Abused, abandoned Hong Kong pets need loving homes: the people and government must act

  • Pet owners committed to taking care of an animal should adopt abandoned or rescued ones, not buy from stores
  • Legislation should also encourage people to adopt rescued animals
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 3:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 3:03pm

Many of us have pets or would love to own one, but how many are aware of the huge pet abandonment issue in Hong Kong (“Animal lovers hope to save 50 cats abandoned in industrial building”, December 4)?

Pets are not commodities. We have a duty to ensure that pets are not sold like designer shoes or a handbag: they are not objects and should not become a marker of wealth.

We have the obligation to educate our children that getting a pet like a puppy is easy, but taking care of it is hard work. They have to clean up after them, walk them twice a day, not to mention sacrifice social time. If their answer is still a solid yes, then adopt one instead of going to a pet store. Give abandoned and rescued pets a home.

Harbour rescue dog found dead after being ‘thrown from roof’

According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it collected or rescued 921 dogs and 1,226 cats in Hong Kong in 2017. Of these, 234 dogs and 586 cats were put down either because homes could not be found for them or they were too unwell.

In rural villages dogs breed rapidly, adding to the population of homeless dogs. The other source is pet mills. These exist not because breeders love animals or care about their welfare, but so they can earn a lot. A pure-bred puppy can fetch up to HK$20,000 in a city where shelters are full of abandoned and mistreated dogs.

Tighter animal welfare laws will clamp down on unscrupulous breeders

Indeed, there is legislation for all dog breeders to face inspections to make them more accountable for the animals in their care, and there is a penalty for people who abandon an animal without reasonable excuse. However, these have not helped to reduce instances of pet abandonment in the city. Does that mean the government should do more?

The government in the UK has enforced a new law to ban third-party sales of puppies and kittens, so whoever wants to adopt would have to deal directly with a licensed breeder or a re-homing centre, rather than pet stores.

Why are more Hongkongers going wild for exotic pets?

Also, some US states such as California and Maryland have signed bills for laws banning the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores. Pets can only be bought from rescue groups.

These jurisdictions, in enforcing laws on banning pet stores from selling puppies/kittens, are emphasising the concept of adopting homeless animals from shelters. The government in Hong Kong could take a lesson from this, starting with prohibiting pet stores from displaying puppies and kittens in store windows so as to reduce impulse buying.

Evelyn Cheng, Tai Hang