Reviving dormant dog ban on estates in Hong Kong is cruel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 9:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 10:49pm

A complaint by a resident in the estate where I live escalated to the point where dog owners had to remove their pets. She said that her mother-in-law was afraid of dogs.

A deed of mutual covenant may have a clause banning dogs that lies dormant for years. It is then suddenly resurrected on the whim of a handful of residents, because they dislike canines.

When this gets to court I believe that judges need to be allowed to take a broader view when passing judgment, because the consequences of their decision can be far-reaching.

What I experienced on my estate is quietly happening all over Hong Kong. One moment the dogs are living happily in good homes and the next a legal letter is sent out demanding their removal. Old age, severe health problems, nothing can commute their sentence.

Forcing families to part with their pet when dog keeping has previously been ignored by estate management should be considered an infringement of human and animal rights. This forced separation rarely makes the news because owners, after being made to feel like criminals, and resorting to fearfully hiding their pets, eventually remove them or find another flat, driven from their home by senseless hatred.

Perpetrators of an action to have dogs removed from an estate don’t normally use their own money to drag owners to court, they utilise community funds. Surrender in most cases is the only option for the owner because fighting for the right to keep an old dog is not financially viable. In estates where from the occupation permit onwards it has been made clear dogs are not to be kept, there is no excuse for keeping one. However, if such a rule has not been implemented, is it reasonable to suddenly allow it to be enforced? Does this not conflict with our ­

anti-cruelty laws?

Are those who blindly follow regulations without conscience and proceed to execute the removal of pet dogs no less cruel than people hauled before the courts accused of animal abuse?

Outdated regulations of the past should not be allowed to resurface once buried. That this is being carried out because of fear or dislike, and not from balanced reasoning, is shameful and no civilised society should allow it.

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin