The number of dogs and cats in China is increasing all the time. Cities and counties have different rules for keeping them.
BAIQUAN White-furred Hold on sniffs wild kiwi rhizome. As often on weekends, his host has driven an hour and a half from Beijing to the peace of the nature park.
The clean air of Mount Baiquan, the mirror-clear water of the small lake and the rich vegetation of the nature trail around it attract you here. The one-and-a-half-year-old retriever can also be stimulated by his fellow dogs.
With a population of 22 million, Beijing has only a few dog parks, so many have to drive all the way here so that the pet can get the exercise it needs – just like the owner and hostess.
– My wife and I don’t have children, so the dog is a bit like a child to us. I like our dog very much and want to take him with me whenever possible, Pitou’s host Zhou Ziyu says.
Zhou is a typical Chinese man in his thirties who moved from Inner Mongolia to the capital. Unlike his parents’ generation, he is in no rush to have a child of his own.
Neither does a terrier DouDou with the hostess With Fengling.
– Like most dog owners, our pet is like a child to us. We take care of its physical and mental well-being. We would be very worried if it got sick, Fengling describes.
At least another hundred million pets
Dogs tell a lot about China’s development, which the country’s authorities do not want to keep up with.
According to the country’s Statistics Finland, there were almost 117 million dogs and cats in China last year, of which there were somewhat more cats. The statistics lack information from rural areas, so the actual number of pets is much higher than this.
The law that entered into force in 2021 requires that dogs and cats must be registered.
However, the rules regarding holding them vary from place to place. Dogs are not allowed to run completely free even in Baiquan Nature Park.
There are different restrictions on going outside in different parts of the country. For example, in Hangzhou, dogs are only allowed to walk the streets between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
– It is understandable that different cities have different rules. Of course, some kind of nationwide regulation would be excellent, white poodle Peach’s i.e. the host of the Peach Lu Zhao ponders.
Not three children, but one dog
The Chinese people’s changed relationship with pets is illustrated by the fact that, according to statistics, 37 percent of their owners were born in 1995 and after.
Many young people dream of their own dog instead of a child. Even so many that the authorities are worried about it. Birth of China has been one of the lowest in the world for several years.
China had a one-child policy between 1979 and 2016. Two or more children were accepted only with a special permit.
Politics led to be distorted in China’s demographic structure. The proportion of the population over 65 is currently around 13 percent, but it is expected to rise to 30 percent by 2050.
The Chinese government currently encourages having three children. Financial incentives are offered to such families.
There are no subsidies for dog owners. In Beijing, the license needed to keep a dog costs 1,000 yuan, or about 128 euros per year.
For 29-year-old Lu Zhao, costs are increased by, for example, long distances to dog parks and Baiquan. Lu doesn’t know how much it costs her to keep the Peach Poodle in total.
– I have never counted. The value of a beloved family member is not measured in money, he says.