A city government proposal to end a ban on dogs taller than 35 cm has triggered a huge public response from those who prefer something a little larger.
The proposal, published on the official website of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, argues it is unscientific to define dangerous dogs by size alone and suggests a revision of the current regulation.
It has received the largest amount of feedback from the public among all 1,295 proposals. Around 15,000 people expressed their opinions on the topic, 13,000 more than the second most popular proposal, which regards the location of a subway station. Under the current regulation, the public cannot raise dogs that grow taller than 35 cm, in densely populated areas in Beijing. Residents with larger size dogs, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, either have to live in remote areas or run the risk of getting caught.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been calling for a change on the ban since 2003. He Yong, special assistant to the Asia regional director of IFAW, said the regulation is unscientific and the ban is impractical.
"You cannot determine whether a dog is dangerous or not simply by checking its size or breed. It should be decided by professionals who specialize in dog behavior," he told METRO on Sunday, adding the key is to form a mature system that deals with dog owners, not dogs.
Many owners see this proposal as an opportunity to release their beloved friends from the strict regulation, which began in 1994. An article named "save your dogs from the 35 cm ban" was published on June 30 on one of the most popular social networking systems in China, calling for people to back the proposal.
The article, posted on Kaixin001.com, has been shared by around 12,000 netizens and received 11,891 responses. Around 40 percent of respondents said they strongly supported the proposal.
Li Zixiao, a sales person from China Kennel Club, said many large dogs are better behaved than smaller dogs. "That's why larger dogs are more popular in Western countries," he said.
According to Li, though it is universally recognized that Labradors and Golden Retrievers are the best companion animals, they cannot be raised in downtown Beijing due to an "absurd regulation" - most of them grow as tall as 54cm. Statistics show that 900,755 dogs were registered at the end of June 2009.
Wei Haitao, the director of Beijing Institute of Zootechnics and Veterinary Science, which is in charge of making the dog control regulation, said they also want to change the ban but noted that most people do not have enough basic knowledge of dogs to make it possible.
"We raised the proposal before but we couldn't get it passed because non-dog owners are often scared by larger dogs, " he said.
Yu Fang, a Beijing resident, said she wouldn't go near a large dog.
"They might be well behaved most of the time, but accidents can happen and when they do, their owners won't be strong enough to control them," she said.