9. Freedom: Keep on rockin’ in the firewalled world

To call a golden retriever ugly is tantamount to blasphemy in the United States. Not so in Harbin, the frigid northeastern capital of Heilongjiang Province. In spring 2012, the city’s officials issued a regulation that demanded that dog owners dispose of “large-sized and ugly and scary dogs,” including golden and Labrador retrievers, chow chows, and mastiffs, among 45 other breeds.1 The authority’s justification was preposterous, simply stating that while the dogs do not bite, they seem to “frighten” citizens. Once given up, the dogs were most likely to be handed over to a shadowy network of canine traffickers and destined for the slaughterhouse. At least that’s what many residents believed. ...

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