Is Hong Kong taking care of animal rights?
Charmain Li, Melody Cheung
Charmain Li, 17, Sha Tin College
The sight of pampered pooches being carried around by their owners is common in Hong Kong. Yet, how many of us care for the strays and hundreds of pets that are thrown out onto the streets every year?
Data released five years ago showed 1,000 strays were put down every month. About half of these strays were thought to have come from construction sites, where the animals were fed by workers, then abandoned when the work was completed.
Rights activists have also raised concerns about the treatment of animals used for breeding. According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many of them live in small cages. In addition, it is said that these animals are allowed out of their cages only to reproduce.
Amanda Whitfort, law professor at the University of Hong Kong, says the city's animal welfare laws were written based on British law from 1911. She says Hong Kong lags behind other developed societies in protecting animals from cruelty. Moreover, constant review of the legislation is necessary to enhance animal welfare, she adds.
Hong Kong also does not have laws that focus specifically on animal welfare. The law only protects animals from outright cruelty, but does not shield them from neglect and poor treatment.
However, there is no doubt that it is the pet owners and the public who have to be ultimately responsible for taking care of the animals. The government can only do so much - that is to educate people about the need to respect the rights of animals.
Melody Cheung, 16, St Paul's Secondary School
The media has been running a lot of reports on animal cruelty, ranging from hitting cats with metal rods to firing 'bullets' at them using air guns. This has aroused awareness of animal rights.
I believe there is adequate animal rights protection in Hong Kong, as seen in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance and the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance.
People who are cruel to animals can be sued and be recognised as criminals. The law can thus safeguard the rights of animals and deter people from ill-treating them.
Moreover, some Hongkongers observe World Meatless Day and Animal Rights Day on November 25 annually. This activity encourages people to have more vegetarian meals rather than meat. Hong Kong's participation shows its concerns about animal rights.
Despite the many incidents of horrific animal abuse, a majority of the public is against such attacks and condemns the offenders.
There are also many animal welfare organisations, such as Save HK's Cats and Dogs, which try hard to protect animals and raise concern about them in society.
For instance, many of these organisations demand legislation to control pet shops, where the space set aside for animals is too small.
I think the main problem in Hong Kong is a lack of education about animal rights. Residents should be educated more on the proper treatment of pets and stray animals. Hence, a more humane society can be established.