Dog ban goes too far

By Gabrielle Pickard
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 12, 2011
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More than 12,000 people were bitten by dogs in the urban areas of Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, in 2010. According to an official from the local health department, between 2008 and 2010, 42 people died from a dog attack. In response to the horrifically high number of dog-related deaths and injuries, the local government issued a regulation that banned dogs from the city's urban area, and any dogs found roaming in the city would be put down. The regulation came into force on July 26.

The legislation sparked opposition and outrage among local dog owners, with many voicing their discontent online and complaining to local media. Several local authorities, including Jiangmen's health, public secretary and city management bureaus, issued a joint amendment to the regulation on August 3 in response to the complaints, just nine days after the ban had gone into effect. The amendment states that dogs are allowed to live with their owners in the urban area of Jiangmen, but they will still be banned from public areas.

A poster saying, "My dear owner, I love you! Stop killing innocent dogs."

The amendment to the controversial dog ban is interesting for two reasons. First, it is unusual in China for the government to be influenced by local media, the general public and online content. In this sense the modification to the law is a victory for many of the citizens of Jiangmen. Second, the regulation that, although now amended, still bans dogs from public urban areas, does not address the real problem of aggressive dogs – it should be the dog's owner who is in the government's firing line.

When a person owns a dog, they are responsible for its actions. When he takes the dog for a walk, he should keep it on a leash at all times, especially if it is prone to run off. If his dog tends to bite people, the owner should ensure it wears a muzzle in public. Dog owners found not adhering to these rules are acting irresponsibly and therefore should be penalized.

But most dog owners are responsible, and therefore banning all dogs from public urban areas is unfair to them. While the amendment shows progress in respecting public concerns, it does not address the crux of the problem – owners are not held liable for their dogs' actions. The Jiangmen government should enforce stricter penalties for dog owners who fail to register and keep their dogs on their property or on a leash.

In an area where dog-related attacks on humans are high, the community must not tolerate wandering dogs. It is therefore up to the government and law-enforcement agencies in the city of Jiangmen to introduce laws that affect the owners of wandering dogs, instead of essentially tarring all dog owners with the same brush.

A more reasonable solution would be to adopt laws similar to those in the Victoria, Australia's most densely populated state. All dogs must be registered annually and wear an ID tag when off their owner's property. But as the amended dog ban stands now, it is a symbol of progress in China – but a progress for the voice of the people rather than for dog owners.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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