You’ve heard of the One Child Policy in China. Now get ready for the One Dog Policy.
Growing irritation with dog excrement on the streets, fears about rabies and public anger at people abandoning unwanted puppies when they grow up, means Shanghai, China’s largest city, is embarking on a massive crackdown to control the number of dogs.
Shanghai has a canine population of 800,000 and a human population of 23 million, but only around 140,000 of the dogs are registered and city officials say that since 2006, Shanghai has recorded at least 100,000 dog attacks each year.
From now on however, people will only be allowed to have one pooch or pay for the privilege. Any additional unregistered dogs will be turned over to government shelters and owners who don’t comply face a potential 3,000 yuan.
To encourage people to license their pooches, the annual management fee for each dog was reduced to 500 yuan in downtown areas and 100 yuan for the suburbs, according to the Shanghai Finance Bureau. At the moment it costs 2,000 yuan to register a dog.
Other new rules include requirements that dogs should be kept on a leash in public, that big dogs need to be muzzled and that any dog excrement needs to be picked up by the owners—or face a 200 yuan fine.
For many years, dog ownership in cities was seen as an upper class luxury and banned by Chairman Mao Zedong. But as China opens up, many households now have pets and dog numbers have been soaring in the past few years.
Dogs already have to undergo mandatory vaccinations, but from now on each dog must also be implanted with a chip containing the owners’ information. “We only have some 30 clients today who bring their dogs to be vaccinated. Most dog owners still do not know they should bring their dogs to us,” a worker surnamed Han at the Angel Pets Clinic in Yangpu district said.
People who already own more than one dog and registered them before the new law came into effect are allowed to keep their dogs. But for those who have more than one unregistered dog, only one registration will be accepted.
This has of course, sparked opposition from pet lovers.
One dog owner said, “I have three unregistered dogs. They have been with me for five years. They are family to me. I can’t just give one of them up.”
“For many dog owners who have more than one dog, it is too hard to make the decision to keep one but abandon another,” said Lai Xiaoyu, the head of the China Small Animal Protection Association, Shanghai branch.