Officers get guide on animal abuse cases

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am

Internal guidelines on handling animal abuse cases had been issued for frontline police, commissioner Tang King-shing said yesterday.

They were the first achievement of an interdepartmental taskforce set up in November involving police, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Mr Tang said the working group was set up to review police investigation at the scene of animal abuse cases as well as to identify clearly the responsibilities of different departments in such cases.

The guidelines, issued on Wednesday, include the relevant ordinances and responsibilities of police in animal abuse cases. They also advise officers on how to deal with evidence at the crime scene and in what situations they should refer the case to a crime investigation team.

'We have noticed the criticism suggesting our officers are indifferent and not respecting animal lives,' Mr Tang said. 'The internal guidelines will cover the attitudes [of our officers].'

Mr Tang said 62 cases of animal abuse were investigated last year, an increase from 53 in 2006 and 29 in 2005. Twenty arrests were made in connection with the cases last year.

SPCA public relations manager Rebecca Ngan Yee-ling said her group welcomed the guidelines.

She said the society had always offered assistance to police in animal abuse cases, including with gathering data and testing and treating injured animals.

'It certainly helps to have the guidelines written down so that all officers can know clearly the steps they should take under different circumstances,' she said.

Elaine Chan Ling-yi, of the Cat Society, urged the working group to make serious efforts to combat abuse of animals.

'We can see some police officers do not know how to deal with dead animal bodies, nor those which are injured,' she said. 'I hope the guidelines can provide them with appropriate assistance.'