CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (11/14/2019 Thu.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (11/14/2019 Thu.)

People's Daily app

02:05, November 14, 2019

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From the People's Daily App.

This is Story in the Story.

Questions are being raised over problematic animals being kept in large cities across China.

In recent years, the number of dogs in Beijing has risen rapidly, in line with the situation nationwide.

According to the 2018 Chinese Pet Industry White Paper, there were 50.85 million dogs in China last year and the number of owners reached 33.9 million. However, the burgeoning canine population has raised questions over how owners in large cities can get along with people who don't have dogs.

Dog lovers have criticized strict local restrictions on the size of animals they can own and the hours during which they can be walked. Others have blamed savage dogs which, in some cases, have been responsible for fatal attacks.

Since 1994, the regulations governing dog ownership in Beijing have been revised twice. When they were first introduced, owners had to register their dogs and have them immunized regularly against disease. The regulations also stated that they must pay an annual 5,000 yuan ($708) administrative fee.

In 2003, the fee was lowered to 1,000 yuan, while owners in the capital's downtown districts could only keep dogs with a maximum height of 35 centimeters.

Since 2013, there have been persistent calls for the regulations to be loosened.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at the balance that needs to be struck between dog owners and other members of the public.

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(Photo: China Daily)

Shen Ruihong, secretary-general of the China Small Animal Protection Association, said: "Before 2003, the administrative fee of 5,000 yuan was too high. There are also many aspects of the current dog management rules that need to be improved."

The limit on the size of dog that can be kept should also be amended, he said.

"You usually can't tell the size mongrels will grow to in adulthood, and that's the reason the provision was brought in," he said.

"But with the passage of time, the ban no longer meets society's needs," Shen said, adding that some good natured larger dogs are suitable for owners living in communities.

The number of stray dogs in China has surged in tandem with urbanization. The strays are also a major cause of rabies.

According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,820 people died from rabies in China from 2013 to 2017. Last year, the disease caused 410 deaths in the country, second only to India.

Yao Yue, the Better Life for Dogs campaign manager at the World Animal Protection Association, said, "The high death toll from rabies is also closely linked to the fact that a large number of stray dogs have been mistreated, and the rabies vaccination rate is quite low."

Yao said any problems caused by dogs are the responsibility of the owners and management departments. As long as there is an effective mechanism with serious punishment for breaches, owners "will learn their lessons and abide by the regulations."

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Dogs are taken away by city management officers in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. (Photo: China Daily)

In November last year, tough restrictions for dogs were introduced in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. The animals could only be walked from 7am to 7pm, with a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 yuan for errant owners. In addition, only 34 breeds can be kept as pets in the urban area, including Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and poodles.

Meantime, the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau this summer banned people from walking dogs in the capital's parks and gardens, citing such behavior as "uncivilized." Those who breach the regulation are put on a blacklist.

Being placed on the list could soon affect residents' points-based application system for hukou, or household registration, according to a draft regulation considered by the Beijing Municipal People's Congress last month.

Liu Tao, deputy director of the bureau's park management office, said visitors, including those walking dogs, often unconsciously breach the regulations and sometimes seriously affect the running of parks.

"We're trying to prevent such behavior, including refusing entry if dog owners fail to clean up after their animals, to ensure that they don't annoy other visitors," he said.

Wang Jingbo, professor of law at the China University of Political Science and Law, called for more specific regulations to be introduced for dog ownership, especially local laws.

Civil liability after any illegal behavior by dog owners should be clarified, Wang said, stressing that the law should be enforced more rigorously.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon and Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily.)


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