Let dog statistics be made available to public

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 July, 1999, 12:00am

Regarding the proposed Dangerous Dog Regulation, there is no doubt that restrictive measures should apply to fighting dogs and known dangerous dogs. The same, however, is not true for all large dogs.

L. D. Sims, on behalf of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department (letter, South China Morning Post, July 7), reports that the weight limit for large dogs was determined after a review of statistics of the breeds of dog responsible for dog bites in Hong Kong and states that the vast majority of serious bite wounds were caused by large dogs.

I would never suggest that the Government might try to present statistics selectively to support its argument, but to be fair to the public, these statistics should be published so that others may perform their own analysis. Would Dr Sims please, therefore, provide us with some further details? Overall, how many dog bites have occurred in Hong Kong over the past few years and how many of these were in indoor public places? How many successful prosecutions were brought during this period? What action was taken against a) the dogs and, b) the dog owners (the numbers involved as well as action taken/penalties imposed)? What breeds (in what proportion) were responsible for these bites? How many of these incidents involved dogs which were fully and properly licensed and what were their breeds? What determines if a dog bite results in a 'serious bite wound' and how many of the above incidents were so categorised? What breeds (in what proportion) were responsible for incidents resulting in 'serious bite wounds' and how many were caused by fully and properly licensed dogs? It would also be useful to have information regarding how many fully and properly licensed dogs there are in Hong Kong and have a breakdown by breed and, finally, to have the Government's 'best estimate' of the total number of dogs in Hong Kong (including strays, feral dogs and those which are not licensed).

Further analysis of these data will, I believe, enable us to reveal that the problem does not lie with large dogs and that the real issue has yet to be addressed, namely, that with respect to large dogs, existing legislation is sufficient and any problems are caused predominantly by lax enforcement by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department.