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Pet Services Inflate Prices, Peddle Inferior Goods

Beijingers are estimated to spend more than 500 million yuan (US$61.5 million) on their pets, with a major part set for medical purposes, according to Beijing-based Workers' Daily.


However, the new pet service industry is increasingly criticized as a sector that collects unreasonably large profits.


"The profit in this industry is really too high," said a staff member working in a local association of small animal protection surnamed Zhang.


"The medicines are usually marked with quiet high prices in pet hospitals, claiming that they are imported," said Zhang.


"But real costs are rather low," he said. "Some medicines are near expiration and lack directions in Chinese, which is actually illegal."


A pet hospital may charge more than 1,000 yuan (US$120) for a weeklong treatment of a dog cough. But a bottle of traditional Chinese medicine to that effect only costs about 5 yuan.


Some pet hospitals have even been reported to sell bogus medicine.


According to an official with the Beijing Agricultural Bureau, over 99 percent of the city's pet hospitals belong to individuals who have the right to fix medicine or treatment prices.


Thus the lack of efficient government oversight is blamed for the industry's inflated prices.


"Rule of law in the field is indispensable and will play an important role in protecting the interests of customers, and especially the health of pets," said a staff member at the Beijing Association of Small Animal Protection.


(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2005)

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