Beijing’s big dog ban raises debate on dog ownership
July 28, 2013:
Beijing has stepped up enforcement on banning large and vicious dogs, which has sparked heated debate about the height and breed of the animals and owners’ responsibility of regulating canine behavior.
Beijing issued the Regulations on Dog Ownership in 2003. Since June, local authorities have stepped up enforcement measures by banning dog breeds taller than 35cm in eight key administrative districts and densely populated rural areas. Each household in the areas is allowed to keep one dog.
The initiative was implemented following a spate of dog attacks and a number of rabies-related deaths.
Li Xiangjie was forced to move out of the urban area and walk her Samoyed either at 5am or after 10pm to avoid police raids. Li and many other panic-stricken dog owners were worried that their pets would be confiscated.
“Some dogs under 35 cm are likely to be aggressive while some large breeds such as Samoyed and Husky are very docile,” said Li.
Animal experts pointed out that the size of dogs should not be directly related to their level of ferocity. Some animal welfare organizations have called for an amendment to the ban and a more scientific and humane solution to regulating dog ownership.
“The viciousness of a dog should be judged according to breeds instead of heights. Using the height as a decisive factor is not reasonable,” said Shen Ruihong, secretary-general of China Beijing Kennel Club.
However, many people considered the ban as a safeguard to their safety.
“The population density of Beijing is high. Usually, large dogs are more offensive and could threaten people’s safety,” said local Wang Xijun.
Some foreign countries have imposed strict punishments on dog owners.
In the United States, if a dog bites a person, the owner is subject to as much as 90 days of imprisonment. In Israel, dog owners need a certificate, according to Shen.
Rather than confiscating large dogs, animal experts suggested promoting responsible ownership and punishment for irresponsible owners.
Tian Haiyan, the director of Beijing Guanshang Animal Hospital, recommended that the government should commission animal hospitals or animal training centers to conduct training schemes.
Trained dogs could be awarded with certificates, which determine their suitability to breed. If these dogs attack in the future, the organizations will be held accountable.
“Direct punishment on dogs does not solve the problem. Dog owners should bear the responsibility of leashing or using masks for their dogs, which will significantly reduce the risk,” said Zheng Zhishan, a project officer of the Companion Animal Rescue Program at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Beijing.
“The government should work out a more reasonable legislation or suitable punishment according to the behavior of dog owners,” said Li Xiangjie.
Content Source: Want China Times