PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2008, 12:00am

What do you think of the SPCA's proposal on children owning pets?

I write regarding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' suggestion that nobody under 16 years of age should buy or adopt a pet. At Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) the minimum age is 21.

Even at that age, young people can never really know what the next 15 years (the average lifespan of a dog) will hold. Adoption of a pet should be a family decision and a commitment for the lifetime of the pet. Animals should never be given as gifts.

As with all other animal welfare organisations, HKDR receives many calls every day from people wanting to give up their dogs. In almost every case they took on the dog without a thought for the future, but for short-term enjoyment.

Many of the dogs that end up at HKDR have been passed from home to home before being finally abandoned. We are told they have behavioural problems when in fact they are just dogs that are without security or structure in their lives.

Many have spent their entire lives locked in small cages, with absolutely no regard given to the torture this is for an intelligent animal.

Cruelty is much more than just beating a dog or starving it to death. Cruelty is also never taking a dog for a walk, wheeling it around in a doggie pram, and going out to work for 10 or more hours a day and leaving a dog on its own, muzzling it tightly to stop it barking.

Dogs are animals that have feelings and emotions. They are pack animals that cannot bear to be lonely. They, along with all other animals, deserve to be protected by law.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department says it is collecting opinions from animal welfare groups and experts for future amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance ('Don't let children under 16 own pets, SPCA proposes', January 17).

They have been collecting such evidence for 10 years or more, and meanwhile, every other so-called civilised country has been actually doing something instead of just 'looking into it'.

It's time Hong Kong woke up and dragged itself out of the dark ages with regards to animal welfare.

Sally Andersen, founder, Hong Kong Dog Rescue

Would you pay to see the Peak Tower's view?

My first Peak experience was as a visitor to the city in 1999. That night was clear and the view breathtaking.

I moved here in 2004, but I did not visit The Peak again until three months ago with a visiting friend.

That positive memory was totally destroyed. I was dismayed by the gaudy and expensive new shopping plaza up there and the view was certainly not world class (that's smog, not fog - there is a huge difference). You could see nothing but a haze of blurry lights.

Now the Sky Terrace management has imposed a HK$20 entrance fee for their little deck. Is this a pre-April Fool's joke? That statement about wanting to reinforce the message that The Peak is now a tourist destination takes the cake. The real meaning is: 'We hope you're stupid enough to pay us HK$20 for what used to be free!'

What's next, privatise The Peak's toilets, with an entrance fee of HK$5? Anything we can do to squeeze more money from not only tourists, but also locals. Since when has The Peak not been a tourist destination?

Let's see how long it takes before the viewing deck business takes a nosedive. One thing for sure, I will never take another guest up there.

James Warren, Tsz Wan Shan

The Peak Tower now charges visitors who want to make use of the observation deck to enjoy the splendid panoramic view of Hong Kong ('Tourists turned off by Peak fee', January 19).

The Peak Tower managers claimed that by doing so, they will be 'able to reinforce a message that visiting The Peak is a unique experience'. I think this is nonsense.

Although there are also many other vantage points on The Peak, the observation deck of the Peak Tower is specially designed for viewing purposes.

It should become the main vantage point in a loop of many others. Visitors should be able to move around a loop of vantage points and be able to see Hong Kong from various angles. This can then be a truly unique experience.

Obviously the charge is a commercial decision, but someone from the Tourism Board should explain to the Peak Tower about the adverse consequences it will bring about.

The claims that many other towers in other cities also charge their visitors is no excuse or basis for charging. Why follow a bad example?

A view should be free. Visitors to Hong Kong all have a reasonable expectation that they will be able to enjoy a splendid panoramic view across the city and the harbour.

H.C. Bee, Ho Man Tin

I think it's absurd that people have to pay to see the view, and I think it will hinder commerce up there.

I used to take visitors up all the escalators to see the magnificent view and many times they would stop to see what the stores were selling. Now, if we go to The Peak, we just see the view from the walk nearby and often don't even go into the Peak Tower at all.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me angry that a view that was once free now costs HK$20.

I know the Macau Tower charges, but the Peak Tower is just a rooftop, it's nothing like the Macau Tower, which has interesting things inside it.

Jennifer Wilson, The Peak

At what age is it okay to leave children home alone?

I think children should be left alone only if they have the ability to take care of themselves and I would say that generally a child who is 13 can be left alone.

For example, at that age they can probably prepare a basic meal for themselves if they are left alone.

Young people at the age of 13 are less dependent on their parents. Even when they are left alone, they will not be frightened easily. They can find things to do, such as watching television or playing computer games. They can always phone the parents if there is an emergency.

However, in spite of all this, parents should not leave their children home alone too often. They must recognise they have a responsibility to take care of their children.

Hedda Sze, Shun Lee