SHANGHAI - Shanghai officials hope to curb the growing popularity of man's best friend in the city with a one-dog policy.
A new draft dog law would limit each household to just one canine, citing Shanghai's population of 20 million people and limited living space, the official China Daily reported Thursday.
Under the policy, dog owners also must give their pets' puppies to eligible no-dog households or to government-approved adoption agencies before the pups reach three months, the newspaper said.
Dog ownership has grown alongside China's fast-expanding middle class with official estimates putting Shanghai's pet dog population at 800,000 -- although only a quarter of that number are registered, the report said.
The draft law also called for the annual license fee to be cut to 300 yuan ($45) from the current range of 1,000 to 2,000 yuan. Critics have said high fees discourage people from registering and vaccinating dogs.
The report quoted one Shanghai dog-lover as saying officials should focus on educating citizens on how to raise pets responsibly -- such as having them neutered -- instead of developing draconian measures.
"The government should improve public knowledge about how to raise a dog and how to prevent them from attacking people... instead of forcing us to raise one dog only," a resident surnamed Wang said.
The government said tighter regulation was needed due to rampant barking, unscooped waste, and the growing risk of dog attacks, which affect the city's environment and sanitation, the report said.