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Harbin ban on big dogs stirs up howls of protest

Harbin ban on big dogs stirs up howls of protest

Updated: 2012-04-19 07:38

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying in Harbin (China Daily)

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Police in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, said the city will properly resettle any large dogs it impounds once a ban on raising them takes effect on Nov 1.

Harbin ban on big dogs stirs up howls of protest

A dog wears a sign reading "Boycott Harbin dog ban policy" on a street in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Saturday in protest of Harbin's regulation prohibiting large dogs. Grace / for China Daily 

Under a new regulation, dogs taller than 50 cm, longer than 70 cm or on a list of 49 breeds considered "dangerous" will be banned from downtown Harbin.

The city adopted the policy to regulate the growing pet population. Under the new policy, households in Harbin may not have more than one dog, and residents are prohibited from raising "large and dangerous" dogs.

According to the regulation, local residents must resettle their large and dangerous dogs between April 1 and Oct 31. After that, police will remove any large dogs from the downtown area.

Reports online suggested that police would kill the animals after rounding them up.

"After Nov 1, we will establish a place where we can put the large dogs, but we will not kill any of them. We will call on organizations and people outside the city to adopt them," said Han Zhi, vice-director of Harbin public security bureau, at a Wednesday news conference.

Though the online rumor that the dogs would be killed was denied, many said they still found it difficult to accept that many docile dogs, including Labradors, Samoyeds and golden retrievers, were on the list.

"When the one-dog policy was published, I never thought that these breeds would be included," said Zhao Boshi, an owner of a 4-year-old golden retriever named Nike.

Zhao is a 29-year-old company employee who also volunteers with the Lantian rescue team. The team, set up in 2008, is a non-governmental organization that was founded by a group of rescue professionals.

"As a member of the team, I could join in rescue work in dangerous situations, and my Nike was also capable of helping. Now I am afraid that there won't be enough rescue power when disasters happen," Zhao told China Daily.

A report by Harbin Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that dogs bit 1,300 people during the first two months of this year. Fear of dogs, especially large ones, makes some of the non-dog owners support the regulation.

"Once, on a winter evening, when I was walking on the street with my little daughter, a large dog suddenly rushed out and ran at us. Even though it didn't bite us, we were really scared, and my daughter had a fever after we got home," said Zhang Feijin, a sales manager.

"Some of my friends have been bitten by dogs, and I'm sure they must be glad to know that a policy will be implemented that can protect people like us."

In the community where Zhao lives, there is a group of dog owners who often get together with their dogs. Wang Ying is the organizer of the group.

"These days we talk about our dogs every time we meet. In our group, more than half the dogs are large ones. We can't imagine abandoning our dogs.

"My husband and I have been married for six years and we have chosen the life of 'dinkies' (double income, no kids). There are some other young couples who have the same idea. The dogs are just like our babies," said Wang, the owner of a 2-year border collie. The border collie isn't on the list, but Wang now is worried about its size.

"My dog is just about 50 cm tall and 70 cm long. Now I'm not sure it will be allowed to live with me," she said, anxiously.

Wang runs a pet shop that sells pet products and provides a pet service. As the owner of a pet shop, she is concerned.

"There are about 60 big spenders in my shop, most of whom keep large dogs. And most of my goods are sold to the owners of large dogs. Since the regulation was announced, the daily volume has begun to reduce.

"I have to live on what I earn from the small shop, and I don't know if I can continue to keep the shop when there are no large dogs and fewer small ones downtown."

Zhao Yunpeng contributed to this story.