Chinese city brings in penalty points for dog owners

People walking their dogs in China Image copyright AFP
Image caption If dog owners lose all their points they will have to reapply for a licence

A city in eastern China is tackling negligent dog owners with a new driving licence-style system.

The pilot scheme, which started this month, gives pooches in the city of Shaoxing a licence pre-loaded with 12 points which are then gradually docked for breaking the rules, Qianjiang Evening News reports. Taking a dog into a public place such as a school or restaurant will cost an owner three points, while "failing to take effective measures" to stop a badly behaving dog results in six points being docked. A microchip under the dog's skin will hold data on the penalties incurred.

The biggest penalties are reserved for owners who use their pets to cause deliberate wounding, and those who abandon or abuse their animals - they'll lose all 12 points and be banned from reapplying for an ownership licence. "Like drink-driving and other bad behaviour, dog owners will be blacklisted, and won't be able to raise dogs again," says city official Zhang Zhuoming. The paper says Shaoxing has experienced problems with both stray and domestic dogs, with more than 7,000 dog biting incidents registered last year.

It's an idea which has proved popular with social media users, although some think it won't be effective in preventing people mistreating their pets. "There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners," writes one user on the Sina Weibo microblogging site. Another person thinks the scheme is good because "some people are not qualified" to own dogs. And one user wonders if it could be used for bad behaviour elsewhere, asking: "Can a marking scheme for civil servants also be implemented?"

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