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March 25, 2010

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Shanghai issues wake-up call to dog owners - clean up your act

SHANGHAI has issued a warning to dog owners - be responsible or be prosecuted.

More stringent restrictions and bigger fines are included in the provisions of a new local act signed by Mayor Han Zheng.

The imminent World Expo is a key driver of the new regulations that also cover dogs and the issue of crowd safety.

Details of the act were released publicly yesterday and clarify locations where dogs are banned while authorizing three law-enforcement bodies to impose fines on violators.

The provisions are effective immediately and stay in place until the end of this year.

Dogs must only be walked by adults, have to be leashed on the street and larger breeds must wear muzzles.

The act forbids owners, while outdoors, to let dogs near the elderly, the disabled, the pregnant and children.

It also addresses one of the chief complaints by city residents - dog excrement. Owners walking dogs must carry necessary implements to clean up their pets' excrement.

For the first time, owners who failed to clean up excrement will be fined.

However, the fine structure has yet to be finalized.

Under the act, police, animal quarantine officials and urban-management authorities are responsible for fining offenders.

Banned areas for dogs are likely to be widened. These zones already include World Expo sites, People Square's, the Lujiazui area, all sports stadiums and Metro stations.

Other public areas that draw big crowds are on a watch list.

Overseas staff coming to Shanghai to help with their countries' Expo effort are not allowed to bring dogs.

The Expo Village, to accommodate non-local Expo officials and workers, is a dog-free zone.

City legislators believe that there are at least 800,000 pet dogs in Shanghai but only about a quarter of them are registered and licensed.

Many owners are unwilling to license their dogs because of the heavy costs involved.

An owner must pay 1,000 yuan (US$146.50) or 2,000 yuan annually to police, depending on where dogs are domiciled.

Some legislators agree that these prices are too hefty.


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