Prosecutions up for cruelty to animals
The number of people prosecuted for cruelty to animals increased from 30 in 2006 to 42 last year, government figures reveal.
All but two of the 42 prosecutions led to convictions. Among them, 26 cases resulted in fines and seven led to imprisonment.
In 2006, 28 of the 30 cases resulted in convictions. The defendants in three of the cases were imprisoned and those in 21 cases were fined.
The average term of imprisonment imposed in the past two years was about six weeks.
The figures were released in response to a query by legislator Choy So-yuk in the Legislative Council on the deterrent effects of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance. The ordinance was amended in 2006 to increase the maximum penalty to a fine of HK$200,000 and three years' imprisonment.
In a written reply to Ms Choy, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said the police, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had jointly reviewed the procedures for initial investigations at the scene of incidents and follow-up work.
Dr Chow said the current enforcement of the ordinance was considered generally satisfactory, but that the government would continue to monitor the implementation of the ordinance to see whether there was a need for a further review of penalties.
Rebecca Ngan Yee-ling, spokeswoman for the SPCA, said it had received more than 700 hotline reports on possible animal-abuse cases last year, compared with 600-odd calls in 2006.
But Ms Ngan said her group believed the increase in hotline reports was due to an increased awareness of animal rights rather than worsening treatment of pets.
She said about 200 cases reported to the society in 2006 were not substantiated by investigations, compared with 600 unsubstantiated cases last year.