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August 6, 2009

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Rules to target canine concerns

SHANGHAI'S dog owners will find themselves on a tighter leash after the city's lawmakers finish drafting new rules governing pet ownership.

Even small dogs may be forbidden on public transport and in shopping malls and supermarkets. Other provisions will address where dogs can be walked and who's responsible for any messes they leave behind - and bite wounds they inflict on strangers they encounter.

Shanghai People's Congress has started research on the issue and will work with the Public Security Bureau to develop comprehensive new dog ownership rules, lawmakers said yesterday.

Shanghai's current regulations governing man's best friend were issued in 1993, and though amended in 1997 and 2002, they aren't sufficiently detailed to cope with the city's modern-day canine concerns, the security bureau said.

"If dog management is not strengthened, these pets may still bring pleasure to their owners but could pose trouble or even danger to the larger population," said Deng Zixin, a member of Shanghai People's Congress.

As economic progress has allowed more people to own pets, the sight of dogs romping in parks and greenbelts has become increasingly common, along with barking, biting and excrement. The current regulation doesn't specify what neighborhood committees can do to deal with those concerns, Deng said, adding that more than 10,000 Shanghai residents are bitten by dogs each year.

The new regulations might also order owners of aggressive breeds to keep their dogs out of the downtown.

Shanghai police issued 164,000 dog licenses last year, but authorities estimate there are even more people who haven't complied with registration rules.

"Some dog owners said they'll consider applying for a license only if they get caught by police," said Wang Juan, who works for the Nanchang Community Committee in Luwan District.

A license costs 2,000 yuan (US$292) a year within the Inner Ring Road, 1,000 yuan from there to the Outer Ring Road and 100 yuan elsewhere. Without a license, a dog can't receive a rabies vaccination under the current regulation.


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