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2020-11-16 10:00:16

A county in southwestern China’s Yunnan province is banning pet owners from walking their dogs in public and imposing heavy punishments on those caught violating the rules in order to prevent canine conflicts.

Weixin County’s new pet policy stipulates that dogs must be kept in their owners’ homes at all times and not taken outdoors, local media reported Sunday. People caught violating the rule three times will have their dogs confiscated and killed by the local public security bureau.

A county official surnamed Wu told Sixth Tone that the new rule was introduced due to an uptick in pet-related conflicts and disputes among residents. She said locals have been bitten by dogs unaccompanied by their owners, and that there was a recent scuffle between a sanitation worker and a pet owner after the latter’s pooch pooped in a public space.

In recent years, conflicts and disputes involving pet dogs have repeatedly made headlines in China. In 2018, a woman in the eastern city of Hangzhou was severely injured by a dog owner after she tried to shoo the animal away from her son. And in August, an 88-year-old woman in the southern Guangdong province died after tripping over a leash, prompting the dog’s owner to flee the scene.

There have also been several incidents in which people have reportedly killed pet dogs following disputes. However, in the absence of a specific law pertaining to household pets, many of these cases do not result in judicial action.

In the wake of such incidents, many cities across China have introduced guidelines aimed at minimizing conflicts. The southern city of Shenzhen made microchips compulsory to encourage “civilized dog-raising,” while the coastal city of Qingdao instituted a one-dog policy for each household amid rising dog-related injuries in the city.

Du Fan, president of the Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association, told Sixth Tone that Weixin County’s new policy is “extremely inhumane.”

“Trying to deal with the problem isn’t wrong, but I think this kind of approach violates related legal provisions,” Du said, adding that authorities should not be allowed to prevent dog owners from taking their pets outside.

Sixth Tone’s phone calls to the public security bureau in Weixin County went unanswered Monday, though an unnamed local official told domestic media that they’re looking into the new rule after receiving negative feedback.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A man walks a dog in Wuhan, Hubei province, April 5, 2020. People Visual)