In a happy ending to a sad story, a stolen dog named Qiaoqiao was returned back to her owner, a 47-year old named Tian Fengbo, earlier this week.
Last Monday, the theft of the black Labrador gave rise to a loud outcry in Beijing, as Qiaoqiao was not just an ordinary pet, but a guide dog for Tian. He had owned Qiaoqiao for six years, with her acting as a constant companion and living in a village on the outskirts of Beijing with him.
Much like many blind people in China, Tian works as a masseur and in fact owns a chain of parlors himself. Having left Qiaoqiao at one of the parlors overnight, one of his assistants was walking Qiaoqiao on Monday morning when men in a grey van turned up and stole her, CRI reports.
Tian said he barely ate or slept during the absence of his beloved companion.
I lost my sight in an accident and have been through many difficulties. But now that Qiaoqiao is gone, I feel like there is something very heavy blocking my chest. Qiaoqiao always accompanied me. She was like a friend to me. Now I feel like I’ve lost a close friend.
But nevertheless, Tian remained optimistic as footage of the van was given to the police, revealing the license plate to be from the neighboring Hebei province, although the number wasn’t entirely clear.
In the world’s most populous country, it seems surprising that Qiaoqiao is one of only 100 certified guide dogs in China, according to the official guide dog training center in Dalian. Despite China’s slow progress in improving the lives of its disabled citizens, disabled people still face discrimination in work and education. There are a few aids like textured paving strips for the visually impaired, but wheelchair ramps are scarce and guide dogs are often unwelcome in public places. Even though the government has enacted a law allowing guide dogs in public places, the enforcement of the law has been partial, at best, The New York Times reports.
So for Tian, the news of Qiaoqiao running back home with plastic bag on her neck and a piece of paper saying “Please forgive us” inside was a huge relief.
Weibo users were also quick to express their joy at the happy ending:
“Knowing what you did wrong and then changing it is still forgivable,” one user said.
“People are fundamentally good,” another said.
“Since the dog thieves can see Weibo, if you can see what’s being said, please don’t steal dogs again! You think this is like livestock, indifferent, but for us dog owners they’re a part of our family! Losing them hurts so much, like someone gouged out our hearts, please don’t steal again!” another netizen pleaded.
Faith in humanity restored.
By Kitty Lai
[Images via CRIEnglish]