A city in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan is at the centre of controversy for banning its residents from walking their pet dogs on the street between 7am and 10pm every day.
Authorities in the city of Wenshan also ordered that all dogs in public places be put on a leash no longer than one metre and that only adults were allowed to exercise the animals, according to a notice posted on the municipal government’s website.
A Wenshan animal health inspector said the ban was meant to prevent dog attacks and the spread of rabies, Shanghai-based news site Thepaper.cn reported on Tuesday.
News site Pear Video quoted a Wenshan urban management official as saying the rules were introduced in response to residents’ complaints.
The official said the start time was chosen to avoid disturbing people out exercising or on their way to work.
“There are many people about [after 7am] and they will be inconvenienced by having dogs around them,” the unnamed official said. After 10pm, there would be almost no people on the street, she said.
Before the rules went into effect last week, the official’s department received several calls a day from residents complaining about being harassed or attacked by dogs on the street. But there had been no complaints since the order was issued, she said.
There were no penalties for breaking the rules; instead violators would be “educated” by the authorities.
The ban won support from some commenters online, who hoped it could be implemented in other parts of the country.
“One of my colleagues who was pregnant was traumatised when she was chased by a dog. It’s too dangerous,” one person wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform.
“I support it,” another wrote. “If pet owners really love their dogs, can’t get up early and go to bed late in the evening to walk them?”
But others said the policy did not take the needs of pet owners into account, saying they would have to get up very early and go to bed very late just to exercise their dogs outside.
“This order will make people feel exhausted. Why not simply ban people having dogs?” he wrote.
An internet user in Jilin province said it would be frightening to have to take her dog out for a walk late at night. “I’m lucky this is not happening in my city,” she wrote.
In China, pet owners must vaccinate their dogs and pay a licence fee that can be more than 2,000 yuan (US$290), depending on the size of the animal.
The licence must be renewed each year but most dog owners do not register their animals. Unregistered dogs are often culled.