Limit on numbers of man's best friend in Shanghai

Mon May 16, 2011 12:37am EDT
 
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SHANGHAI (Reuters Life!) - For decades, most Chinese residents of Shanghai have resigned themselves to the country's strict one-child policy. But now, a similar restriction on dogs has 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.

From May 15, city authorities began implementing a "one-dog policy" to crack down on an estimated 600,000 unregistered dogs in the financial hub, sparking opposition from pet owners.

"I have two dogs. The new policy says each family can only have one dog, but we have been living together for five years," said 56-year-old Guo Huiying.

"They are family to me, I cannot just give one of them up. I am thinking about keeping one of them at my relative's house."

While pampered pedigree dogs are a regular sight on the streets of major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the number of strays has spiked as pets are abandoned.

Soiling of public spaces has also increased, as have complaints from neighbors not partial to canines in crowded districts and tenement blocks.

The new rule means owners whose dogs are not registered with the authorities will have to give them away. Those who already have more than one licensed dog will be able to keep them, but for new applications, only those from households without puppies will be accepted.

Many dog owners, who, depending on where they live, will have to pay a 300 to 500 yuan (around $46 to $77) yearly fee to keep their pets under the new law, criticized the policy as discriminatory and poorly thought out.   Continued...

 
<p>A dog rides in a bicycle basket riden by its owner along a street in central Beijing September 22, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray</p>