Dog walking banned in Beijing city parks

[Photo/China Daily]

Complaints about pets roaming freely and owners not cleaning up lead to rule

Beijing authorities have forbidden the walking of dogs in city parks in a recently published municipal regulation, sparking heated discussion from the public.

The Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau published a blacklist of uncivilized behaviors in public parks, adding activities such as walking pets, making loud noises, digging wild vegetables or fishing.

There have long been complaints that some dog owners don’t tie up their dogs in parks, putting visitors in danger. Owners’ refusal to not clean up their dog’s droppings have also annoyed many park patrons.

As a result, the bureau included walking dogs on their blacklist.

To ensure the effectiveness of the blacklist, the authority has posted the regulation in obvious positions in all parks, and around 1,000 volunteers will watch for violations.

Liu Jianhua, leader of the volunteer team, said they will try to persuade visitors who fail to obey the regulation to not do anything to harm the park environment.

The regulation has triggered discussion among the public, especially pet owners.

“I feel like I have become inferior to others since I started raising my dog because there are too many restrictions and limits for dog owners,” said Liu Zhe, who lives near Yuyuantan Park in Haidian district.

Liu, 30, said his residential community has also forbidden walking dogs in order to prevent them from biting people.

“I cannot walk my dog on roads, nor the residential areas,” he said. “I usually walked my dog in the park near my home. Sometimes, I run with it, which makes me feel good. Now, I cannot take it to the park. I don’t know where I can be with my dog except at home.”

In developed countries such as the United States and many in Europe, dogs play with people in parks, on roads and pretty much everywhere, Liu said.

“I envy them so much,” he said. “Dogs are real friends there.”

However, not all residential communities forbid walking dogs. Many communities in Beijing have set up facilities for dog owners to put their dog droppings.

Li Wen, a 22-year-old white-collar worker, said it’s a bit too strict to ban all dogs from parks.

“There are many different types of dogs,” Li said. “Some big, dangerous dogs should not be taken into the parks because there are many kids and old people in the parks. However, some dogs are not aggressive at all.”

Despite the opposition, there are voices that support the regulation.

Du Meilian, 63, who has retired and now is taking care of her 2-year-old grandson in Beijing, said that while she thinks there doesn’t need to be a full ban on dogs, the dog owners’ behavior should be more regulated to avoid danger.

“I always keep a distance from dogs when I am with my grandson,” she said. “It’s understandable that the government wants the parks to be safe for every visitor.”