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Guangzhou starts one-dog policy
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A new regulation on dog keeping, which has triggered a controversy by restricting each household to raise only one dog, will take effect in this capital of south China's Guangdong Province on Wednesday.

Luo Zhenhui, deputy director of the municipal public security bureau,said Tuesday that the bureau will see to the enforcement of the regulation.

According to the regulation, a dog owner could be fined 2,000 yuan for having more than one dog.

"We encourage residents to send their dogs to the bureau if they want to dispose of them. Police will also seize dogs illegally kept based on public reports," said a police officer who declined to give his name.

The city is gearing up for the Asian Games next year. It is widely believed that the one-dog policy, which has caused public discontent since the draft was announced in March, is meant to reduce the city's dog population.

"If each family can only keep one dog, I'm sure that stray dogs will increase. How would the authorities deal with those stray dogs? Why don't you let me keep them and take care of them?" said a woman surnamed Ye, who has raised two dogs for eight years.

Many non-dog keepers also consider the one-dog rule is a little harsh.

"No matter how many dogs one keeps, the most important thing is that the owner has the awareness to raise the dogs in a proper way and avoid bringing trouble to others," said a resident in Huangpu District.

According to the regulation, the city's dog registration fee will fall sharply from 10,000 yuan to 500 yuan.

The police chief Luo said that the change is aimed to encourage legal keeping of dogs.

The bureau estimated that the number of unregistered dog in Guangzhou has reached 100,000, which was in contrast to only 800 registered.

"The high fee for dog registration required by the current regulation in effect since 1997 has not been effective in restricting the dog population in the city," said Chen Xiaoqing, director of the commission for legislative affairs of the municipal legislature.

Illegal dog keeping has been blamed for causing dog diseases such as rabies, which broke out in several Chinese cities this year.

"The new dog registration fee is more reasonable and acceptable, so that there won't be so many people who evade dog registration," said a dog owner surnamed Lian.

However, he was angry that the new regulation limits each household to just one dog.

The regulation also prohibits the keeping and breeding of 36 types of dogs which are classed as aggressive or over 71 cm in height in certain urban areas. And in Beijing there is a similar law limiting the number of dogs per household based on their size.

"Though my dog is defined as aggressive, I will be responsible for him. I am determined to move away from the city center for my dog," said a dog owner Chen, who has a Borzoi.

Dog ownership in Chinese cities is still growing fast. Beijing police finished its annual check on dog registration on Tuesday. It said the number of registered dogs in the city reached 900,000, about 100,000 more than the same period of last year.

Growing dog population has caused disease control problems. Since March, rabies has broken out in five counties of northwest China's Hanzhong City. As of June 12, about 8,600 people had been bitten or scratched by dogs and 12 had died of rabies.

(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2009)

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