Shanghai passes law to introduce one-dog policy

08:52, February 24, 2011      

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NEW regulations for Shanghai's dog owners will come into effect on May 15 after the city passed its dog law yesterday.

Proposals, including a one-dog policy and a ban on attack dogs, aroused long and heated debate and certain clauses have been revised based on the opinions of lawmakers and local residents.

Under the new rules, people living in downtown areas and new urban centers, such as Lingang and Jiading new towns, are permitted just one dog per household, but anyone currently owning two or more licensed dogs will be allowed to keep them.

Any unlicensed pets will have to be given away to friends or relatives or to adoption agencies.

Applications for dog licenses have been suspended until May 15 and the licensing system will be more strictly enforced under the new rules.

All dogs will require a license and will have to be vaccinated against rabies regularly and go through annual checks. Owners will face fines from 200 yuan (US$22) and 1,000 yuan or have the dog taken away for any breaches of regulations.

The new rules don't specify the cost of a license and certain management expenses but Sun Weihua, a police officer, said that the total would be no more than 1,000 yuan compared to the current 2,000 yuan threshold. The fees will be halved if dogs are neutered or spayed.

There will be a ban on the keeping and raising of large attack dogs such as Tibetan mastiffs, Beauceron wolfdogs and English bulldogs.

Dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets can be fined up to 200 yuan by urban management workers under the new rules and if a dog attacks people twice or injures two or more people in one attack, its license will be revoked and the dog taken away by police.

Sun said license applications would resume once the new rules come into effect and officers will pay home visits to help residents with the process.

"A peak of license application will appear then, and of course a lot of dogs will be adopted by police," Sun said.

An online platform for information checking and sharing is being prepared and people will be able to check a website if they want to adopt a dog that has been removed from its previous home.

Though Sun said police will not make special checks to see whether people own more dogs than are allowed, some officers would be equipped with readers to tell whether a dog is licensed or not. All licensed dogs have an implanted chip.

Officials said the new rules were aimed at the better management of dogs and reducing cases of unlicensed animals attacking people.

The city has about 140,000 licensed dogs, while there are estimated to be around 600,00 unlicensed ones.

Last year, police dealt with nearly 140,000 reports of people being bitten by unlicensed dogs, compared to 100,000 such reports in 2006.

Li Jianying, director of the Shanghai Animal Husbandry Office which is in charge of dog vaccination, said they would set up more branches, especially in downtown areas, to offer the service. Some pet clinics would also be allowed to offer vaccinations.

Jean Ji, a local resident, said she believed the lower cost of licensing dogs would encourage more people to raise pets. "But we already have too many pets," she said. "I just hope the law can better restrain dog owners' behavior."

Vivien Gong, who has an unlicensed dog, was happy about the legislation, and said she would apply for a license as soon as the new regulations comes into effect.

By Jia Feishang, Shanghai Daily
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