The new leash laws are an amendment to the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law, passed in 1997. The law aims to implement rules that would reduce the spread of contagious disease among animals and mitigate the risk of diseases jumping from animals to humans.
The new amendment does not stipulate the punishments for violating the dog leashing rule. Still, experts and police officers said they think it will pose a strong deterrence towards those people with “uncivilised pet keeping behaviours”.
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Many Chinese cities already have dog ownership regulations and some places even require leashes to be of a certain length. However, this is the first national law to regulate how people walk their pets.
Dog owners will also have to carry their official certification that proves they are registered to raise the dog. Usually the process requires taking the dog for vaccination and an annual fee.
Dog ownership in China is skyrocketing, as well as perceived bad pet owners, occasionally causing tensions within a community.
The problem got so bad that a county in the southwestern province of Yunnan implemented a rule that would have required officials to kill a dog if the owner took it outside for a walk three times, even with a leash. That rule was later “reconsidered” after public backlash.
In Ningbo, in Zhejiang province in eastern China, an unleashed dog being walked by a teenager bit a five-year-old boy and caused multiple injuries in June 2019. The victim’s parents sued the dog’s family last year, according to Ningbo Evening News.
The court ruled that the owner, and his friend, had to share 80 per cent of the medical costs while the family still had to pay 20 per cent. The owner’s friend had been taking care of the dog at the time because the owner was in police custody for allegedly running a casino, which is illegal on mainland China.
Earlier this month in Shanxi, a province in central China, a property owner and the renter, a woman raising seven dogs at home, was told by police to share the medical fees of a two-year-old girl whose leg was bitten by several of the dogs, Shanxi Net TV reported.
Hu Tianle, a police officer in Nanjing, Jiangsu, said that the current culture for unleashed dogs is for officers to fine the owner 50 yuan and criticise the person. For additional violations, the fines would increase and, sometimes, the police would seize the dog.
“After the law is implemented, we will put tighter management on dog raising activities. The punishment for uncivilised dog-keeping behaviours will be heavier and heavier,” Hu was quoted by Jiangsu TV as saying.
The law will also be more strict on vaccinations, particularly for rabies. Dog owners who violate the law by not taking their pets to receive the rabies vaccine regularly will be fined an undisclosed amount of money, said the law.
If they do not vaccinate their dogs within a certain period, the local government will ask veterinary institutions to perform the vaccination or even slaughter the dogs, the law said.
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