It’s estimated that there are around 1,700 blind and visually-impaired people in Hong Kong who could benefit from having a trained guide dog to enhance their mobility. And, thanks to the activities of two specialist charities, some 40 guide dogs are now teamed up with grateful owners, for whom they have changed their lives.
A significant number of people in Hong Kong unaccustomed to having guide dogs in shops, offices, on public transport and in public housing estates. Many well-meaning residents, workers and officials point to regulations that ban normal pets from all these places; they don’t appreciate the necessity of making an exception for guide dogs, and are largely unaware that guide dogs are exempt from bans on other animals, under the relevant Ordinance.
There are inconsistencies, too: most blind people use public transport, and bus drivers generally welcome guide dogs on board – despite the fact that, technically speaking, this is illegal. But such companies take a firmer view on guide puppies in training: they are generally barred from public services, but sometimes invited to take part in special trial rides for training purposes.