A legal practitioner has called on authorities to improve the country's laws on pet attacks, saying that in most cases owners bear no criminal liability even if their animals cause someone's death.
The issue has come to the forefront after three pet wolf dogs attacked and killed a 4-year-old boy in the Liujuniu village of Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Nov 26.
"As far as I know, the country does not have any specific laws on pet attacks," Wang Yi, a lawyer with the city's Hede Law Firm, said yesterday.
"I think the present legal system is imperfect and needs to be improved."
Xiao Wei was bitten to death by the wolf dogs right outside the house of a villager surnamed Kang, who owns the dogs, China Youth Daily reported yesterday.
Xiao's mother had gone looking for him when she spotted the dogs biting her son, who was lying motionless in his own pool of blood.
"I picked up my son in my arms and begged Kang to drive us to the hospital, but he refused," Xiao's mother Zhao was quoted as saying.
Kang has been in criminal detention for "endangering public security" since the fatal attack.
According to villagers, Kang often organized gambling sessions at his house and the "dogs would bark to signal an alarm if the police arrived".
A local regulation forbids residents from raising large dogs like wolf dogs since 2005. But lax supervision encourages similar incidents, lawyer Wang Yi said.
"What will happen now is, the dogs' owner will only bear civil liability as he didn't instigate his pets to kill the boy," Wang said.
"Yes, the families of the injured or the deceased are compensated, but no compensation can bring back the dead," he said.
In 2006, a 6-year-old boy was bitten to death by two wolf dogs in Shanxi province. The dogs' owner surnamed Cui was released after he paid 350,000 yuan ($51,000) to the boy's parents.
"Our legislators should keep trying their best to improve laws to better protect victims' interests," Wang said.