Hubei has revised laws surrounding pet ownership so that any person who abandons their cat or dog in the province may face fines of RMB1,000-5,000, according to China Daily.
The revisions also mean that local governments are responsible for finding care for the abandoned animals and disposing of pets that die of illness.
According to the regulations, large and dangerous dogs are now prohibited in Hubei, and those who raise them could be fined RMB10,000 and have their dog confiscated.
Du Fan, director of the Small Animal Protection Association in Wuhan, told China Daily that the policy may be difficult to enforce. However, he added that: "In the course of our work, we have often encountered pet owners intentionally abandoning animals, but there were no solutions due to the lack of related laws or regulations."
The Small Animal Protection Association in the provincial capital rescued over 700 lost, abandoned and injured dogs and cats in 2021.
Despite some recent improvements, China’s laws surrounding animal welfare fall short of other countries.
The World of Chinese, a China-based magazine, reported that “As far back as 2009, legal experts drafted anti-animal cruelty legislation calling for animal welfare policies.”
The draft legislation, and others that followed, were not approved by the National People’s Congress (China’s lawmaking body).
In recent years, China has made some changes to laws surrounding animal protection; following the country’s initial COVID-19 outbreak, the consumption of wild animals was temporarily banned (a ban that has yet to be lifted).
In April 2020, Shenzhen and Zhuhai both banned the consumption of cats and dogs.
In 2009, Guangzhou began to issue fines of RMB1,000-2,000 to pet owners who abandon or mistreat their pets.
Du also suggested that digital IDs be implemented in pets to better track the animals.
In 2020, Shenzhen announced that all dogs in the city must be implanted with a chip which has the owner’s identity and contact information and a 15-digit code that matches the dog’s name and breed.
Unlike countries like the UK, Japan and Australia, microchips are not a mandatory condition for dog ownership in China. However, dogs do need to be registered to their owners.
China’s pet industry is experiencing a boom. According to Statista: "In 2020, around 190 million pets were held in Chinese households, ranging from mammals to reptiles. Forecasts showed that the pet population in China would exceed 200 million in 2021. Cats and dogs remained the most popular pets among Chinese pet lovers."
[Cover image via That's/Lars Hamer]