Leash your dogs, please!

Last Saturday a 13-year-old boy was attacked by an unlicensed and off-leash German shepherd in his neighborhood in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Last Saturday a 13-year-old boy was attacked by an unlicensed and off-leash German shepherd in his neighborhood in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Chengdu Economic Daily reported. The dog owner had to drag and hit the dog on its head so that the boy could be released. The boy was hospitalized with multiple bite wounds. According local police, the dog has been taken into custody, and the dog owner will be fined.

This is just one of the more recent of a spate of injuries inflicted by dogs across the country. It is generally believed that putting a dog on leash could effectively keep the dog under control. Yet, it is quite common to see young children being frightened out of their wits by dogs running at large.

I have had a couple of unpleasant encounters with such dogs.

One of my neighbors often let her dog roam the neighborhood. Even though I consider myself some sort of a dog-lover, it was still quite intimidating when a shepherd of my thigh’s height ran toward me.

I remember myself being completely taken aback and urging the owner to get hold of her dog. The owner, who wasn’t even carrying a leash, made a dash and grabbed her dog by its collar. She claimed, as she had done previously, “He’s friendly. He won’t bite.”

She couldn’t guarantee that. As a matter of fact, otherwise quite tame dogs could become aggressive and ferocious without warning.

Letting dogs off the leash is irresponsible, for both people around and the dogs themselves. It puts other people in potential danger of being chased, harassed or attacked. Failure to leash can also exposes dogs to risks.

Stringent measures are needed to educate dog owners to keep their dogs on leashes, and to punish those who don’t.

In this aspect, the practice in Jinan, Shandong Province, is worth emulating. According to a recent report in Beijing Youth Daily, an app was introduced for owners to register their pets online. If police encounter an off-leash dog, they can access its records and identify its owner simply by scanning the QR code on the dog’s tag. A scoring system is also in place. Dog owners would be deducted points and face fine up to 500 yuan (US$73), if they fail to clean after their dogs or their dogs are found unleashed, or accused of disturbing neighbors. If they lose all the 12 points, their dogs will be impounded, and they can only get them back after passing an exam on dog management regulations.

In the US, there are many state laws that require dangerous dogs to be on leashes and muzzled to protect public safety. If an owner or keeper permits a dog to run at large and the dog bites someone, the owner or keeper is not only subject to civil liability, but can also be fined and imprisoned.

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