Cases of animal cruelty are on the rise in Hong Kong.
The government has repeatedly claimed that laws on animal welfare have been constantly under review, but the truth is, the last time the administration put forward any major amendment to Cap. 169 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance was in 2006, under which violators could face the maximum penalty of HK$200,000 fine and three years’ imprisonment.
Unfortunately, cases of animal cruelty are happening over and over again even after the 2006 amendment was passed. This is an indication that our existing laws have failed to deter people from harming and torturing animals, be they family pets or strays.
In recent years there have been widespread calls for the government to establish the “animal police”, but they have largely fallen on deaf ears.
Of the 23 police districts in the city, only 13, such as Yuen Long and Mong Kok, have set up dedicated teams to deal with animal cruelty cases.
This begs the question: What happens if animal cruelty cases take place in police districts that don’t have such dedicated teams? Can police officers in those districts conduct investigation and press charges in a professional manner?
In fact, the issue of animal rights had not been discussed in the Legislative Council until last year, when I moved a motion urging law enforcement to set up the “animal police” and the government to formulate an “animal protection act”.
My motion was passed by a majority vote at the chamber, and now all we can do is wait for the government’s response.
Amid the ongoing public debate about my proposals, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor weighed in on the issue. On her official Facebook page last November, she expressed her willingness to spend time on the issue of animal rights.
I sincerely hope that our chief executive wasn’t just paying lip service to the issue of animal welfare, and would take prompt and solid action by setting up the “animal police” and reviewing the penalty for animal abuse under the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 12
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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