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Unless you count the teddy bears the size of an obese 5th grader young Chinese men give their paramours, there are no big pets allowed in Beijing. And if you own a dog, or are thinking about getting one, there are a lot of other rules you should be aware of unless you want your canine to be criminal.|
In Beijing it is mandatory that dogs of all sizes be registered, if you haven’t done so yet you should do it ASAP because, as part of a public health program, police do random dog registration checks. Around major holidays the enforcement ratchets up a couple notches and since getting Fido registered is neither quick nor easy you will want to start the process as soon as you can.
Within the 5th ring road big dogs like Huskies, or anything that can’t be fit into a bicycle basket, are forbidden. The official definition of a big dog is any pooch that stands more than 35cm from ground to shoulder, but if you have a big Beagle, Maltese, or an overgrown Poodle you may still be able to get it registered. Dalmatians and Dobermans are among the breeds the police inside the 5th ring dislike.
If you absolutely must have a second dog you should have a friend register it. Registering it to your roommate won’t work; dogs are registered to households, not individual owners. Similarly, if you have a Tibetan Mastiff within the 5th ring, get a friend out in the boonies to register it for you.
If you’ve read all this and are still determined to go ahead and get a dog, read the following steps carefully to make sure your new best friend is strictly legal.
The mandatory registration is done at the local pai chu suo (派出所 | pàichūsuǒ) which, although it means local police station, is not necessarily the closest police station. Each district in Beijing (Chaoyang, Haidian, etc.) has several pai chu suo – the place where you register when you move or get a new visa. Your dog registers at the same place you do, If you’re not sure where your pai chu suo is (you have to go the one nearest to you) ask building management. Because they almost never leave the premises, the bao an (teenage security guards at your complex), often have no clue where anything is.
One city, many systems: some police at the pai chu suo may want to see the dog in person (or in animal) when you first come in, some don’t – before you try to get Sparky in a cab it’s best to call first and ask. And then go there immediately while the person you talked to is still there.
For Fido to be official, he’ll need two passport-sized photos. Since it’s not quite as official as a visa you can probably take a headshot yourself and have it printed and cut down to size.
You will need to bring all your China paperwork with you - your passport, residency permit, and pretty much every official piece of paper you can find. In addition to your bona fides, you must bring your lease or the title to your house.
Making your furry friend official in Beijing costs 1000 RMB, renewing the annual registration is 500. If you have an official neuter/spay certificate you should receive a 500 yuan discount on your initial registration. Like everything bureaucratic, this is all subject to change at any moment, and depending on who you’re talking to. Still, with patience, persistence, and probably some help from a Chinese friend, your pooch will have an official photo ID within the week.
If you live outside the 5th ring you still have to register your dog. And no matter where you live you need to make sure dogs are okay with your landlord and building management. Outside the 5th ring you will still need to check with management to find out if it’s okay to have a giant Doberman or other big dog on the premises.
Even for dog lovers this process may be a bit daunting. Keeping a dog in any city is problematic as dogs generally don’t like lying around your apartment all the time and would prefer to be dashing through fields pointing birds or something. Beijing only has one park (Chaoyang) where (for 10 kuai) your dog can run around and socialize - other parks do not allow dogs.
Another thing you should keep in mind when acquiring a pet in Beijing is how long you’re going to be here. Dogs live 12 years on average, are you going to be teaching English here in a decade? Is your company going to keep you in Beijing for another 12 years with the economy shriveling?
Be responsible, unlike 400 bootleg DVDs or a toaster oven, a dog – especially a big one – can’t be easily unloaded on friends when your attempts to get your visa renewed fail and you have to return from whence you came.