Owners urged to make training a pet project
With as many as five cases of animal attacks on passers-by reported every day, there is concern that pet owners are not training animals well enough.
Speaking after an award presentation for a writing contest for pet owners yesterday, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department senior veterinary officer Dr Chow Ka-wai said it was frustrating to see more than 2,000 reports of animal attacks on the streets every year, where most of the animals involved had owners. 'Many of them are microchipped, which means they have owners. The dogs are allowed to run around in public areas unleashed or sometimes without the company of their owners,' Chow said.
'We find the figures pretty high ... more than 2,000 every year over the past few years without any sign of them dropping.
'Being a responsible owner means more than just taking good care of your pet for life. Owners should give their pets good training to control behaviour, otherwise they can create a nuisance or even a risk to the neighbourhood. Animals are like children - parents should always teach them how to behave in order to help the animal live in harmony with neighbours,' she said.
When animals attack people, they are quarantined by the department to ensure they are not carrying rabies or other diseases that could pose a threat to humans, she said. The department may also take legal action against owners if they can be identified from the animal's microchip.
Chow also noted that a number of pet owners abandoned their animals using excuses such as moving house or by claiming they were setting the animal free. 'Pet owners often simply leave their animals at the old place when they move house, claiming the animal would prefer to stay put. Of course, that's completely wrong - pets are tied to their owners, not to the location.
'We've found tortoises abandoned in ponds ... cats and dogs left in parks. The owners say they were just setting the animals free.'
To Grace Mok Yan-kuen, her nine-year-old domestic short-haired cat, Mimi, is one of her most precious things in life. Mok was first runner-up in a writing contest for her story about the fun Mimi had brought to her family. The contest was organised by My Pet magazine.
'I picked her up from a garbage collection point as a newborn - her eyes were still closed. We adopted another cat two years later to keep Mimi company, but Mimi's still our favourite. She waits by the door for us to come home every day. That is really sweet,' she said.