Chinese are divided over new Hangzhou dog-raising rules

By Wang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/19 18:58:40

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

A civilized dog-raising campaign has been launched in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, between November 15 and the end of December. It includes a set of strict guidelines to crack down on pet dogs, Hangzhou Daily reported.

According to the new regulations, citizens in Hangzhou are only allowed to walk their pet dogs between 7 pm and 7 am during the campaign period. Also, dog walking is no longer permitted in public spaces, including parks, markets, public green areas, schools, public transportation areas and theaters.

According to Hangzhou media, dog owners face a 400-yuan ($57.61)fine if they are spotted walking dogs beyond the regulated hours. Likewise, walking dogs without leash could result in a 1,000-yuan fine. The punishment is even harsher for those caught with unregistered dogs, with penalties between 3,000 and 5,000 yuan; unregistered pet dogs will be immediately confiscated.

Notably, 33 breeds of canines are listed as illegal to own, including Tibetan Mastiffs, Bull Terriers and Doberman Pinschers, the Global Times reported on Sunday.

These new regulations have raised heated discussions online. Some netizens said it is good to regulate pet dogs. "Many dog owners don't use a leash and walk their dogs in populated areas, and this could scare many kids," one Weibo blogger commented.

But other netizens are criticizing the guidelines as too harsh and unreasonable. "The dog walking hours are limited to night. This means that my dog is not allowed to get any sunshine. This is very bad for a dog's health," another Weibo user said.

Some of my friends in Hangzhou who have pet dogs also oppose the new regulations. My friend Sarah, who has an unregistered French bulldog, is adversely affected by the new guidelines. "Since my dog is on the forbidden list, I can not get a legal identity for him. Also, I no longer dare bring him outside, as I worry that the chengguan [urban management officers] might take him," she cried to me on Sunday.

"For people that don't like dogs or don't raise dogs, they might like the new regulations, as the rules don't harm their interests. But for pet lovers like me, the regulations will cause much inconvenience and trouble. We are so helpless,"  Sarah said.

As a Zhejiang citizen myself, I am ambivalent about these new dog-raising guidelines. On the one hand, I feel sad that many dogs are not allowed to get outside during the daytime or walk freely in public spaces. Most pet dogs I encountered in Hangzhou are friendly and they like to play with humans.

But on the other hand, I understand why local authorities have launched such harsh measures. Statistics show that disputes involving pet dogs and cases of dogs hurting humans are in fact on the rise in Hangzhou.

Since the beginning of 2018, Hangzhou has dealt with 8,066 conflicts relating to pet dogs; among them, 399 cases were about uncivilized dog-raising practices, reported on November 8. Notably, a middle-aged woman in Hangzhou was savagely beaten by a dog owner after protecting her small child from an approaching dog, reported Sunday.

Likewise, an unleashed French bulldog jumped on a pregnant woman in Hangzhou on September 9, causing a fight between the dog's owner and the woman. In this regard, it is understandable that Hangzhou has to take serious measures to punish uncivilized dogs.

Otherwise, disputes involving dogs and cases of dogs hurting people will only continue to rise as more and more people in Hangzhou raise pet dogs. I am unsure if the new measures launched by Hangzhou will still be applied into use after the campaign. But one thing for sure is that the city's pet rules will never again be as lax as they used to be.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TWOCENTS

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