A county in China’s Yunnan province has been forced to reconsider a policy banning residents from walking their dogs in public from 20 November.
A circular said anyone caught doing so three times would have their pets confiscated and killed.
Officials said it was to protect residents, as there had been incidents where unleashed pets had bitten people.
However, the policy has been met with outrage on social media, prompting officials to say they would “rethink”.
“These are uncivilised policies to promote ‘civilised’ dog-raising,” one said, with others criticising the “extreme” measure.
The circular issued on 13 November mandates pet owners to keep their dogs indoors at all times. It also says that the policy is to promote “civilised” dog-raising habits.
Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Singapore, said that confining dogs indoors permanently can be “detrimental to the animal’s welfare”.
“Instead of banning the walking of dogs, educating pet owners on responsible pet ownership and putting in place regulations can be considered instead,” such as keeping a dog on a leash at all times, he said.
Under the new policy, pet owners who are caught walking their dogs in public will be issued a warning in the first instance.
If they are caught again, they will be fined between 50 yuan ($7; £5) and 200 yuan. A third violation will lead to their pets being confiscated and killed by local authorities.
In 2018, the city of Hangzhou banned dog walking during daytime and prohibited larger breeds. But if implemented, this will be the first time a ban on dog walking at any time of the day will come into effect.
Shanghai, Qingdao and Chengdu have strict one-dog policies, where each household is restricted to having a single dog.
In Huangshi, residents are banned from raising large canines measuring over 45cm.
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