Inspectors back to school to tackle animal cruelty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 January, 2007, 12:00am

SPCA inspectors will receive training in how to deal effectively with cruelty cases as part of a government scheme aimed at stopping violence towards animals.

The scheme was launched after the Legislative Council approved an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance last month, raising the maximum fine to HK$200,000 and imprisonment to three years.

Training will include basic skills in collecting and processing evidence and knowledge in anti-animal cruelty law.

Chief inspector Bobby Wong Pui-tak, at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, expected the training to equip frontline staff with better knowledge in handling people's complaints.

'We have seen many people who have lodged a complaint fail to tell specifically when and where the cases occurred, which makes it difficult for the police or the authorities to conduct further investigations,' Mr Wong said. 'The training will help them to be more professional in collecting all necessary information.'

The group, which receives about 60 complaints of suspected animal cruelty every month, has 15 inspectors, including Mr Wong. Training would be provided to other SPCA employees who are willing to voluntarily take the course.

Last year, the SPCA received 35,000 phone calls reporting animal cruelty. From them, the group issued 30 warnings and assisted the police to investigate 11 cases.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department senior veterinary officer Eric Tai Hing-fung hoped police would be better able to prosecute animal cruelty cases.

'I think, with all the effort we have made, the number of such cases will drop in the near future.'

The training programme is part of a joint campaign by the department and the SPCA to raise public awareness and features an exhibition in Mong Kok on January 20 and in Siu Sai Wan on February 11.