HARBIN - Harbin will implement a one-dog policy to regulate the growing pet population in the city, but the rule worries many pet owners.
The policy, which takes effect on April 1, allows households in the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province to have no more than one dog.
The policy was adopted to address public safety and sanitation concerns, for the growing pet population has led to an increase in dog attacks and animal waste in public places.
Under the policy, the police will charge 300-yuan ($47) to license a dog for the first year and 200 yuan for each subsequent year. The money will be used for dogs' immunizations and digital ID as well as to insure against injuries caused by dogs.
"The policy is meant to help limit the pet population and enforce dog owners' good behavior," said Yin Hao, vice-director of the lawmaking office of the standing committee of Harbin's people's congress.
Yin conceded that "there might be some difficulties enforcing the policy, and we know it is not going to solve all of the problems caused by dogs".
Some residents are not happy about the policy.
"I can't imagine how my parents will respond when they know that we have to give up one member of our family," said Zheng Zening, a 27-year-old teacher whose parents have had two miniature pinschers for six years.
"The two dogs were licensed. And we would like to pay for the managerial fee. But both of these dogs are part of our family. How can we choose which one to give up? We will be grief-stricken if we have to abandon one of them," Zheng said.
The policy also bars residents from raising "large and dangerous" dogs. The police will later release a list of "dangerous" breeds.
Some residents are worried their pet will fall into the "large or dangerous" category.
Bao Yunhe and her husband, Han Tongbo, have a Siberian husky, named Kaka.
"We got married last year, and we don't plan to have a baby for five years," Bao said. "We raise Kaka and treat it like our baby. He is very docile and wouldn't hurt anything."
"I don't think it's scientific to categorize 'dangerous dogs' simply by size or breed. Large dogs are not necessarily aggressive. In fact, large dogs are more popular in Western countries because of their good temper," Bao said.
The young couple said they will send their dog to a suburban farm not far from Harbin if the policy is enforced.
But residents are mostly happy about at least one part of the policy, which bans dogs from shopping malls, supermarkets, cinemas, libraries and other public places.
"That is good for keeping public order and making the city clean," said Yang Wei, director of the Gonglu community in Nangang district.
"Some owners don't clean their pets' waste, and that causes complaints. We hope this policy will set a standard for dog owners' behavior," Yang said.
Zhou Huiying contributed to this story.