Animals in Hong Kong are still getting a raw deal, thanks to outdated views and laws

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 9:26pm

Bought and sold and given the moniker “it” without a second thought, pets are treated as a commodity. However, after the recent furore over the rights of Naruto the (“grinning, selfie-taking”) monkey being entitled to be regarded as a person (“Monkey is ‘person of the year’ ”, December 7), perhaps we need to rethink how we relate to our fellow creatures.

The Swedish investigation confirming dogs to be “man’s best health booster” (“Dog, man’s best health booster, study finds”, November 21) helps support the University of Hong Kong’s initiative in introducing Jasper the therapy dog to comfort stressed-out students (“Therapy dog helps ease campus stress for students”, December 9). Hopefully, it will also benefit those who are fearful or nervous about being in contact with one.

There need to be more positive efforts like this to promote engagement between the non-pet-owning public and companion animals.

Many people in Hong Kong fear dogs, and as a result the mental and physical benefits of ownership go unappreciated. “No Dogs Allowed” signs posted almost everywhere prevent the opportunity for interaction, helping to cultivate this fear. Buildings which ban companion animals are not benefiting society but depriving residents of the freedom to choose.

Last month, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor gave her backing to amending some “backward” and “out of touch” Legislative Council rules. Unreasonable restrictive clauses preventing dog ownership in ancient deeds of mutual covenant should be given the same treatment.

Your correspondent Joseph Solomon Leung (“Wholesale ban on dogs in flats in unacceptable”, November 27)) put it in a nutshell with his interpretation of what a deed of mutual covenant should truly represent, “that every owner in the building feels they are being treated fairly”. It is blatantly prejudiced and unfair that residents who dislike dogs are being given priority over those who wish to have one.

As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has so rightly pointed out, sentient beings should be regarded as “someone not something”, and our animal protection laws must change to reflect this.

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin