BEIJING - A Chinese city is using dogs to predict earthquakes, an official said Tuesday, after state-run media reported that neighbors were complaining of nightly false alarms -- in the form of barking.
China is regularly hit by seismic tremors. Around 200 people were left dead or missing by a quake in Sichuan province last month, and hundreds of thousands have been killed in major disasters in the past.
The earthquake authority of Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province in the east, keeps dogs since they will "act abnormally when an earthquake is coming", sometimes up to 10 days in advance, an official surnamed Song told AFP.
The bureau used the dogs at the request of the provincial government, he added, saying that chickens and ducks could be effective as well.
But neighbors are complaining on social media about the animals' nightly howling, according to the official provincial news website Dajiang.
"The compound of the Nanchang earthquake authority has I don't know how many dogs, every night at 11 pm they start barking over and over," it quoted one as saying.
Song told AFP the dogs had now been sent to a lower-level earthquake bureau in the city but denied they had been barking.
However Dajiang quoted him as saying the dogs could be muzzled to accommodate residents' concerns.
Asked if that would stop them carrying out their predictive function, he agreed and said he would ask his boss what to do about that, it reported.