One-dog policy has China pet owners hot under collar

Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:35am EDT
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By James Pomfret

GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters Life!) - For decades, most Chinese residents of the southern city of Guangzhou have resigned themselves to the country's strict one-child policy. Now, a similar restriction on dogs has got them howling mad.

Raising dogs was banned under the rule of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong as a bourgeois pastime, but with China's growing affluence and pursuit of Western trends, greater numbers of middle-class families have become avid pet owners in a booming social trend.

While pampered pedigree dogs are a regular sight on the streets of major cities like Guangzhou and Beijing, the boom has spiked the number of strays as pets get abandoned. The number of public spaces getting soiled has also increased, as have the complaints from neighbors not partial to canines in crowded districts and tenement blocks.

On July 1, city authorities implemented the "one-dog policy" seen as a crackdown on the estimated 100,000 unregistered dogs in Guangzhou ahead of the Asian Games in the city next year.

But so far, many outraged pet owners in the sprawling metropolis have chosen to ignore, or dodge, the new laws.

"I'll definitely not give up on my dogs because they're a part of my life," said an office worker surnamed Chen with six dogs in a leafy neighborhood in downtown Guangzhou.

Another owner with two small dogs criticized the policy as discriminatory and poorly thought out.

"I'm very angry, what's the difference between one dog or two dogs. Will it disturb people more?," said the woman who declined to be named given the sensitivities involved.   Continued...