Teens savaging animals: What has gone wrong with our values?

November 23, 2015 15:38
Big Ear is in critical condition after he was hit by an an arrow fired from a crossbow. This is another incidence of increasing animal cruelty in Hong Kong. Photo: Internet

Last Tuesday, a stray dog named Big Ear was seriously wounded by an arrow fired from a crossbow in Tsz Wan Shan.

Big Ear remains in critical condition after undergoing surgery thanks to a non-profit veterinary clinic.

Witnesses saw a raincoat-clad man aim a crossbow at the stray near Tse Ching Estate early in the morning of that day.

After the dog had been hit, the man immediately fled the scene.

However, the arrow has not been found and no arrest has been made. A 40-strong police task force sent to look for evidence came up empty-handed.

Some animal rights activists have drawn parallels to a similarly savage act exactly three years ago when a stray cat was kicked to death by a bunch of teenagers in a public housing estate in Kwun Tong.

In the end, two were convicted of animal cruelty and sentenced to 16 months in prison.

In 2006, Legco passed amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance and toughened the punishment for animal abuse to three years imprisonment and a HK$200,000 (US$25,800) fine from six months and HK$5,000, respectively.

But animal cruelty remains a problem.

Since 2006, 150 to 200 incidents of animal cruelty have been reported each year to law enforcement authorities.

To make matters worse, most of them take place with no eyewitnesses, making it difficult to prosecute offenders, let alone convict them.

Only 10 to 20 offenders on average are convicted each year, roughly one-tenth of the total. There could be countless other cases that go unreported.

Any decent individual, pet lover or not, will be sickened by these statistics.

These acts of cruelty are a violation of basic moral values and have no place in a civilized society.

To our dismay, not only does animal abuse remain rampant in Hong Kong, the degree of cruelty is also escalating.

People who commit such atrocities must be sick, whatever motivations they might have.

Each time this type of crime takes place, animal rights activists and ordinary citizens do their best to keep the issue in the public mind.

However, people may grieve a day or two and forget what happened until the next horrific incident.

Thoughts and prayers alone are not enough.

We could be the only advanced city in the world that allows these crimes to happen every few months.

Somehow, people get used to them and everything becomes routine, from media reporting to public response and prosecution, if ever.

There have been no long-term solutions.

Despite increased calls for an anti-animal abuse police unit, the government has remained lukewarm.

Police officials say their animal watch scheme, launched in 2011, is enough and effective in preventing animal cruelty.

In fact, it's not.

Instead of paying lip service to the anti-abuse measures, why can't our government look into the experience of Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands where these initiatives are part of the system

The fact that much of our own experience involves teenagers is alarming.

Has something gone wrong with our education and values?

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