Deputies and political advisers call for stricter rules for pet owners

Shanghai has more than 1 million registered pet dogs, a number that is expected to reach 2 million by 2020.

Moral lessons won’t be as effective as heavier punishments for pet owners who fail to properly raise their pets for the safety of other people, according to 14 legislators and nine political advisers who filed proposals to revise the city’s current pet regulations.

Political advisers led by Liu Huili, deputy director of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, pointed out that Shanghai is one of the top-five pet markets in China's mainland, with more than 1 million registered pet dogs, a number that is expected to reach 2 million by 2020.

But the pets have also caused annoyance and even injuries to residents. In a serious incident last year, an old man died after he had a fight with a dog owner when a dispute occurred in their community.

A proposal penned by Wu Qianjin, a legislator from the Pudong New Area and director of the research office of international culture at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, also addresses the issue.

The current regulation, which has been in force since February 2011, requires dog owners to use pet leashes, put muzzles on larger dogs, and clear the excrement of pets from public places. Those who violate the rules face fines, but that's not making communities cleaner or safer, it says.

Over 2,000 people in China are diagnosed with rabies annually, the second largest number in the world after India.

To address the problem, deputies said punishments should be more severe to deter violators of the regulations.

According to the current regulations, pet owners who take no action when their pets threaten personal safety face 200 yuan (US$30) to 500 yuan in fines, and those who use their pets to hurt others face up to 10 days of detention, a 500 yuan fine and criminal charges.

As the current regulations only encourage pet owners to buy third-party insurances for their pets, the deputies proposed making it compulsory so that compensation can be ensured for people who are injured. The deputies also call for free vaccination for all pet dogs.

Li Xiangnong, a deputy and lawyer from Putuo District, suggested that property management firms of residential complexes should be given power in enforcing the dog rules.

According to the current regulation, property management firms can only “dissuade” residents when the latter ride elevators or walk the stairs in a building with pets and fail to give way to others, while most of the responsibilities in law enforcement fall on the police and urban management authorities.

The members of the CPPCC Shanghai Committee also suggested amendments to the current regulations, such as adding pet management into the social credit evaluation system and putting violators on the discredit list.

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