Making Money on Roadkill

So in Jiangxi on the way back from Wuyuan our bus got stopped for 30-40 minutes at a toll booth. It turned out that a ways back our driver had hit a dog. He knew he had, but the dog had come out of nowhere, and it definitely didn’t make it. We kept going. The owner saw the bus hit his dog and took off after our bus on his motorbike. He caught up to us at the toll booth.

The owner demanded 500 rmb as compensation for the dog. Now, I love dogs, and my sympathies are with the owner, but 500 rmb is an outrageous amount. The dogs in the countryside are all mongrels that just roam around.

The owner’s motivations were clear. We wondered if he was even the owner. He might have just been a guy that saw the dog get hit. None of the dogs we saw in Jiangxi wore collars or anything. Some of my classmates were joking that maybe he raises dogs just to chuck them in front of out-of-town tourist buses.

The taxi driver and the dog owner argued for quite some time while we all sat in the bus. Eventually police came to mediate. In the end the driver had to pay 300 rmb.

I felt a little bad about assuming the guy was merely a blatant opportunist. Maybe the dog actually did mean a lot to him. But then as we pulled away I got a look at him. He had quite a grin on his face.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Hey John, that’s amazing the guy got 300rmb. I dont even know how that would be treated in America except that dog owner taking the driver to small claims court and demanding the “value” in his dog to be paid by the drivers insurance company. Watch China implode as lawyers infiltrate – I cant even imagine the madness. If China ever lets up and gives into litigation and lawyers and courts and all the paper trails, watch out.

  2. The bus actually saved him time by slaughtering the dog for free. It was probably destined for a dinner plate anyway.

  3. On what grounds did the driver have to pay the man 300RMB? Could the man prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the dog was in fact his? Was the dog wearing a collar with the name of his owner on it? Is the highway a normal place for dogs to be? What laws govern dogs getting hit on highways? Sounds like a lack of rule of law to me.

  4. DalianDragon Says: March 27, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    You KNOW that the cop got a “kick-back” from that one!

    As soon as the bus was outta sight, 100 of that went into the cop’s pocket and the rest to the “dog owner”.

    It only makes sense once you realize how crooked the cops in China are. If the cop sided with the bus driver, he wouldn’t get ANYTHING to line his pockets

  5. I saw this thing on Chinese TV today that was showing a scam where a lady would come up to another lady who had just taken money out of an ATM and try and sell her a porn DVD. Then a cop would show up on the scene to investigate. The cop would find the DVD’s in the sellers jacket, and then search the other lady to see if she bought anything. He would find one in her jacket (that had been slipped in by the seller) and demand to search her bag. If her bag was empty, he’d let her go. While searching the bag, the fake cop would steal all her cash, hand the bag back, and let her go, relieved to have it over with.

    If you’re roadkill guy was a scam artist, maybe he had a fake cop as well. Or a real cop, who is just as crooked.

  6. absolutely ridiculous ! how could they prove the dog is actually that man’s ? But I assume it must be the cop who wants some money from this accident too… That happens a lot in China. I was cheated in Lijiang too , the similar way. Watch out those tricks !

  7. “On what grounds did the driver have to pay the man 300RMB?”

    No grounds except the guy ain’t going to let him go nowhere. So 300 rmb to avoid being dogged for another 30-40 min.

  8. Why didn’t the bus driver get compensated for having to wash dog bits off the bus? At 15 kuai/jing, that sure must have been a portly puppy.

    We’re all really curious about the actual argument, could you let us in on a bit on what you overheard.

  9. Why didn’t the bus driver just get back on the bus and drive off? I am having visions of The Road Warrior were you and your classmates are fending off wild, half naked Aussie men riding on motorbikes and shitty cars in order to escape being robbed of your precious petrol.

  10. George,

    I didn’t hear the actual conversation; I was on the bus the whole time reading my book.

  11. It’s things like this that make me miss China…a lot.

  12. poor doggy. =(

  13. I hope this guy is not purposely encouraging dogs to run into the road so he can claim compensation. The dog was running loose on a busy road, but the ‘owner’ just happened to be close enough to see the bus hit the dog.

  14. How much for a cat?

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