Animal welfare activists have set up a Facebook group account to urge authorities to allow homeowners to keep dogs in public housing estates. The group has over 10,000 members now.
Joan, a convenor of the group, told Next Magazine that she doesn’t think there is anything wrong with having dogs as pets in public housing estates.
Animals, especially dogs, give emotional support to humans. Their company is even more important for disabled and elderly people.
After Joan’s mother passed away several years ago, poodle Miumiu has become a constant companion of her father.
“I hope people can become more tolerant. They are just small animals. Having pets in the public housing is not a serious crime, it’s not murder,” Joan said.
Last Friday, a middle-aged woman surnamed Hui who lives in Shatin tried to commit suicide as she worried that the Housing Authority would take her dog away.
Hui is a volunteer of a group calling themselves the 18 Districts Animal Protection Commissioners.
According to her sister, Hui adopted a black poodle years ago. She calls her Momo.
For having a dog, she got marks deductions under the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement.
The scheme was introduced in 2003 to help keep a clean environment and good hygiene standards in public housing estates.
In order to keep her tenancy, Hui gave away Momo to her elder sister who lives in another estate where dogs are permitted.
However, Momo lost its appetite, and Hui’s sister had to send the dog back to Hui for better care.
Hui’s neighbor complained about Momo’s presence. A visit by Housing Authority officials led to Hui’s emotional breakdown. She tried to kill herself by slitting her wrist.
Dr. Fiona Woodhouse, deputy director (welfare) of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said she doesn’t expect the Housing Authority to change its regulations anytime soon.
However, the authority is really being too strict when executing the rules, she said.
She hopes future designs of public housing estates will be more suitable for dog raising.
“The authority should consider the issue case by case,” said Mark Mak Chi-ho, chairman of the Non-Profit Making Veterinary Services Society.
In Hui’s case, authority officials should show their understanding and sympathy for the woman, and not force her to give up her dog, Mak said.
“If pets are not doing anything that annoys the neighbors, why shouldn’t they be allowed to stay in the units?” he asked.
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