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September 17, 2009

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Doggone! City on stray patrol

GOVERNMENT officials in the city's southern Jinshan District have begun a massive search and seizure of stray and unlicensed dogs.

The initiative comes after a stray dog bit 19 people on Monday.

Up to 800,000 dogs are kept as pets in Shanghai, with a growth rate of 30 percent each year. However, only a quarter have been licensed.

More than 10,000 Shanghai residents are bitten by dogs each year, according to authorities.

All victims of Monday's attacks were clear of rabies and had left Jinshan Hospital after vaccinations, police said.

The stray dog attacked the first victim about 8am in a residential community.

It was finally cornered 2 1/2 hours later in a store and clubbed to death by police.

"I just had bad luck," said Zhao Meihua, 66, who suffered a deep cut in her left ankle inflicted by the dog.

Police officers said it was almost impossible to track the owners of many animals in the street.

Lawmakers of the Shanghai People's Congress have started research and will work with the Public Security Bureau to study issues such as where dogs can be walked and who is responsible for any mess they leave behind.

"A comprehensive new dog ownership law is in sight," said a lawmaker.

The city's regulations covering pets were issued in 1993, and were amended in 1997 and 2002.

A task force of about 100 police officers is in charge of the management of the city's dogs. They issued 147,000 dog licenses last year, which means nearly 75 percent of owners have unregistered pets.

Many owners believe the licenses are too expensive.

Wang Chen, an owner, said the cost of 2,000 yuan (US$292) a year within the Inner Ring Road, which only entitled a dog to receive a rabies vaccination, was "unreasonable."

Wang has not registered her five-month-old dog.


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