The discovery of six dead cats on the roofs of two tenement buildings in Tsuen Wan has prompted warnings from concern groups that animal abuse is more widespread than many believe - and that perpetrators could go on to hurt humans.
Police believe the feral cats, found yesterday in Chung On Street, may have been poisoned. Officers took away shreds of meat found near the corpses for further examination.
Police were called to a building on Chung On Street in the morning by a resident who found two dead adult cats and two kittens on the rooftop. There were no marks on the body to suggest how they died, but officers collected evidence from the scene and called in the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help.
Two cats were found dead on the roof of an adjacent building in the afternoon. Nothing was found to suggest a cause of death.
A string of notorious dog poisoning cases have left pet owners in fear, most recently on Lamma Island, where residents say the deaths of more than 100 dogs have gone unpunished in the last decade. In Mid-Levels, the so-called Bowen Road dog poisoner has killed more than 200 pets with poisoned meat, but no one has ever been arrested.
Such cruelty is more common than most think, said Carmen Chan Wai-man, executive officer of animal rights group Happy Animals. Frontline police officers should be given more training in how to handle animal abuse, Chan said, while in the long run an animal police unit should be set up to bring abusers to justice.
"It would also help if animal abusers were given longer sentences, which would send a message to society that we would not tolerate violence against animals," she said. Cruelty to animals carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to HK$200,000.
Studies have also shown that many serial killers start out by torturing animals before they turn to humans for targets, Chan said, adding that bringing animal abusers to justice could also remove potential danger to society.