Abuse 'under control'
The government has ruled out the possibility of setting up an animal police squad. It says such a squad is not necessary as an existing task force can deal with the problem.
In a Legislative Council meeting last week, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said cases of cruelty to animals have been reported throughout the city.
Chow said it was important that officers responded fast to reports of animal abuse, but added that there were already mechanisms in place.
Chow noted that following the recent spate of reported animal cruelty incidents, the government had set up a taskforce with the help of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
When a case of reported animal abuse is deemed serious, local police will allocate resources to track down culprits and tackle the problem.
Chow said the current arrangement ensured a flexible system of manpower and resources, and so there was no need to set up a special animal squad.
In 2006, the punishment for animal cruelty was raised from a maximum HK$5,000 fine and six months' imprisonment to HK$200,000 and three years' imprisonment.
Chow said the hefty fine provided a strong deterrent. He supported that point by saying police had received fewer reports about animal cruelty over the past few years.
According to police, animal cruelty cases dropped from 190 in 2007 to 153 last year.
Lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming said a good way to put an end to animal cruelty was to curb the number of stray dogs and cats on the street. Stray animals were especially prone to abuse, he said.
Chow said the number of stray animals decreased from 13,900 in 2007 to 10,426 last year.
In March, a cat was found dead after being stabbed with a bamboo skewer. In a separate incident, a young kitten was found shot eight times by an air gun.