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Southwest China’s dog-walking ban unravels

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Dog-walking in China is under scrutiny

NEWS AND VIEWS: The county of Weixin, Yunnan province, had laid down the law on dog-walking because of complaints of dog bites. They had ruled that dogs in urban areas could not roam free but had to be kept tied up in a cage or enclosure of some sort. Dog owners who broke the rule would initially be given a warning and a subsequent offence would have resulted in a fine while a third offence would result in the dog being seized and euthanised. This was a three strikes and out ban against which there was uproar, on my interpretation, by the dog owning public.

Dog-walking in China is under scrutiny

A woman walks her dog off the leash on a street in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, July 8, 2017. the site of a previous dog-walking ban. Photo: VCG.

The local authorities had hoped to improve dog ownership by correcting “uncivilised dog ownership” but the plan backfired. The rule makers were described as “very extreme” and the local authorities were described as “backward”. The lawmakers immediately rowed back saying that they would change their mind and that they “will do the right thing”.

The Times reports that dog ownership is a relatively new concept in China but there has been rapid expansion especially in the cities. Dog breeds considered aggressive have been banned while dog owners are required to keep their animals on leads in public and to clean up dog poop. Pets must be vaccinated and registered. I don’t know the local law on micro-chipping but I would expect one to be in place.

It appears that dog ownership can be the cause of aggravation between neighbours perhaps over the enforcement or otherwise of the dog ownership rules. In 2018, Wenshan, also in Yunnan, banned dog-walking between 7 AM and 10 PM. The administrators also decided to backtrack arguing that their previous rules were only advisory.

Comment: the difficulty that the Chinese authorities are struggling with over dog ownership is unsurprising. There is always a very difficult balance to be struck with respect to cat and dog ownership in allowing freedoms while also curtailing bad behaviour from people and their pets.

The news comes from The Paper, a state-run news site via Western news media including The Times hardcopy newspaper.

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