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November 6, 2010

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License cost divides opinion

LOCALS have been engaged in heated discussion over how much one should be charged for the annual license for owning a dog in Shanghai, after the draft of the city's canine-owning regulation was first revealed on Thursday. It is believed the new draft will lead to a large reduction in the price of a license.

The regulation, which is expected to take effect next year, might lower the threshold for the dog license to 300 yuan (US$45) a year from the current 1,000 to 2,000 yuan.

But about half of the city's lawmakers, or deputies to the Shanghai People's Congress, have proposed that the annual fee should be between 500 to 800 yuan, saying that many more pet dogs will be raised once the cost becomes too cheap.

Liu Fuyuan, a local lawyer, said the license fee was an economic concept, and it should depend on the cost of offering a license and other services.

"Owning a dog is everyone's right, no matter whether you're rich or poor," added Liu, who believed a high license fee was not a solution to the city's large number of dogs.

On the other hand, the high price is widely blamed for discouraging people from applying for the license, as there are about 600,000 unlicensed pet dogs in the city, four times the number of the registered ones.

Registered dogs enjoy services including a microchip insertion, free vaccinations against rabies and other infectious diseases, but the cost of registering can be up to 2,000 yuan.

The cost of one rabies shot is only 0.2 yuan if it is manufactured in China, according to a city lawmaker who asked to be anonymous.

The new draft also bans people from owning some canine breeds, such as the Tibetan Mastiff, English Bulldog and Beauceron Wolfdog, but it fails to say what will happen if people are caught owning those dogs.

According to the regulation, owners must clean up after their dogs on streets. But it does not mention what punishment will be imposed if they fail to do so.

Liu said that he sees nothing enforceable in the above rules.

"If we have these clauses in the regulation, our government will have to bear much higher costs to hire special staff to enforce them," said Liu.


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