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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 09:11, March 20, 2007
Shanghai in hot debate over pets
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The fur is flying over pets.

The anti-pet brigade, angered over noise and mess from domestic cats and dogs, is lobbying the authorities for tougher restrictions on pet ownership, as the number of people keeping them without a license increases.

Pets owners, however, are pushing the government to be more tolerant and lower the license fees and annual management charges.

Pet ownership is very popular among urbanites. It is common among families to bestow their pet as much affection as their child.

"We have seen stronger reaction from pet owners," Tao Rongfang, administration supervisor of the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association, said in regards to the battle between pet and non-pet owners. "Most of them disagree with unreasonably high fees and rules banning pets from appearing in public areas and using public transport."

Owning a pet in China is considered by some quarters a status symbol, as raising one is considerably expensive.

It is estimated that in Shanghai, it can cost as much as 14,000 yuan ($1,800) a year to keep a dog.

Nationwide, cities are trying to balance the needs of pet owners with rights of those who oppose pets.

Official figures show that Shanghai, ranked third in China as having the third largest per capita disposal income among residents, has more than 400,000 dogs, a majority of them unlicensed.

The China Pets Carnival, an international pet pageant, is being held this week in Shanghai, and has attracted a record number of dog and cat owners, organizers said.

Da Hai, who runs a dog breeding center in North China, is seeking potential clients during the carnival.

But the growing demand is likely to get on the nerves of the anti-pet movement, which was represented last week by some heavy-hitting delegates at the National People's Congress (NPC).

An NPC deputy called for dog owners to be taxed to discourage ownership.

Wu Zhiming, head of the city's public security bureau, has also advocated stricter pet restrictions, and heavier fines for those who breach ownership rules.

The reaction from some pet-owners has been angry and emotional, calling such restrictions "absurd".

"There are not many places we can go with our pet because of the lack of dog parks, and even public transport is not available for animals," Thommy Svevar, a field service manager from Finland, said.

Xu Jing, 27, a visitor to the pageant, said: "I am the only child. My parents need the companionship of an animal, after I moved in with my husband."

Source: China Daily

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