise," she said.