Imagine authorities knocking on your door — well, we’d hope they’d knock — and informing you that owning more than one dog is against the law, and to choose which one you’d like to keep.
In another two weeks, that will be the situation in Guangzhou, as it already is in Beijing.
Beginning July 1, each household can raise only one dog. The regulation won’t be grandfathered in, so families with two or more dogs will apparently have to decide which one gets to stay, according to an Associated Press report.
“It’s a cruel regulation. These dogs are like family. How can you keep one and get rid of the others?” one owner of two dogs — a terrier mix and a Pekingnese — told the Associated Press. She declined to give her full name because she feared the police would track her down and seize the dogs.
The regulation appears to be part of an effort to control stray dogs in Guangzhou, a city of 12 million that was once known as Canton. It’s one of the richest cities in China.
Many of those getting pets are first-time pet owners, don’t bother to spay or neuter their animals and end up abandoning them, leading to a large population of strays in Guangzhou, which is preparing to host the Asian Games next year.
People were quick to react to the regulation when it was announced in March, said Mao Mao, who six years ago founded a shelter for stray dogs called Family of the Pet. She said that before March, she would receive only a few calls a month from dog owners who wanted to give up pets. “Since March, every day we get about 10 calls a day,” said the woman, who takes in only strays and advises pet owners how to find new homes for their animals.
“I’m afraid there are going to be many more stray dogs in July when the one-dog regulation becomes effective,” she said.
Many other Chinese cities, including Beijing, have long had one-dog policies. Officials commonly launch mass roundups of dogs when the canine population is deemed too big or infected with rabies and other diseases. In 2006, Beijing authorities caught 29,000 unregistered dogs in one month — a campaign that sparked public anger and protest.
In the city of Hanzhong, in China’s central Shaanxi province, all dogs found outside homes in areas hit by a rabies outbreak are not being “culled” by “dog-beating teams” who canvass the area and beat dogs to death on the spot — even those registered by their owners, according to a report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
The cull, which began May 23, is one of the largest in recent years, and has led to some outrage, most of it expressed in anonymous online discussions.
Meanwhile, back in Guangzhou, dog owners aren’t sure if the one-dog policy will be strictly enforced. Often Chinese authorities announce a tough new law, launch a crackdown, then ignore the measure.
(Photos: Scenes from Hanzhong, where dog culling is underway, and leading to demonstrations; courtesy of animalsasia.org)