at least 318 people in China in September, 2006.
The Year of the Dog has been an unusual year for man's best friend,
with local governments, pet lovers and loathers searching for solutions to
the problem of bites.
Rabies killed at least 318
people in China in September and was responsible for more deaths than
either tuberculosis or AIDS
over the past five months.
It has become the leading infectious disease and is a growing problem,
the Ministry of Health announced last month.
The ministry recorded 2,254 cases of rabies nationwide in the first
nine months of this year, up 30 per cent over the same period last year.
Although regulations are in place in many areas, "many dog owners
neither register their dogs nor have them inoculated, plus there is an increasing
numbers of stray dogs,
resulting in a dangerous environment," said Yu Hongyuan, vice-director of
the Beijing Municipality Public Security Bureau.
"It's high time we launched an extensive campaign to tighten the
management of these animals," added Yu.
Beijing had 550,000 registered dogs this year, but the Beijing
Association for Small Animal Protection says the city may also be home to
up to 450,000 unregistered dogs.
"The reason people don't register their dogs is to avoid paying the 500
yuan (US$62.50) registration fee," Zhang Zhang, the official in charge of
the dog chapter for the association, told China Daily.
Another reason people don't register their dogs is because the animals
are bigger than the legal limit.
"Big dogs, those with a shoulder height of more than 35 centimetres,
are banned in central Beijing," said Zhang. "If you want to own a
Labrador or a Husky two popular breeds in China
and both usually taller than 35 centimetres you're taking the risk that
your pet will be detained."
Even the owner's age seems to be a factor.
"Dogs kept by senior citizens in urban areas make up most of those
escaping registration and inoculation," Zhang said. "The younger
generation is usually willing to spend money on their dogs, posing much
"Another thing needed is to develop a whole industry, not only dog
hospitals and dog food, but also leashes and toilet devices," he said.
Major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Harbin have all
drawn up new measures, to provide a peaceful environment for dog owners
and non-owners alike.
One of the latest involves implanting electronic chips in Beijing and
Harbin a practice already in use in other countries.
Each family in Beijing is allowed only one dog. Starting this month
police will be making house calls to establish records of registered dogs
and confiscate unregistered animals.