For its 85th anniversary, the charity hopes a three-pronged focus on abandonment, the pet trade and farming practices will reap benefits An animal charity is to focus more on reducing the number of abandoned animals, reforming farm techniques on the mainland and improving people's meat diet. Treating sick pets is only one of the many services provided by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which celebrates its 85th anniversary this year. With the rapid growth of the vet market, Steven Calpin, executive director of the SPCA, said the group had no intention of expanding its veterinary services. Instead, Mr Calpin said reducing the number of abandoned pets in the city had become a priority, and it had plans to work with the government and other animal welfare organisations to cut the number by 20 to 30 per cent within the next 10 years. 'Last year, there were 22,500 abandoned animals humanely destroyed in Hong Kong as a consequence of society's irresponsible behaviour,' Mr Calpin said. Apart from encouraging owners to desex their pets, he said his group would this year push for legislation on traceability of animals from pet shops. The change implies that every animal sold will be microchipped with information on the identity of the breeder, seller and owner. 'There are far too many animals available to the public. We have about 100 animals in two centres alone. Why do you need to go to pet shops?' said Mr Calpin. 'People always want to buy cute little puppies and pedigrees. But the problem is these animals are often not microchipped, have no traceability, and they are sick.' The SPCA also wants to expand its education campaign, which now focuses on kindergarten and primary levels, to the tertiary sector as well as mainland farmers. Part of the campaign's goal is to change food farming techniques. 'A number of diseases that are going around the world are directly related to farming techniques. We cannot stop people from eating meat, but they have to eat it responsibly.' He said that to reduce the cost of farming, some farmers used antibiotics and hormones to make their animals grow faster in a shorter period of time. 'A 16-week-old chicken is so fat that it cannot stand on its two feet,' he said. Aside from animal welfare, the use of drugs in raising livestock and poultry also posed risks to consumers' health. He hoped the city could learn from countries such as Denmark, where people demand only antibiotic-free meat. The SPCA plans to sponsor research on animal welfare on the mainland. It is also looking into the feasibility of opening a branch in Shenzhen, where the pet trade is thriving. 'We don't want to become an activist. We want to use the leverage in education. I'd rather be judged by what we do than what we say,' Mr Calpin said.