You can’t have too many friends, right? Wrong. The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao frowns upon indulging too many loving yaars — of the four-legged kind, despite all the PR about dogs being man’s best friends. In fact, finding Qingdao’s pooch populace hitting a nerve-racking high, and having to deal with the implications of that prescient pop song, Who let the dogs out, the authorities have imposed a “one-dog policy” now. According to the new regulations, Qingdao’s pooch-pals must now register their sole pet for $59 or 400 yuan. In addition, owners must ensure dogs have rabies vaccines, a license and an electronic chip — implanted in the dog’s neck, bow-ow! — with information about the dog, its pet, sorry, its owner, and its vaccines.
The move aims to shrink the number of dogs in Qingdao where locals are apparently fond of displaying Made in China moolah via pricey imported breeds. The authorities particularly hope this will reduce dogs in the city’s heavily populated downtown — where the extra dogs will go is unknown; perhaps there’ll be a Cultural Revolution for canines, with elite breeds finding themselves on rustic farms (hopefully, this won’t be a dog-eat-dog world) — and also silence arguments breaking out between dog fans and those who only feel terror upon sighting a Terrier.
But the move also shows China’s enduring fascination with controlling its personal and public spaces, measuring, mapping, numbering and limiting everything, if possible, to that desirable digit of one.
The country’s one-child policy, recently lifted, made history with the tight controls imposed on family sizes. The country remains in thrall of one party and, at any given time, one leader (although Mao remains number one amongst equals). And China has worked relentlessly at going from Asia’s underdog to the world’s number one top dog today. Given how it’s planning even its pooch population now, clearly the Chinese do much more than puppy love. This is what distinguishes them from nations that simply let sleeping dogs lie.