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Beijing loosens leash on pet dogs
( 2003-09-06 14:13) (Xinhua)

Beijing's dog lovers could have restrictions on their pets relaxed and registration fees lowered as Beijing Municipal People's Congress (BMPC) approved a new regulation on domestic dogs Friday.

Under the new regulation which came into effect Friday, dog registration fees of 5,000 yuan (604 US dollars) in the first yearand 2,000 yuan (242 US dollars) a year thereafter have been lowered to 1,000 yuan (121 US dollars) and to 500 yuan (60 US dollars) respectively.

The old regulation, which was made eight years ago, required "strict" limiting of dog ownership and control of their numbers, while the new one focused instead on "strict management and combining restrictions with management", said Li Xiaojuan, a member of the BMPC.

The revision of the old regulation started two years ago, but the results were delayed because disputes on keeping dogs always existed and both sides seemed justified.

"Dog-keeping is purely a private matter and it should not be restricted," said Wang Li, a retired government official living inthe city's Xicheng District.

However Xie Minghua, who lives in a building no more than 20 meters from Wang's, worried about that dogs could spread diseases.

"In addition, look, dogs' dirt is all over the streets now," hecomplained.

Statistics of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security showed by the end of last year, there were some 1.4 million dogs in Beijing, only one-tenth of which were registered.

The dog owners in urban Beijing are mostly middle and low-income earners, including laid-off workers and single elderly people, according to the bureau.

"Cheaper dog registration will encourage more residents to keeptheir pets legally instead of ignoring the regulation," said Li Xiaojuan, also deputy director of the legal system bureau of the BMPC.

In addition to the reduction of fees, changes include transferring the management of dogs from the municipal government to neighborhood committees elected by local residents.

Under the new regulation, prospective dog owners should apply for permission from their neighborhood committee instead of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security, which used to be in charge of managing dogs.

"The government now has shown more respect for social customs and individual interests," said Li Xiaojuan.

"But that does not mean the government will stand by. The pointis that government should take proper measures to benefit all its citizens," said Li.

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