Beijing's local government announced Wednesday that it would take in all stray pets in the capital.
Residents who cannot continue to raise their pets or who find stray dogs and cats can call local animal relief stations, which will collect and take care of the animals, according to the Beijing municipal bureau of agriculture.
More than 100,000 dogs have been registered so far this year in Beijing, bringing the total number in the capital to 703,879, according to the Beijing municipal administrative office for dog raising. The city has so far reported two deaths from rabies - one in February and one last month.
"Stray pets can cause a series of social problems, so the municipal administration has a role to play here," said Wang Bin, director of veterinary management office of the Beijing municipal bureau of agriculture.
He added that every district government should organize its own team to take in these animals and also prepare shelters for them.
To support the scheme, the bureau has also published the telephone numbers of 18 animal inspection and quarantine stations around Beijing and the surrounding area in local newspapers.
"We will help the pets that are registered in our district," a staff worker surnamed Li at the Xicheng District station said.
The capital has also established a non-dog stray animal shelter in Haidian District that can house 800 animals.
"In the future, other districts and counties will also set up shelters," Li Quanlu, head of Beijing animal health supervision, said.
However, Wang Bin said: "It is impossible to take in all stray and abandoned animals" because Beijing has only two non-dog stray animal shelters, and neither can accommodate more than 1,000 animals.
"We have asked district governments to establish some temporary shelters in different places. And we will upgrade the facilities as needed," he said.
The public has responded well to the news.
"This measure can protect both abandoned animals and citizens," Wang Min, a staff worker at a local advertisement company, said.
In May, Beijing's Xicheng District launched a pilot experiment under which microchips containing information about both owners and dogs were implanted in the hides of the district's pets. The district has implanted more than 3,000 such chips. The program is to be extended to other districts.
The city also introduced a "one family, one dog" policy last year and launched a nationwide campaign against unregistered dogs.
(China Daily August 25, 2007)