Musician's post reignites dog debate

Zhou Yunpeng, a famous blind singer-songwriter in China, couldn't stay in a Shanghai hotel with his guide dog.
Ti Gong

This file photo shows Zhou Yunpeng and his guide dog Xiongxiong. 

A Shanghai hotel’s refusal to allow a guide dog for the blind to stay has reignited concerns that disabled people continue to face needless hurdles in the service sector.

The owner of the guide dog is a renowned Chinese singer-songwriter, and the hotel is the Sheraton Shanghai Waigaoqiao.

Zhou Yunpeng, who was performing in Shanghai, posted an account online of his dog being refused entry on Monday.

“Rejecting guide dogs means rejecting disabled people,” Zhou wrote. “Xiongxiong, my guide dog, has been very tired in the past few days traveling around with me and deserves some respect.”

The hotel told Shanghai Daily that it doesn’t allow pets because they pose hygienic problems for guests.

It added that its management is, however, reviewing its rules with regard to guide dogs.

The hotel said Zhou didn’t show up at the hotel himself, but the organizer of the music festival where the artist was performing put forward a request for a guide dog to stay.

According to Shanghai’s dog-raising rules, dogs are not allowed in hotels or in other public venues or on public transport — unless they are guide dogs accompanying the blind.

The hotel said the rules are unclear about whether guide dogs are allowed to spend nights in hotels — “a very different concept” from a brief appearance in a hotel.

Gu Jianxin, an official from Shanghai Disabled Persons Federation, isn’t impressed with that reasoning. “Normally what else do people enter a hotel for if not to spend nights there?”

Gu said the federation’s legal and policy experts will review the case.

Shanghai Daily has discovered that some hotels in the city have friendly policies toward guide dogs, but others don’t.

Crowne Plaza Shanghai Pudong said all hotels in the InterContinental Hotels Group, to which it belongs, welcome guide dogs in rooms as well as other working dogs.

Pudong Shangri-La East Shanghai also said it allows guide dogs to stay but advises that such a request should be submitted before a guest checks in.

Zhou Yunpeng performs on the stage with his guide dog Xiongxiong beside him.

“We will make sure that a guide dog staying doesn’t affect other guests,” said an executive at the hotel.

A spokesman for a Home Inn in downtown Huangpu District, however, said: “Most of the Home Inn hotels don’t accept pets as room guests, including guide dogs for the blind.”

Zhang Zhenyu, a visually impaired Shanghai piano dealer, said he understands why some hotels ban guide dogs. “Guide dogs indeed are animals, even though they’re sometimes a helpful companion to the blind.”

He said the government, public service providers and the disabled together need to seek solutions as equal partners.

Accessibility to public services for the blind has improved in recent years, officials say.

In Shanghai, the Metro operator has since 2012 allowed guide dogs on its trains as long as they are wearing a coat indicating they are working and their owner has a certificate to prove they are registered guide dogs.

Nationwide, visually impaired rail passengers have been able to bring their guide dogs on board since May 2015, but such passengers are advised to make contact ahead of boarding that they will be bringing their guide dog and to ensure the dog is on a leash.

Since 2009, guide dogs for the blind have been allowed on planes to accompany their owners, who must bring proof of the dogs’ working identity as well as quarantine certificates.

There are 13 registered working guide dogs in Shanghai, according to the official website of the Shanghai Guide Dog Association.

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