Dog Ownership in China: Fraught with Regulations

Polly, our dog.
Our dog Polly.

I visited China last week and on the plane I picked up a copy of the China Post, a story about dog ownership in the country piqued my curiosity.  There are 50.85 million dogs in China and 33.9 million pet owners. Dog owners are clearly not in the majority, with 1.6 billion citizens, and they are the defensive lately.

There were strict rules put into place in 1994 and today these are being relaxed.  Before that year, it was illegal to even have a family pet, then the law that year set laws that animals had to be immunized against disease. There was a $708 per year fee assessed to all pet owners, called an ‘administration fee.’

Then in 2003, the dog owners got a break and the fee was reduced to 1000 yuan a year, five times less. But they imposed a new rule, limiting the sizes of pet dogs to 35 centimeters.  This went along with rules about scooping poop and forcing owners to use elevators to avoid having their neighbors come in to contact with the canines.

Today a bit complaint in China concerns stray dogs, after more than 3820 people died from rabies in the country between 2013 and 2017. Now laws have been passed in the megacity of Hangzou, where animals can only be walked between 7 am and 7 pm or face a big fine. They also limited the breeds that may be kept as pets, including Chihuahua, Pomeranians and Poodles.

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