The Alliance for Hong Kong Animal Police welcomed an announcement by Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung to expand police teams assigned to cases of animal cruelty.
The group, which has been calling on the police department to form a dedicated squad to handle cases involving abused animals, said in a press conference on Sunday that it is good to see that the police force is finally acting on the issue, which is getting more and more serious, but added that more action needs to be done.
The press conference, which was held along with a rally at the Civic Square, a popular venue of protests outside the government headquarters in Admiralty, came a day after Commissioner Lo said his department will expand its special teams investigating cases of animal cruelty, with each team comprising five to six police officers.
Currently, only 13 police districts have such a team, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. The expansion will increase the number to 22 police districts.
Between 110 and 132 officers will be assigned to the teams. They are all professional police officers who will undergo special training to handle cases of animal abuse, Lo stressed.
The alliance said its next move is to seek amendments to animal-related regulations with the goal of increasing penalties for violators.
Mark Mak Chi-ho, who is from the alliance and also executive chairman of the non-profit Veterinary Service Society, said the expansion reflects a regularized system, not just a stop-gap measure, to address the issue of animal cruelty in the city.
Mak said the alliance will continue to monitor the work of the police squads against perpetrators of animal cruelty.
He also urged the police department to set up a platform that will allow the public to monitor cases of animal abuse and the performance of the special teams in the districts.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, who joined the alliance’s press conference along with several of her colleagues, noted that under the Road Traffic Ordinance, a driver who has figured in a road accident where an animal is hurt is required to immediately stop the vehicle and report the case to the police.
However, the animals covered by the ordinance are limited to horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs and goats only, Mo said.
The authorities are expected to propose a revision of the ordinance by the end of the year to cover more animals, including cats and dogs, she said.
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