Fourteen groups have joined together to create a network of "animal protection commissioners" to report on animal abuse.
About 20 volunteers from the Alliance for Hong Kong Animal Police - formed by Animal Earth, the Animal-Friendly Alliance and the Non-Profit Making Veterinary Service among others - will pursue abuse cases spotted by the public or by fellow volunteers across the city.
Each district will have a commissioner, with more than one volunteer monitoring districts with a high record of incidents, such as Yau Tsim Mong. Although they have no legal power to prosecute abusers, the activists will try to help the animals by reporting the cases to the media, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the police.
"We want to bring more cases to the public's attention," alliance member Kevin Cheuk Chi-chiu said. "The SPCA and the police have a vague definition of animal abuse. Sometimes residents have found animals are victims of mistreatment, but their requests to file cases of cruelty were rejected by the police."
Several weeks ago, residents of a Lok Fu estate sought police help after noticing strong smells from an apartment where barking was heard. The police did not find any animals were being abused. When volunteers alerted the media, however, firefighters broke into the flat and rescued a dog, Cheuk said.
Anyone who witnesses an incident of animal cruelty can alert the alliance by sending messages to its Facebook group, which only has a Chinese-language version at the moment. People can also contact individual animal groups in the alliance.
Volunteers responsible for a particular district will then approach the complainants, visit the location and make reports. Case particulars would be recorded on a form.
"The forms would allow us to have a bigger picture of animal abuse, such as which district sees the most number of cases. We also want to track how the police and SPCA handle each case," Cheuk said.
People interested in becoming involved should get alliance training on what constitutes abuse and how to contact the media. The alliance eventually aims to have 100 commissioners.