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December 23, 2010

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City boost for dog lovers as regulations relaxed

A REVISED draft of Shanghai's rules on pets is to allow people who rent apartments to apply for a dog license for the first time.

And a proposal that households each should only have one dog has been modified.

Dog owners must have a license for their pets or face fines of up to 1,000 yuan (US$150) or even having their pets seized.

But currently only people who own their homes can apply for the license.

The new draft says residents who live in rented homes are also eligible for it.

Chris Yang, 25, who lives in Shanghai, agreed with the revised draft, saying that it was every person's right to raise a dog, whether one owned or rented an apartment.

Most foreigners in Shanghai have not purchased apartments here, but they should have the right to raise a pet dog, Yang said.

Wang Guanchang, a local lawmaker, said the one-dog-per-household provision had been altered to allow people living in some suburban areas to raise more than one dog.

"The earlier clause lacked practicability," Wang said.

A strict one-dog policy will apply only to those living in downtown areas and part of the city's suburbs, including Songjiang, Jiading, new towns like Lingang, industrial parks and economic development parks, Wang said.

People can send extra dogs to friends or the city's dog shelters, according to the draft due to take effect next year.

The new version of the regulations also extends a ban on dogs to more public places, including office buildings, entertainment venues, restaurants, shopping centers and hotels.

Zhou Min, a Jiangxi Province native, welcomed the news. "I'm afraid of dogs, and I will feel uncomfortable whenever I come across one at a public place," Zhou said.

According to the draft, anyone who abandons a dog will be fined 500 yuan to 2,000 yuan and have their license revoked. They will be unable to apply for another license for five years.

Other punishment clauses have been added.

If a dog has not been vaccinated against rabies by the time it is three months old, the owner can face a fine of up to 1,000 yuan.

Clean up

Dog owners will also be warned or fined for failing to deal with dogs' bodies after they die or if they fail to clean up after them.

Besides the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, urban management authorities and health, finance and industrial and commercial departments will also take a role in the management of the city's dog population in the future.

The draft is aimed at better management of the city's large number of pet dogs and reducing the cases of unlicensed dogs attacking people.

Last year, police dealt with nearly 140,000 reports of people being bitten by unlicensed dogs, compared with 100,000 in 2006.

There are about 140,000 licensed dogs in town, but officials estate the city has at least 600,000 unlicensed ones.


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