Details provided by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of its proposed 'no-kill' policy offer a radical approach to a problem largely ignored for too long.
The statistics are alarming: between 1,000 and 2,000 dogs are destroyed in Hong Kong each month by the SPCA and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
The euphemism 'put to sleep' is often the preferred description of what happens to this huge number of animals. The reality is considerably more unpleasant.
While the SPCA's blueprint for a more humane approach to the problem of dog and cat population control may seem extreme, in fact it offers a highly workable series of measures.
Of course, while the avowed intention is to adopt a 'no-kill' policy - and this phrase is certainly a headline-grabber - such an end is not truly achievable and this is admitted by the SPCA. Dogs and cats will still have to be destroyed. But the real point being stressed is that the way the cat and dog over-population problem is tackled at the moment is simply to destroy the surplus. Under the new proposals the approach to the problem would be reversed and over-population would be prevented from occurring in the first place.
The practice has proved to be highly effective elsewhere. Over the long term it can be successful here too. It is to be hoped that the Government decides to adopt the SPCA's responsible proposal. Ultimately, the issue is not only about the welfare and treatment of animals: the way we tackle such problems is also a litmus test of whether a society is as civilised as it would like to think that it is.