A controversial new law in Shanghai is taking aim at man's best friend.

Dog owners in the city are scrambling after the government passed a new law limiting homes to one dog each, the news agency Agence France-Presse reported.

Although the law seems harsh, dog owners are allowed to keep their extra pets -- but must give away their dog's puppies to an adoption agency or eligible dog-free home. Alarmingly to pet enthusiasts, more than 600,000 dogs may be killed because of fears of rabies, according to British newspaper the Independent.

The policy goes into effect May 15.

Dog owners said the government's approach to controlling the population is a bad alternative to just providing education about pet ownership. According to the newspaper, thousands of people have complained of being bitten by dogs in recent years.

"The government should improve public knowledge about how to raise a dog and how to prevent them from attacking people and littering instead of forcing us to raise one dog only," one dog owner complained to a Chinese newspaper.

The latest count of dogs in major Chinese cities was 58 million by 2009 -- and growing at an astounding rate of 30% annually, according to AFP, as attitudes toward dogs are rapidly changing in the country.

But the policy may have root in older Chinese politics.

The law is reminiscent of the one-child policy in China, which was adopted in 1979. It also has precedent across China, where the dog population has exploded in recent years.

In 2009, Guangzhou, another major Chinese city, passed a similar law as a response to the city's stray dog problem, according to the Independent.

That law was a little harsher, though. In Guangzhou, dog owners had to give away their extra dog -- not just their puppies as Shanghai's policy requires.

"These dogs are like family," one dog owner told the newspaper at the time. "How can you keep one and get rid of the others?"

Beijing also restricts the ownership of large dogs.

Vendors might not be so thrilled with the new law, either -- pet owners spend an estimated $2 billion a year in China, according to AFP.


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