Hong Kong's growing awareness of animal rights protection has been marred by two distressing incidents. Early this month, eight cattle were killed in what is believed to be a hit-and-run traffic accident on Lantau. One of the animals was only two weeks old and was so badly injured that it had to be put down. Separately, seven puppies were found dead when police raided an indoor kennel in a Sham Shui Po tenement block early this week. Six of the bodies were stored in a refrigerator, and some of the 30 puppies rescued from the 200-square foot flat appeared to be sick.
While the two cases are not related, they are sad reminders of the city's inadequacies in the protection of animal rights and welfare.
A traffic accident that leaves eight animals dead is bad enough. It is even worse when it was apparently a case of hit-and-run in the early hours. Exactly how eight cattle were run over is still the subject of the investigation. A woman was arrested and released on bail after animal hair and blood stains were found on her damaged SUV.
The victims were not human beings. But just because they were animals does not mean the crime should not be taken seriously. Images of their bodies lying on the road were so poignant that even non-animal-lovers would be saddened by such a tragic scene. The increase in the reward to HK$150,000 to catch the culprit shows animal protection is being taken seriously in the community.
It is not the first time that dogs and cats have been kept in cramped and unhealthy conditions for trading. A growing demand for trendy, rare and expensive breeds is said to have fuelled cross-border smuggling, with many animals falling sick and kept alive by drugs before selling.
There is no room for animal cruelty in a civilised society. As long as animals are acquired and discarded like fashionable items, they are liable to abuse. Better education, promotion and enforcement are needed to improve the situation.