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Heihe places dog ban plan on leash

The implementation of a controversial dog ban was delayed in Heihe City, Heilongjiang Province, local authorities said yesterday.

The regulation banning the animal from public places was scheduled to take effect yesterday but officials said they were amending it to make it "more standardized and humane."

According to the regulation issued earlier in the week, owners will be fined up to 200 yuan (US$30) if their dogs are found in "restricted areas" from Wednesday to Friday. From Saturday, dogs found in these areas will be put down, it said.

The "restricted areas" include the city proper of Heihe and four villages in the city's administrative area.

Liu Zhibin, a Heihe police officer, said the city government is soliciting people's opinion to improve the regulation. "We just want to use the regulation as a warning," he said. "We didn't kill a single dog."

Dog owners were relieved at the delay.

"The delay might be due to pressure from the public, like the media and reaction from citizens," said a 24-year-old lawyer who declined to be named. She has a pet Dalmatian.

She said dog owners should be responsible for vaccinating their pets, cleaning feces and avoiding some public places. She said fines were sufficient to punish violators.

Dogs have proven to be a nuisance in the city.

According to the city's center of disease control and prevention, nearly 1,000 people were bitten by dogs and received vaccination shots between January 2008 and May 2009.

Heihe's public security bureau, health bureau, the bureau of animal husbandry and veterinary and the city management bureau jointly worked out the regulation.

In a document given to Xinhua, the city defended the ban. "Heihe is a tourism city on the Sino-Russia border, but dogs on the streets tarnish its image. Dog excrement annoys tourists, especially those from Russia, while they also create problems such as noise, bacteria and disputes between neighbors," the document said.


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