In a move aimed at keeping dogs under control, Shanghai has started implanting electronic chips in the city's 90,000. Officials say the 'electronic identification cards' will help track down the owners of stray dogs and pets who bite people.
'It's like an identification card for dogs. It makes management easier,' a police official said.
It was also revealed last week that Shanghai will be one of the first cities on the mainland to issue electronic identity cards to its human residents.
Some dog owners worry about the impact of hi-tech methods on the health of their pampered pooches.
Retired People's University professor Lu Di, founder of the China Society for the Protection of Small Animals, said: 'This is cruel treatment. If you put something under the dog's skin, the dog will surely feel very uncomfortable.' Police will inject the chips into dogs' necks when owners bring them to police for their annual licence registration and vaccinations. Cats and other animals will apparently escape the requirement.
The chip, which one official described as 'the size of a grain of rice', includes the dog's birth date and the owner's contact information. Officials can read the information on the chips using equipment similar to bar scanners used at supermarkets.
The chip implanting campaign started last week and will run to April 15. Dogs without the chips will be considered unlicensed, allowing police to fine the owners or catch the creatures.
Hong Kong has a similar practice, and Britain requires such chips as 'pet passports' for animals entering the country.
People will receive their integrated circuit cards, containing personal information, to replace the plastic laminated cards now issued nationwide.
Shanghai has already issued social security cards and cards to pay for city transport using similar technology.
The media did not say when the city will start issuing the new identity cards.
The move could help boost the local microchip industry. Shanghai Huahong Group is one of several domestic companies vying to supply the new cards.