With the hopes of reducing rabies in a country where 318 people died from the disease in September alone, China has made a bold move to ban households to one dog in nine areas of the country. This raises many questions, not the least of which include what will happen to those dogs that exceed the limit and how successful such a ban will actually be in curbing the rise in those suffering from rabies.
The official Xinhua news agency reports,”Only one pet dog is allowed per household in the zones, and dangerous and large dogs will be banned. Anyone keeping an unlicensed dog will face prosecution.” In August, attempts were made to deal with the rabies outbreak in the southwestern Chinese county of Mouding where 54,429 dogs were massacred.
Several animal advocacy groups in the US have weighed in on the issue as reported by the New York Times, including the Humane Society of the United States and PETA.:
“The Humane Society of the United States said the Chinese policy failed to address the underlying reason for the rabies crisis. The focus should be on rabies vaccination rather than a limitation on the number of dogs in a household,” said Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president and chief executive. “Large-scale vaccination programs aimed at reducing and eradicating rabies programs do work in large nations.”
Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the policy might prevent people from acquiring more dogs than they could care for. It’s sad that it comes to this,” she said, “but for the dogs’ sake, restricting people to one dog stops impulse acquisition, encourages better care and will reduce the numbers who are suffering on the streets.””
Additionally, dog owners will be banned from taking their dogs to many public places including markets, parks, shops, and sightseeing areas.