Beijing: In a move to control increasing incidents of rabies, a city in China has banned raising of pet dogs and ordered the owners to get rid of their canines by August 10, sending shock waves among pet lovers.

Dog owners living in downtown Jiangmen in Guandong Province have been asked to move their pets out of the city failing which the canines will be forcefully seized, reports said.

The new rule bans dogs from downtown Pengjiang, Jianghai and Xinhui districts, with exceptions for those kept for special purposes.

Dog owners without a permit must decide what to do with their pets by August 10. After that, government workers will contact those who refuse to comply with the rule in a two-week campaign.

Starting August 26, any dog seen in the restricted area will either be seized or killed, the order said.

The new rule is likely to affect more than 30,000 dogs in the city of four million people.

The Jiangmen government says 42 people were killed due to rabies during the last three years but pet owners argue that it was unfair to snatch their pets for the mistakes by few.

According to statistics, from the Ministry of Health, rabies was the third deadliest infectious disease in 2010 after AIDS and tuberculosis.

While the local government defended the move saying it was aimed at preventing and controlling rabies, to maintain public order and sanitation, and to create a sound environment for the people, the news sent shock wave across the country as more and more Chinese adopted dogs in recent years to overcome loneliness.

With their only child either away for studies or for work, Chinese people took to dogs in a big way so much so that hundreds of dog lovers waylaid a lorry carrying dogs to slaughter house outside Beijing and got them released after making sizable payment.

With their popularity on the high, the prices for pet dogs have gone up leaps and bounds as one dog owner bought a famous Tibetan Mastiff for USD 4.5 lakh last year.

"Banning all pet dogs, taking them away and killing them is a bit too much," a 24-year-old Pengjiang district resident who owns a 2-year-old poodle said. "This is so unfair and so inhumane. Those dogs should not be the scapegoats of certain irresponsible pet owners," she said.

Some people supported the move saying that dogs have become a nuisance. This is not the first anti-dog campaign to be launched in Jiangmen.

Back in August 2005, the city also encouraged people living in downtown areas to hand over their dogs, but received no response. Shanghai, one of China's biggest cities, has brought about a one dog rule permitting people to have only one in order to restrict the numbers.