Court Battle After Tibetan Mastiff Dog Dies During Facelift Surgery

BEIJING — The Tibetan mastiff is a breed of dog prized for its hardy build and exotic beauty.

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(photo: Pleple2000)

Though now domesticated, it traces its origins to ancient times when it roamed the highlands of Central Asia. Here's one in its native stomping ground on the Tibetan mountain of Gonggar.

[rebelmouse-image 27087860 alt="""" original_size="576x768" expand=1]

(photo: Dennis Jarvis)

But in recent years, owning a handsome Tibetan Mastiff has become a major status symbol in cash-happy China. But the craze has lately reached extremes. For the past year, Beijing News reports, a courtroom drama has been playing out after the owner of one of the prized dogs that had died prematurely filed suit. Cause of death? Complications during plastic surgery.

[rebelmouse-image 27087861 alt="""" original_size="309x599" expand=1]

The owner, identified as Mr. Yu, and the owner of a pet shop, says he paid 880,000 RMB ($144,000) for the dog. Yu said it is not the first time he has sent a dog in for cosmetic surgery, which apparently makes them even more attractive to buyers.

In this case, he had decided that the Tibetan mastiff in question had asymmetrical hair growth on his face, and therefore needed a “lift.”

The competition for good looks is tough indeed. Look at this beauty!

[rebelmouse-image 27087862 alt="""" original_size="640x454" expand=1]

(photo:Tibetdoctor)

But this time, it didn't end pretty, and the dog died during surgery. Beijing News reports that the veterinarian had used an unapproved anesthetic, as well as acepromazine, which was determined to have resulted in the dog’s death.

Yu took the animal hospital to court last year claiming damages, based on the market price of the dog. The court found the animal hospital fully responsible for the dog's death, and it ordered it to pay around half the value that Yu cited, some 450,000 RMB ($70,000).

But apparently, no one is happy. The animal hospital director, noting that the surgery only cost 1,400 RMB ($230), said he has no way of paying such a sum: "That's an astronomical sum!" he declared in court last week. "Even a coalminer's death is compensated only for by 200,000 RMB in this country. Is a Tibetan mastiff's life worth more than that of two coalminers?"

Yu shouted back: "Your 450,000 is money and my 880,000 isn't!?," Beijing News reported. No date for the final verdict has yet been set.

This is not the first time a Tibetan mastiff has made news in China. Last summer, there were allegations that a zoo in Henan province was trying to pass off one of the dogs as a lion. You can hear it "roar" in the video below.

cover photo: Melanie Ko

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