2020-07-27 07:55:28

The southern Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen is making microchips for pet pooches compulsory in a bid to promote “civilized dog-raising” in the city, local media reported Monday.

From October, pet dogs must be microchipped with unique 15-digit codes linked to their owners’ name and contact details, as well as information about the canine, according to the report, which cited the city management bureau. Pets without microchips will be considered “unlicensed,” and their owners may face penalties — though details on potential punishments have not been released.

You Ting, a veterinarian at Ruipeng Pet Hospital in Shenzhen, said his clinic has already started microchipping dogs for free, and described the policy as a socially acceptable way to “hold dog owners accountable.”

“Through the continuous implementation and promotion of the policy, more and more (dog) owners will realize the necessity of microchipping,” he told Sixth Tone.

Local authorities had proposed the policy in May, aimed at discouraging residents from abandoning their pets and better managing dogs’ general well-being. Data shows that there are currently 220,000 dogs in Shenzhen, 90% of which have been registered with the authorities.

Once implanted, the microchips will be able to locate lost dogs and their owners for around 15 years. Currently, some 100 pet hospitals in Shenzhen have partnered with the city government to provide free microchipping services, according to media reports.

Shenzhen resident Amelia Han said she and her dog-loving friends are “very supportive” of the policy, adding that her golden retriever has already been microchipped.

“In addition to the procedure being safe and making it easier to find a lost animal, microchipping your pet is equivalent to giving them an identity,” she told Sixth Tone.

As of 2019, there were over 55 million pet dogs in China, up 8.2% from the previous year, according to an industry report. However, the boom in pet ownership has also led to millions of abandoned animals wandering the streets, corresponding with an uptick in dog-related conflicts and disputes.

Lately, local governments nationwide have begun promoting policies for making dog owners more responsible. In 2017, Jinan, capital of the eastern Shandong province, launched a “credit score” system that authorities said had “greatly encouraged dog owners to walk their dogs on a leash.”

Additional reporting: Guo Yiru; editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A dog gets a microchip implanted in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Aug. 4, 2019. People Visual)