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Dogs are the responsibility of their owners

By Xiao Lixin | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-03 08:04

Two dog attacks on children in less than a month were enough to spark a heated debate over the responsibilities of pet owners. On June 27, a Tibetan mastiff fatally attacked a 6-year-old girl in Dalian, Liaoning province. Yucheng in Shanxi province saw an attack by the same breed of dog on an 8-year-old girl on June 3, but the victim was fortunately saved by a villager, who managed to drive away the dog.

In fact, such attacks are not new. One month ago, a senior citizen in Zunyi, Guizhou province was attacked and eaten by two dogs that had been not fed for three days.

The series of attacks have also widened the divide between those who love dogs and those who don't. Tempers on both sides have risen so high that two dog owners beat up a doctor in Beijing for posting anti-dog messages on weibo.

Earlier this month, Beijing police issued a notice forbidding people in certain urban areas and some densely populated rural areas from keeping dogs above 35 cm in height and 41 breeds identified as violent in order to "maintain good public order and protect citizens' personal safety". The notice also says that individual dog owners violating the regulation will be fined 5,000 yuan ($815). The fine for organizations violating the regulation is 10,000 yuan.

The regulation has added fuel to the debate on urban dog management and thrown many Beijing residents who own large or any of the banned 41 breeds into panic.

While debating whether the new regulation is reasonable, netizens seem to agree that, compared with simply prohibiting local households from keeping large dogs, the authorities should find a better way to regulate dog owners' behaviors as responsible members of society.

Dog owners whose dogs attack others should not only pay compensation to the victims, but also be punished according to the law. In 2009 a dog owner surnamed Kang at a village in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, didn't feed his dogs for several days. As a result the dogs bit a young boy to death. Kang received a three-year sentence suspended for four years. That was the first time a dog owner in China was sentenced by a court.

However, because of lax law enforcement on dog owners whose dogs attack others, the authorities should strengthen law enforcement and take steps to raise their sense of social responsibility.

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