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A skeptical society remains blind to the benefits of guide dogs


17th September 2022

A skeptical society remains blind to the benefits of guide dogs

By Lu Feiran

The abduction of a seeing-eye dog valued at 200,000 yuan (US$28,890) has once again provoked online discussion about guide dogs for the blind in a society that remains skeptical of their benefits.

On September 4, a visually impaired shopkeeper in Anhui Province called police to report that his golden retriever guide dog Duosite, left untied by the door outside his shop, was taken by a man in his 50s. Surveillance video confirmed that the dog had followed the man onto his moped.

"He usually stayed put when I wasn't using him," the man surnamed Jiang told Beijing Youth Daily. "And he never engaged with strangers. I didn't know why he would follow the man that day."

After the news hit the headlines, lawyers said the dog may be worth 200,000 yuan, and the thief could face 15 years in jail. Two days later, a man took Duosite to the police station, and the dog was returned to Jiang.

Although guide dog Duosite was returned to her owner, her abduction continues to stir online debate.

The happy ending, however, didn't quell heated online discussion. Many netizens were astonished by the cost of guide dogs and wondered if their services merited such an expense. Some called it "fraud."

"The news reports said guide dogs are better than walking sticks, but they don't seem to be very economical or even widely used," Zhou Zhuocheng, an aquatic biologist, commented on the social platform Weibo. "A family would need to have at least one healthy member to take care of the dog, and the dogs are apparently in service for only six to eight years."

Another netizen with the screen name Yaodaxian went straight to the nub of the debate.

"What's the point of spending 200,000 yuan to train a guide dog if it is easily enticed away from its owner by a stranger?" he wrote.

Wang Jingyu, director of the China Guide Dog Training Center in Dalian, where Duosite was trained, told China News Weekly that the 200,000 yuan was the actual cost of several years of training, beginning when the dogs are puppies.

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