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July 30, 2011

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Law spurs registration of dogs

IN the two months since Shanghai enacted a new law on dog ownership, the number of people voluntarily licensing their dogs has doubled the total for all of last year, police said yesterday.

The law substantially reduced the expense and simplified the application process for a license.

In the past two months, about 95,000 dogs have been brought to police-arranged locales to get vaccinated and licensed. The improvement suggests the new law is welcomed by dog owners and has contributed to better management and public safety concerning pet dogs in Shanghai, police said.

The local regulation cut the license fee from 2,000 yuan (US$310) to 500 yuan for dogs raised inside the Inner Ring Road and from 1,000 yuan to 300 yuan for those on the outside. It also simplified the procedures so that applicants no longer have to make multiple visits to the police office. At some authorized spots, owners can have their dogs vaccinated and licensed at the same time.

"Lower cost and better application convenience have attracted many dog owners who used to be reluctant to license their dogs because of the expense and time demanded," said Sun Weihua, a veteran police officer who has supervised dog registration in Shanghai for years.

About 300 to 800 dogs are now being licensed every day citywide, Sun said. About 200,000 dogs are estimated to be kept as pets in downtown Shanghai.

Sun denied a rumor that police are planning mass detentions of unlicensed dogs by the end of August after a grace period following the law's enactment. The message has been spreading quickly online and stirred up worries among communities keen on animal welfare.

Instead of a detention campaign, police will complete a citywide census on the population of home-raised dogs and whether they are licensed, Sun said.

He stressed that unlicensed dogs would not be taken away from their owners immediately.

"Police used to rely on tough methods including confiscating the dogs in an effort to get people to license the pets," he said. "But it failed to achieve a good effect. We would persuade those who fail to license their dogs. We would only consider punishment if persuasions do not work twice," Sun said.

The penalty includes a fine and loss of the dog. Sun added that dog owners would be granted three to five days to apply for a license and take back their dogs.

Police have not yet worked out a solution to dogs that are on the blacklist of breeds banned in Shanghai, such as German shepherds, mastiffs and English bulldogs. The law also requires all dogs to be leashed while the bigger ones must also wear masks when being walked in public.


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