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Weibo users welcome guide dogs into Beijing Metro

Chen Yan was accompanied by her gude dog Jenny in the metro of Nanjing in 2013. Photo: Weibo

Guide dogs will be allowed into the metro in Beijing from May 1, 2015, according to a new rail transit operation safety regulation released by the Standing Committee of Beijing People’s Congress on November 28, 2014.

According to the regulation, passengers with visual impairment can be accompanied by a guide dog carrying a registration card in the metro. In the meantime, guide dogs should be equipped with a protective saddle or wear a muzzle.

Over the past few years, there have been cases in which guide dogs were banned at metro stations of Beijing, which once triggered some debate.

According to a report in Beijing Morning Post last year, a guide dog of Chen Yan, China’s first female piano tuner, had been prevented from entering Beijing metro 11 times.

“I decided not to bring her to the subway any more”, Chen said, “The taxi drivers do not pick us up either, so we have to take an unlicensed taxi.”

A blind massage therapist was once held back too. “They don’t allow the pets to be taken into the metro, but Zi Long is a guide dog. It is a working dog. Only a few bus drivers let them get on the bus either”, the therapist said.

Lucky, the first guide dog in Beijing, once guided Ping Yali, the Paralympic champion, to pass the torch in 2008. “I can take Line 1 with Lucky, but it is not allowed on other lines”, Yang said, according to the Beijing Morning Post report. 

Beijing is not the first city in China to stipulate a regulation allowing guide dogs into the metro. While Shanghai released a regulation in 2014 to ensure a guide dog could enter the metro, Chengdu had done that in 2013 and Guangdong province in 2012.

On April 13, People’s Daily launched an online poll through its Weibo account on whether or not people would like to take the metro if guide dogs were allowed. While a few users disagreed, most comments showed people’s willingness to travel along with a guide dog.

When someone said “I do not agree. It’s too dangerous,” another refuted, “Dogs are better than human beings. They are loyal and can protect you. They are angels.”

In fact, there are strict requirements for selecting a guide dog, one of which is that there should be no biting record in the dog’s family for at least eight generations. The dog needs to have a docile personality and be one hundred percent obedient to its owner.

“I’m very happy to travel with these little angels! We should be more respective and tolerant to what these dogs are doing. While their minds are just like babies’, they can do what even the adults can hardly do. Please protect them!” one user commented. 

“Agree! It seems that our society has made some progress.”

Since the metro in Beijing is notorious for abnormal crowding and fearless passengers sparing no efforts to squeeze into the train, some Weibo users also showed concern about the guide dogs.

“I only care about whether they can squeeze themselves into the train,” said one post.

As many puppy lovers are inclined to touch and hug the dogs, someone also warned, “Don’t touch them while they are working. Only when they take off the saddles can you play with them.”

While most comments somehow seem to be emotional, @JuYems provided a rational and practical advice.

“Since I like dogs, it will be totally OK to travel along with a guide dog, but there are some people who are afraid of a dog. You cannot say that they are cold-blooded. While the needs of the passengers with visual impairment should be respected, other people’s interests should not be ignored. Maybe there should a carriage specially designated for passengers with a guide dog.”

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