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Guide dogs to be allowed on Beijing subway

Helper dogs get a helping hand

A guide dog Shutterstock
Guide dogs for the blind will be allowed to ride on the Beijing subway from May 1, the service has announced.

The recent revision of the Beijing Subway Safety Rules will allows helper dogs to assist their blind owners on the subway for the first time ever, a major step forward in China, where guide dogs are currently rarely used and are therefore often shut out of venues that don't allow ordinary mutts.

The issue of guide dogs being shut out of the subway recently came to public attention after a blind Beijinger, Chen Yan, was prevented from entering her nearest stop, Tiantongyuan on line 5, twelve times because she was with her guide dog Jenny.

Chen finally stopped trying altogether after the subway staff made Jenny cry.

'Jenny also has emotions and doesn't want to be rejected,' Chen told reporters, '... we'll wait until May [to take the subway].'

There are around 30,000 to 40,000 guide dogs working to help the blind around the world, the vast majority, more than 10,000, in America. In China, however, there are less than 100.

Beijing currently only has ten authorised guide dogs.

All guide dogs in China are trained by Dalian Guide Dog Training Centre, the only officially authorised guide dog training centre in China.

Blind people can apply for a free guide dog from the centre and then spend at least 21 days training with the dog to make sure they are well to suited to one other.

Training a guide dog costs 120,000 to 150,000RMB in China. Puppies that are suitable to work as guide dogs are sent to volunteers’ home for 12 to 14 months to get familiar with daily life with people. Later, the puppies return to the training centre to get six months of training before spending around another month with a blind person.

A qualified guide dog will work for the blind for 8 to 10 years.

For all that hard work, we should all be proud to take the subway with guide dogs. Spare a corner, if you see one on your travels around Beijing.
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