A big pile of annoying: Dog owners, scoop it up!

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/8 5:03:39

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT

Sometimes when you are rushing to the subway or bus station, a pile of dog poop will jump into sight. You step over it, only to run into another pile not long after. Such Mario video game-style adventures can happen to you every day in China, whether you are in first-tier cities like Beijing or in more remote towns. We say dogs are a man's best friend, but dog poo is certainly not.

This must have served as a shock to the many newcomers to China, one of which is Koji Yano, a Japanese actor who is very popular in China. Several video snapshots recently posted online showed how he remarked that Chinese are not qualified to raise pet dogs since most dog owners turn a blind eye to the excrement of their dogs in public places. In comparison, Japanese dog owners always bring plastic bags and tissues to clean up after their dogs when walking.

Yano made the remarks five years ago in a TV show that compared the good and bad points of China, Japan and South Korea. His remarks set off heated discussion among Chinese netizens, for which he soon apologized and reiterated his love for China - his second hometown. Or maybe Yano was more so impressed by the massive anti-Japanese demonstrations in 2012 in dozens of Chinese cities.

Five years on, it seems that Chinese netizens are showing more rationality and open-mindedness toward criticism, since most comments under Yano's posting of an apology on Sina Weibo now agree with his words, saying "Why did he apologize for speaking the truth?" But a more important reason may be that many netizens are also annoyed by dogs that run loose in their own neighborhoods. Embarrassingly so, Yano's criticism is still relevant five years later.

You are also likely to bump into a little dog that insanely barks at you, probably just for fun, when the elevator door opens; or you might meet a fuzzy Alaskan dog let off the leash that follows you and seemingly intends to bite. The owner may assure you the dog won't bite anyone. But you still feel scared initially, and can you believe them?

The surging number of pet dog owners in China, which reportedly has hit 150 million, signifies the nation's transformation from an agricultural country to a modern country. Dogs are no longer raised to be doorkeepers or herders, but to be loyal companions or even a member of the family. However, while pet dogs are now raised in a modern way, with pet services like hairdressing, clothing and even spas available, their owners have not turned truly modern. Even in the famous Japanese manga series Crayon Shin-chan aired more than 20 years ago, the five-year-old boy Shinnosuke Nohara brings tools to clean up after his pet dog when he walks it. But today few Chinese adults can do so. What a shame!

What's underlying this issue is a lack of respect for others. Most dog owners deem any place outside their homes as irrelevant and have no consciousness of their obligations to make as little impact on others as possible. They just make everything easier for themselves and their dogs. So why bother to clean up after the dog or tether it?

Many foreign countries such as the US and Britain have enacted regulations to keep the environment clean. But what's more important is instilling in citizens the initiative to care for others. Beijing's regulations enacted in 2009 demand dog owners who don't chain their dogs or clean up the dog poo in public places be fined 50 yuan ($7.56), but no one seems to care about such a light penalty.

Chinese people have been scoffed at worldwide for their uncivilized ways of travelling, jaywalking and dining habits, just to name a few. Let's not add another uncivilized act to the list.

After all, it doesn't take much effort to pick up after your dog or put them on a lead.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. sunxiaobo@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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