Pet owners dismayed at China's one-dog law

Anger at policy to fight spread of rabies and regulate pet industry

The residents of Guangzhou, one of China's most affluent cities, are already used to sticking to the country's strict one-child rule, but a new regulation is about to force many dog owners to make an impossible decision.

From next month, new regulations will come into action meaning households will be allowed only one dog, meaning anybody with two or more pooches will be allowed to keep only their favourite.

The rule is apparently being brought in as a response to the city's stray dog problem, as a way to prevent the spread of rabies and regulate the pet industry. Pets were considered a bourgeois affectation and banned in the time of Chairman Mao, but have now increased in popularity.

Guangzhou – in the south of the country – is a wealthy city, and as the middle class has grown so has the number of dog owners. The result of many having dogs for the first time is that the pets are often abandoned, and this problem has been increased by owners failing to neuter their pets. Next year the city will host the Asian Games, and authorities are attempting to improve its appearance before the event.

Similar rules are in place in many other Chinese cities, including Beijing. But some people – including a veterinarian at a pet hospital in Guangzhou's Haizhu district – claim that the introduction of the one-dog rule will result in more pets being abandoned on the street. "The hospital cannot take in more pets," the vet, who would identify himself only as Mr Zhang, told the China Daily.

Mao Mao, the founder of a stray dog's shelter, says that since the regulation was announced in March, they now receive 10 calls a day from owners looking to get rid of a pet. "I'm afraid there are going to be many more stray dogs in July when the one-dog regulation becomes effective," she told the Associated Press.

Dog-owners have reacted with anger to the new rule. "These dogs are like family. How can you keep one and get rid of the others?" said Mrs Chen, a middle-aged housewife from Guangzhou. Mrs Chen is the owner of two dogs – a Pekingese mix and a terrier mutt – and would not give her full name because she feared that she might be traced by authorities who would then take one of her dogs.

Rabies is a major problem in China. The country's Ministry of Health says it has the second highest rate in the world after India. About 35,000 dogs have already been killed in a cull in the Shaanxi province, after an increase in the number of rabies cases. The cull, which started last month, was ordered by the city of Hanzhong and has caused much anger among animal-lovers in the country.

Shi Ruihua, a government official, said that "dog-beating" teams had been ordered to kill any dogs they found on the street, even if the dogs had registered owners. He told The Wall Street Journal that the method of execution was chosen because it was the most practical, and that 360,000 dogs in the countryside surrounding the city were to be vaccinated.

Too bourgeois for Mao: The rise of China's designer dogs

They were prohibited under the regime of Chairman Mao for being too bourgeois, but since the ban was lifted, pets have surged in popularity in China – even if you can still find dog meat on some restaurant menus.

Dogs are becoming so pampered that there are even a number of designers specialising in pet fashion. Hu Xi, who set up her studio in 2000 and now has a small factory in Beijing, makes around 10,000 yuan (£895) a month during the winter. "When my dogs go out they always wear shoes and they change clothes every day," Hu told Reuters. But strict rules on dog ownership remain in force. In 2006, Beijing banned dogs in public places. There is also a ban on any dog over 14 inches in the city, and informers who turn in oversized animals get a reward.

Dog meat is often eaten in the winter months because it is believed to warm the blood, while the penis is regarded as an aphrodisiac. However, in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics last year, the 112 official restaurants were told to take dog meat off their menus in order to avoid offending tourists. The Olympics were not all good news for dogs though – there was also a massive cull of pets in the lead-up to the Games.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones