Chinese Regulations for Dogs

July 1, 2021Zihao Yu


Dogs are one of the animals closely related to human life. Some of them are companion animals as friends or family members, some serve as service dogs for the disabled for hearing, guiding, or mobility assistance, and others work as police dogs or military working dogs as detectors, trackers, sentries, and scouts. On the other hand, On the other hand, because of the need to control rabies and fierce dogs, the regulations for dogs are quite complicated at the local level. This article will explain the Chinese regulation of dogs in different jurisdictions of China.

Mainland China

There is neither anti-cruelty provision nor general animal welfare law/protection law in mainland China. At the national level, dogs are not covered by the Wildlife Protection Law. Livestock Law only covers the species listed in the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources, and dogs are not on the list. 

In February 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress released the Decision to Comprehensively Prohibit the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Break the Bad Habit of Excessive Consumption of Wild Animals, and Effectively Secure the Life and Health of the People. The Decision bans the activities of hunting, trade, transportation, and eating wildlife animals. (Article 1) According to the decision, only the species listed on the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources can be raised for food purposes. (Article 3) Dogs are neither wildlife nor livestock, and the decision did not explicit permission nor prohibition of dog meat.

In March 2020, Shenzhen passed the Regulations of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone on Prohibition of Eating Wild Animals. Article 2 prohibits eating animals and their products used for non-edible use such as scientific experiments, public display, pet breeding, etc. Article 3 limits the edible animals based on the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources and other aquatic animals that are not forbidden to eat in accordance with laws and regulations. 

In April 2020, Zhuhai passed the Regulations of Zhuhai Special Economic Zone on Prohibition of Eating Wild Animals. Article 2 only prohibits eating wildlife animals. Article 3 adopts the same statement in the Shenzhen document. 

*Zhuhai and Shenzhen are 2 of the 7 Special Economic Zone in China with local legislative power.

Rabies is covered as a Type II disease by the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law. It is required that units and individuals raising dogs shall be immunized with rabies vaccine on a regular basis in accordance with the regulations, and apply for registration with the local dog-raising registration authority with the immunization certificate issued by the animal diagnosis and treatment institution, and those who bring dogs out of the house shall wear dog tags and take dog ropes and other measures to prevent dogs from hurting people and spreading diseases. (Article 30.1-2) Specific measures for the prevention and management of breeding dogs shall be formulated by provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government. (Article 30.5)

Other regulations on raising dogs are all at the local level. Local laws are relatively lacking in stability and rationality. Some cities limit the sizes or breeds of dogs, and others set the limitation or requirements on walking dogs.

"Chinese Dog" by WabbitWanderer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hong Kong SAR

According to SPCA, in 2005, it was estimated that 286,300 households (12% of all households) in Hong Kong had some 524,800 companion animals. The largest group of the animals, 37.7% of which were 197,90 dogs. But sadly, there are between 5,000-7,000 stray dogs handled by the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) annually, and the majority are put down if homes cannot be found for them.

With regard to dogs, Hong Kong has the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, Dogs and Cats Ordinance, and Rabies Ordinance.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance defines the animals as any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, or any other vertebrate or invertebrate whether wild or tame. (Article 2) Article 3 prohibits activities harming animals including abusing animals, neglecting animals without adequate and sufficient food, water, shelter, and necessary veterinary care, inappropriate transport with unnecessary suffering, and animal fighting. Violation of Article 3 would be liable on summary conviction to a fine of HK$200,000 and to imprisonment for 3 years. 

The Rabies Ordinance is an ordinance to provide for the prevention and control of rabies and for related matters. Animals in this Ordinance means all members of the class Mammalia (mammals), except human beings (Schedule 1 Part I) and dogs are listed separately in Part II. The authorized officer may destroy any animal that he has reasonable grounds to believe (a) is a prohibited animal; (b) is or could be rabid, or (c) has been in contact with a rabid animal. (Article 6) Article 7 gives the authority the power to seize and detain or destroy animals, and Article 8 gives the authority the power to seize and sterilize or destroy animal products. A keeper of any animal who, without reasonable excuse, abandons that animal commits an offense and is liable to a fine at level 3 and to imprisonment for 6 months. (Article 22.1) Where an animal is without reasonable excuse abandoned from a conveyance, the owner and the operator of the conveyance shall each be guilty of an offense and liable to a fine at level 2 and to imprisonment for 3 months. (Article 22.2) Article 23 requires all dogs to be on a leash or under control to be in a public place or any place from which it may reasonably be expected to wander into a public place if it is not on a leash or otherwise under control. Articles 24 and 25 set the liability of the keeper if the animals or dogs bite others. Part IV of the Ordinance regulates rabies.

The Dogs and Cats Ordinance is to provide for the keeping, regulation, and control of dogs and cats, for the prohibition of the slaughter of dogs and cats, and for related matters. In this Ordinance, dogs include male and female animals of any age. The prohibition of the slaughter of dogs and cats and of the sale and use of the flesh of dogs and cats is included in Article 3(1)(b). Dangerous dogs are regulated under Article 5 with a liability of a fine of $500 for every day. 

Macau SAR

According to Animal Protection Law 2016, animal owners are in general prohibited from abandoning their pets and must provide food, drinking water, sufficient space for free movement, proper living conditions, and necessary preventive and medical care to animals. The law has the special mandatory requirement of muzzles in public areas for dogs that weigh 23 kilograms or more, or those considered dangerous. Dogs must be leashed or put in carriers when in public areas and dogs living in construction sites and junkyards must be neutered. The criminal charges may be a punishment by a one-year term of imprisonment, as well as administrative sanctions of up to MOP100,000 in fines and other additional penalties. Read more here.

"Chinese Dog, Hutong" by adamclyde is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Taiwan (ROC)

Animal Protection Act (2021) is aiming to protect animals and improve animal welfare. Animals are defined as “a vertebrate, such as a dog or a cat, reared and tended by human as a pet, an economic animal or a laboratory animal” and pets are defined as “an animal, such as a dog or a cat, reared and tended for pleasure or companionship” in the Act. (Article 3) The Act sets the liability for an animal owner for providing proper, clean, and harmless food as well as adequate and clean water, providing a proper living environment, providing necessary precaution against infectious animal diseases, preventing the animal from harassment, abuse or injury, providing adequate room for a caged pet with sufficient out-of-cage activities, and providing other proper care, etc. (Article 5.2) Article 6 prohibits the action of harassing, abusing or injuring any animal, and Article 6.1 prohibits any animal performance without the permission. The animal transporter shall “pay attention to food, water, excrement, surrounding conditions and safety of animals being transported while keeping them from panicking, suffering or harm.” (Article 9.1) Article 6-2 sets regulations on the Maximum weekly hours, maximum service years, old-age care, and requirements for dogs owned by government agencies for the quarantine, controlled-drug enforcement, police, rescue, or national defense purposes. Killing a dog/cat, selling, buying, eating, or possessing the remains (carcass or offal) or food containing ingredients thereof is prohibited by Article 12.3, with the liability of a jail term or penal servitude under two years, in conjunction with a fine over NT$200,000 and under NT$2,000,000 (Article 25) and other liabilities.

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