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Dog owners responsible for pets

By Jiang Yabin (Global Times)

09:23, July 09, 2013

Illustration: Lu Ting/GT

Dogs are our man's best friend. Some people raise dogs to experience parenting before they have their own baby. Some empty nesters transfer their affection to dogs when their children fly the coop.

But just like having kids, raising a dog is a serious responsibility.

Last month a large dog attacked four people in Qingpu district before it was shot and killed by police.

The dog, which was as tall as a person's waist, was kept as a guard dog to prevent thefts at a factory.

It broke the chain that restrained it and injured a worker and a guard at the factory before dashing to the dormitory building of another factory and biting a woman on the hand and breast. It then attacked a bystander when it was driven away.

Recent months have witnessed a series of cases in which dogs injured or even killed people. A particularly shocking case occurred in Zunyi, Guizhou Province on May 27. A 61-year-old man was mauled to death by two fierce Dogo Argentinos. The dogs, who had reportedly not been fed for a few days, tore off and ate the man's arm. Pictures of the bloody scene were posted online, which terrified Web users.

Similar tragedies continued in the following month. A 2-year-old girl was bitten by her family's dog on June 26, leaving the infant with a broken trachea, though she did survive.

A 3-year-old girl in Dalian was not as lucky. She died after a Tibetan Mastiff bit her on the neck on June 27.

In Shanghai, 73,835 people reported being bitten by dogs in 2004, a figure which almost doubled in 2008 to 135,844, according to a report in the Shanghai Youth Daily.

Dogs, though domesticated, are still animals. Therefore, the most effective way of preventing dogs from attacking people is to implement detailed rules regulating how owners keep their pets.

In most of the aforementioned cases, the dogs were large breeds specifically bred for their ferocity. Although Shanghai has a regulation that bans residents from keeping fierce dogs, it does not specify which breeds of dogs are prohibited.

The regulation should impose a ban on particular breeds, such as Tibetan Mastiffs and Dogos. Factories and companies that have guard dogs to prevent theft should apply to be allowed to keep such dogs. Dogs should also be restrained with strong leashes in public areas.

More importantly, the regulations need to be strictly enforced. The relevant authorities should conduct regular inspections and impose punishments on individuals who raise fierce, unlicensed dogs.

In the aforementioned case where a 3-year-old girl was bitten to death, the court is considering charging the dog owner with unpremeditated manslaughter. This will send a strong message to dog owners that they are responsible for their pet's behavior.

In a city as densely populated as Shanghai, even people become frustrated living in such limited space.

In urban areas, most dogs are locked in an apartment for most of the day and aren't given sufficient opportunities to run outside.

This is unfair on large dogs and can affect their temperament. Dogs are less likely to attack people if they are well-treated and well-trained. That responsibility lies with dog owners.

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