Dangerous dogs to be muzzled and neutered

VICIOUS dogs will be neutered, muzzled, and fitted with conspicuous collars while their owners will have to take out third-party indemnity insurance, under laws proposed yesterday.

The legislation - aimed at protecting the public from 'dogs which are vicious and biters' - follows the mauling to death of eight-year-old Liu Wing-yan by a Great Dane in Sheung Shui in January.

Three serious dog attacks have been recorded since July.

Under the proposals, dogs will be classified according to potential danger.

Breeds which have been declared inherently dangerous by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, such as the pit bull terrier, will be banned from the territory.

'Any dog which has bitten someone would have these laws apply to it. This is to control dogs which present a potential problem,' said department director Dr Lawrence Lee Hay-yue.

He said the laws, to be put before the Legislative Council, were aimed at controlling the rapidly growing canine population.

A dog in the 'criminal' class must be muzzled, neutered and wear a conspicuous collar in public.

The owners will be forced to have third-party insurance, starting at $100,000. Owners who ignore these regulations could be hit with maximum fines of $50,000 or six months' imprisonment.

Some breeds such as German shepherds, Rottweilers and Great Danes would be penalised on size alone.

'If a dog is a dangerous breed, very large, or is a past biter all of these rules will apply,' Dr Lee said.

To keep tabs on lost or dangerous dogs the Government has spent $5 million to purchase a micro-chip scanning system. Dogs are injected under the skin with a hi-tech dog-tag micro-chip. The system will be launched next year.

Liu Wing-yan died after she was attacked in Wah Shan Tsuen by a 50-kilogram Great Dane as members of her family and villagers watched helplessly.

The Primary Three schoolgirl had been playing with her sister, Wing-ling, and two other girls outside the family's home when she went to pick up a badminton shuttlecock which had landed in a neighbour's compound.

The dog bit her neck and head as her uncle, Liu Ying-wah, tried to stop the attack by beating it with a metal pipe. The girl died soon after.

The dog was put down.

by lethal injection.