Forget to leash your dog? Chinese credit scoring system for owners means you could lose your pet

  • Since Jinan rolled out a credit scoring system for dog owners more than 1,400 have been penalised
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2018, 11:06am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 October, 2018, 1:13pm

In most parts of the world, letting Rover out without a leash or not cleaning up after him can result in a fine for creating a public nuisance. But in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan, irresponsible pet owners can wave goodbye to their four legged friends.

In early 2017, Jinan rolled out a credit scoring system for dog owners, and so far more than 1,400 have been penalised, with more than 120 losing enough points to lose their dogs.

Similar to driving licences, each owner starts out with a certain number of points – in this case 12. Irresponsible pet ownership behaviour, such as not leashing one’s dog, results in a deduction of three points, with a repeat offence costing 6 points and a fine of between 200 to 500 yuan (US$29 to US$72). Failing to renew one’s dog licence on time results in a deduction of the entire 12 points. Positive behaviour, such as sharing proper dog ownership knowledge in one’s community or volunteering at a shelter, adds between one to three points to the score.

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Owners who have 12 points deducted within two years will have their dogs confiscated by the city until the owner takes a course and passes an exam on proper dog ownership.

The dog owner credit scoring system comes as China sees a rise in dog ownership. According to a white paper by Goumin Wang, a social platform for dog owners, there are close to 34 million dog owners in China and almost 51 million dogs. The system is similar to other credit scoring programmes that are being piloted in China, which aim to judge Chinese residents based on their creditworthiness and behaviour.

As the number of dog owners grows, there has been a corresponding boom in the pet-services industry, from luxury dog food to dog spas and massages. According to Goumin Wang’s report, dog owners spend an average of 5,580 yuan on their pets each year.

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Since rolling out the scoring system, 1,430 Jinan dog owners have been penalised under the scheme, with 122 losing all of their points – and their dogs. Of those, 12 are still dog-less because they have not passed the test.

Authorities say the credit scoring system for dog owners has been effective, with the number of complaints about unleashed dogs down 43 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year. There has also been a 65 per cent reduction in dog disturbance complaints over the same period.

The scheme has been praised by state media for its effectiveness, some of which have called for a nationwide implementation.

Frentee Ji, who owns a French bulldog in Guangzhou, supports the scheme, saying that encouraging responsible pet ownership benefits not just dog owners but also the general public.

“When I’m walking my dog, I don’t really want it to play with other dogs who are not leashed by their owners,” said the 27-year old Ji. “Even the most tame of dogs can attack if they feel threatened, and it’s hard to restrain them if they are not on a leash.”