Chinese netizens called for a wider approval of guide dogs in public places on the 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), which fell on Tuesday.
The appeal has attracted hundreds of thousands of followers on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, and more than 30,000 people showed their support.
There are more than 17 million visually impaired people in China, according to Xinhua News Agency. But they usually face travel restrictions with their guide dogs.
Out of public concern for safety and hygiene of guide dogs, blind people are sometimes not allowed to bring their dogs to a hotel or on public transport.
“People don’t have to worry too much about guide dogs barking or even biting,” Li Qingzhong, chairman of the China Blind Persons’ Association, told the Global Times.
“The selection of the guide dog is very strict. Assessment includes its breed, shape, body condition, and even family bloodline. Meekness, friendliness, and great endurance are the most basic conditions,” Li said. “The record of guide dogs attacking people is extremely rare.”
China has the largest number of blind people in the world, and all sectors of society should pay more attention to barrier-free facilities in public and give blind people and guide dogs greater consideration, Li stressed.
About 50,000 visually impaired people apply for guide dogs every year in China. There are only a few guide dog training bases in China, and the total number of guide dogs in China is less than 200, according to Dalian-based newspaper Dalian Daily.
Li noted that China’s supply of guide dogs is inadequate, and travel restrictions on dogs could make things worse for the blind.
China officially released the national standard for guide dogs in May 2018, giving policy support for blind travelers. Many subways around the country allow guide dogs.
“We need to do more to educate the public about the safety of guide dogs,” Li said. “In fact, a guide dog with a guide saddle is very secure and reliable.”
Source: Global Times