Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, will improve management of dog ownership by building a full digital platform to monitor pets, implanting them with microchips and piloting special walking zones in residential communities.
A campaign of strict enforcement of legislation means dog owners must abide by basic standards, such as cleaning up after their dog and keeping their pet on a leash.
He Jiaming, from the Hangzhou urban management committee, said the campaign has raised dog owners’ awareness of their responsibilities, while other residents appreciate the cleaner, safer public environment.
“The campaign has been the most effective of recent years. We need to maintain the momentum and make regular improvements. Therefore, we are pushing forward guidelines on promoting civilized dog ownership,” he said.
The platform will cover the entire sector, from birth, sale, licensing and vaccination to adoption and medical treatment.
Microchips will ensure the dog’s information is recorded on the platform, providing access to details and the owner’s address, thus making it easier to find them if a dog is abandoned or lost.
The information will be kept on record, so the platform will help authorities educate or even punish repeat offenders, He said.
A number of open public areas for dogs in communities and at riverbanks are planned to reduce friction between them, their owners and members of the public, he added.
Hangzhou is not the first city to enforce such measures – for example, Shanghai has long employed a digital dog management system and offers free microchip implantation when licenses are issued.
Zhu Shuilin, chairman of the Zhejiang Small Animal Protection Association, said the rising number of pet dogs nationwide has triggered tension. In response, many cities are stepping up efforts to regulate urban dog ownership, but there is still room for improvement.
The United States has a 200-year history of dog governance, compared with China’s 30 years. The American Kennel Club was established in 1884 to advocate responsible ownership and offer trustworthy information about breeding, health and training, Zhu said.
According to the statistics portal Statista, 26 percent of households in the United Kingdom own a dog, but it is against the law to allow them to run wild, and owners who allow their dog to carry out a fatal attack face up to 14 years in prison.
“These countries have a long history of dog management that our government can learn from. The authorities should revise the relevant regulations and laws over time, and strengthen punishments for irresponsible dog owners,” Zhu said.