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April 6, 2012

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Dog-licensing soars in wake of price slash

The number of dogs that are legally registered and vaccinated in the city has risen drastically since last May, after a new law that slashed dog-licensing costs, but much remains to be done, local police and the agricultural authorities said yesterday.

The city's first-ever canine-raising regulation took effect on May 15 last year, and police said yesterday that by end of this March they licensed more than 200,000 pet dogs citywide. The process includes implanting a microchip under the dog's skin and registering it in a database.

The number of dogs newly licensed during the 10-month period since the law's enactment was more than 2 1/2 times the number for all of 2010. The cost of licensing a dog downtown fell from 2,000 yuan (US$316) to 500 yuan, with cheaper prices in suburban areas.

The local agricultural authorities also said yesterday that by this March more than 260,000 pet dogs had been vaccinated for rabies, more than three times the number before the law.

Pet owners are also charged 60 yuan for the dog's information chip and another 60 yuan for each vaccination.

Police are also under pressure to expand shelter capacity and standards. The law gave police the right to capture strays and unlicensed dogs and take them to shelters.

In response to mounting concerns, police said they decided to improve living conditions inside the shelters. Actions were also under way to get more shelters built.

Police said more than 10,000 dogs - homeless or unlicensed - had been sent to government-run shelters in the past 10 months. Animal-welfare activists have voiced worries of overcapacity and poor circumstance in such shelters.

The sheltered dogs are open for adoption or legal claims by original owners.

Dogs not claimed or adopted within 30 days of entering the shelters will be sent for "legal disposal," according to the law. Terminating the dogs' lives is the common form of such disposals, police insiders acknowledged.

Government authorities estimated there are about 600,000 homeless and unlicensed dogs in the city, which still largely outnumber the legally registered and supervised group.

"It's impossible for the law to tackle all the problems overnight," said Ding Wei, a legislator who steered the law. "The law aims to improve the supervision and protection of the rights of both dog raisers and other groups who have the right not to be disturbed."


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