Activists accuse department of failing to prevent animal cruelty

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2007, 12:00am

Animal-welfare advocates yesterday accused the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of failing to prevent animal cruelty.

David Wong Kai-yan, of Animal Earth, claimed the department's bureaucracy had ultimately cost the lives of animals.

'The situation has worsened over the past six months and it worries us when animal abuses are constantly reported in newspapers,' he said.

Mr Wong cited the case this month of 16 Lantau buffaloes dying as they were transported by AFCD officials to Sheung Shui, and of injuries to several macaque monkeys at Kam Shan Country Park in March.

He also recalled the case of pigs being killed inhumanely at a government slaughterhouse in Sheung Shui in March. The report in a Chinese-language magazine caused international outrage and prompted 1,500 people to sign an online petition.

The activists also claimed abandoned dogs and cats were being ill-treated in government kennels.

Helena Chung Man-har, of Hong Kong Alley Cat Watch, said: 'The hygiene conditions for the abandoned animals are very poor. The floor is wet and the air is humid.

'My colleagues told me that one has to be psychologically prepared before going in,' she added.

According to Mr Wong, 11 animal welfare groups have been given permission to enter the government kennels to help re-home abandoned pets, but he wants the department to allow public access to animal shelters to improve transparency.

'The public should be allowed into the government kennels to choose which pets they want to adopt. This will force the department to improve the kennels' conditions,' he said.

An AFCD spokesman said there was a standard procedure for handling abandoned pets, and the government kennels were quarantined areas where no entry could be allowed without prior consent. The AFCD has repeatedly denied keeping animals in unsanitary conditions.

Rebecca Ngan Yee-ling, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hoped a broader coverage of animal rights would be part of a legislative review later this year.