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Chinese City Institutes One-Dog Policy

Officials in Qingdao say they are trying to limit the amount of disturbance caused by an ever-growing pooch population

The new rule also bans breeds like the Tibetan Mastiff, pictured here. ( o2ma/Wikimedia Commons)
smithsonian.com

China may have rolled back its strict one-child policy, but the Chinese city of Qingdao is now cracking down on other, more fluffy family members. As Benjamin Haas reports for the Guardian, Qingdao has instituted a limit of one dog per household, sparking outrage among the city’s dog lovers.

Those who own more than one pooch will be required to surrender their furry friends to an adoption agency. The policy also bans a number of “ferocious” dog breeds, among them Dobermans, Pitbulls, and Tibetan Mastiffs, writes Eleanor Ross of Newsweek. Owners are required to register their pets with the authorities, and anyone who violates the rules will be fined the equivalent of $60 USD.

According to Haas, an unnamed official told local media that the controls were implemented because “more and more people [are] raising dogs, which has led to some dogs disturbing residents, and even cases of them injuring people.”

The number of pet dogs in China has burgeoned in recent years, as the country’s economy has rebounded from the Communist era. Dogs were once primarily used for functional purposes—as guards, herders, or meals. Now, pet pups are a ubiquitous status symbol of the upwardly mobile, and cuddly companions to their devoted owners, the New York Times' Michael Wines wrote in 2010 about dog ownership in Beijing.

As the rate of dog ownership has skyrocketed, some Chinese cities have tried to set a cap on pooch populations. Long before Qingdao instituted its one-dog policy, Shanghai enacted a similar rule curtailing the number of dogs per household. The city of Chengdu did the same. One district in Jinan City took a particularly harsh approach, vowing to beat any unauthorized dogs to death.

By contrast, Qingdao’s new policy includes some protections for canines; those who slaughter, abandon, or otherwise mistreat dogs will be subjected to a fine of 2,000 yuan (or $294 USD). But dog owners in Qingdao are nevertheless bemoaning the restrictions.

“If I have one of the banned breeds, should I just kill it?” one person wrote on China’s social media platform Sina Weibo, according to Haas. “According to these rules I have no other choice.”

Those desperate to hang on to their pups might consider relocating to the city of Changzhou, which revoked its one-dog policy after residents unleashed their fury over the rule.

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, Flavorwire, and Women in the World, a property of The New York Times.

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