A social credit system for citizens isn’t exactly novel in China – but did you know this applies to pet owners?
A credit system for dog owners in Jinan City, east China’s Shandong Province has seen dramatic improvement in helping dogs stay on their leashes in public, since it was first implemented on January 1, 2017.
According to a 2018 report from the city's police department, 80 percent of dog owners registered under the program have kept their pets on leash – a 60-percent increase from the previous year, and more are going out of their way to be courteous neighbors when handling their dogs.
The number of residential complaints about unleashed dogs in 2017 has also decreased by 43 percent compared to 2016. What's more, complaints about barking and other threats were down by 65 percent.
The merit program, which operates as a point system, assigns 12 points when dog owners are registered. With various points for both rewards and penalties ranging from 200 to 2,000 yuan (about 30 to 293 US dollars), its goal is to educate and encourage people to be more responsible dog owners.
The bottom line is, owners face the risk of having their dogs taken away temporarily, according to the system. If taken away, owners will have to learn appropriate protocols and pass a test on pet policy to reclaim their animals.
During the program’s 20-month course, a total number of 1,430 owners were penalized, among them 122 people had all points stripped away following stubborn negative behavior, including one who left their dogs unleashed too many times, reported cnr.
“110 of them had taken their pets back, 12 owners still remain to pass the test,” Chen Chao, a policeman from Jinan PD said.
“Most of the time, people are cooperative. If they’re not, we will assure them that no harm and mistreatment will come to the animals; and if their pets have to be taken away, it’s because they had broken too many pet laws,” Chen added.
Nonetheless, if enthusiastic owners help police educate and supervise their peers, they can earn up to three points at a time. Points can also be earned if they volunteer at local animal shelter and communities to help raise awareness of pet policies, Beijing Youth Daily reports.