Simply trying to protect people
I REFER to letters which appeared in the South China Morning Post, on December 30, and January 6, on the control of dogs in Hong Kong and wish to clarify the measures under consideration by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, as there appears to be some misunderstanding of the situation.
To provide for better control of dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs, the department has proposed new regulations under the Dogs and Cats Ordinance CAP 167. The proposal is to categorise dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs into three categories based on their potential threat to the public. The proposed regulations would specify control measures required to be implemented by owners of dogs in each category.
Category 1 will include 'fighting' breeds such as the Pit Bull Terrier. The department will form an expert panel to determine which breed of dog should be so categorised and it is expected that the number will be limited. The control measures for this category of dogs will include a ban on import or transit through Hong Kong. Dogs of these breeds already in Hong Kong will have to be neutered.
They must also be muzzled and on a lead in a public place and required to wear a collar that will distinguish them as a dangerous breed. The owner will have to hold a valid insurance cover to indemnify any damage caused by the dog.
Category 2 will include dogs that have in the past attacked and caused serious injury, such as fractures or wounds requiring suture, without provocation. The control measures proposed for this category would be similar to those in Category 1.
Category 3 will include potentially dangerous dogs which include Bull Terriers, Shepherds, Rotweillers, Dobermans, Mastiffs and their crosses. Whilst all breeds of dogs can and do bite, these dogs are more capable of inflicting serious injury. The controls applicable to dogs in this category are that they will be required to be muzzled and on a leash when in a public place.
In considering the proposed controls for aggressive and potentially dangerous dogs, the department has taken into account similar legislation and experience in other countries.
All the proposed measures under consideration are widely practised and proven to be effective in controlling and reducing aggressiveness in dogs. No doubt your readers are aware of recent incidents of serious dog bites in Hong Kong. It is not unreasonable that the public should be afforded some protection from these animals.
The department remains committed to ensure that dog owners are better educated as to their responsibilities in owning a dog. A series of publicity drives using the mass media and education pamphlets will be launched to achieve the purpose.
The department is hopeful that the above proposed measures will help to reduce the incidence of serious dog bites.
Dr K. K. LIU for Director of Agriculture and Fisheries