Study Buddy (Explorer): Hong Kong people must stop buying purebred dogs and cats because of animal cruelty in breeding

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  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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More than 130 purebred kittens and puppies, all expensive breeds were smuggled from mainland China. Photo: Handout

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] May was a distressing month for pet lovers in Hong Kong. More than 130 kittens and puppies were confiscated in the city’s largest seizure of smuggled pets. The traumatised animals were crammed inside 17 plastic crates on a speed boat that was intercepted in Tuen Mun. One crate contained 16 cats.

[2] The haul of young and pedigree breeds was estimated to be worth more than HK$1.4 million. According to Senior Inspector Tang Sau-yin, of Hong Kong customs’ marine enforcement group, the animals were either bought online by private buyers before being smuggled into Hong Kong from mainland China, or they were bound for the city’s pet shops.

[3] Animal-rights activists were up in arms. “I’ve been told that someone paid 60,000 yuan [HK$79,373] for one of the cats,” said Sally Andersen, founder of Hong Kong Dog Rescue. “The best thing about this case is that these people will lose their money. The animals, some of which are sick, will ... have to go through four months of quarantine. The puppies will grow up knowing nothing in terms of training, just like all the breeder dogs we take in from time to time.”

[4] A few days earlier, another shocking case had made the rounds on social media. About 30 dogs, mostly huskies, which were kept in crowded and unsanitary conditions, were rescued from the rooftop of a breeder in Tsuen Wan. “This case is shocking, but let’s not forget these dogs are the lucky ones,” Anderson said. “As long as the demand for buying purebred puppies exists, this cruel business will continue to operate, and dogs will suffer every day behind closed doors. Boycotting the breeding business is the only way to go.”

[5] “Boycott the bad breeder” is a message that the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has long pushed in Hong Kong. But how can someone who claims to be an animal-lover buy from a breeder knowing their pet might have started its life in a crammed smuggling cage, or an illegal puppy or kitten mill?

[6] There are believed to be hundreds of these mills operating in the city. In these pet prisons, animals are confined to tiny, filthy wire cages with minimal food and water to keep costs low. To stop breeding dogs from barking, some undergo cruel debarking surgery while others have corrosive fluid poured down their throats. “Adopt don’t shop” is a message that makes sense, especially since people can go to shelters in Hong Kong that have rescued and rehomed thousands of stray and abandoned cats and dogs.

Source: South China Morning Post, May 25


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. Find a word in paragraph 1 that describes “people, animals, plants or things that were taken into or out of a country illegally and secretly”.

2. How had the animals mentioned in paragraph 1 been kept when they were found?

3. Read paragraphs 2 and 3, and decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given. (4 marks)
(i) Some of the animals were supposed to be delivered to pet shops.
(ii) All of the rescued puppies were of the same breed.
(iii) Private buyers who bought the animals will get a refund.
(iv) A number of the animals were not in good health when they were found.

4. What does the “shocking case” in paragraph 4 refer to?

5. What does Anderson imply when she says “let’s not forget these dogs are the lucky ones”?

6. According to Anderson, what drives the dog breeding business?

7. Which word can replace “illegal” in paragraph 5?
A. violated
B. unlicensed
C. wrongful
D. disapproving

8. What can we infer about the pet breeders mentioned in the article?
A. They do not train the animals they breed.
B. They follow cruel means to stop breeding dogs from barking.
C. They keep animals in dirty places.
D. all of the above

9. Which of the following is unlikely to be suggested by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?
A. Do not insist on buying purebred cats and dogs.
B. Encourage others to not get pets from mills.
C. Let animal shelters in Hong Kong breed pets.
D. Adopt pets from animal shelters in Hong Kong.

In 2013, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals launched a “Boycott the Bad Breeder” campaign to urge the government to regulate the pet-breeding industry. Photo: Courtesy of SPCA


1. smuggled

2. They were crammed inside plastic crates.

3. (i) T; (ii) NG; (iii) F; (iv) T

4. About 30 dogs were being kept in crowded and unsanitary conditions in Tsuen Wan.

5. She implies there are many other dogs who are in similar situations but have not been rescued. (accept other similar answers)

6. demand for buying purebred puppies

7. B

8. D

9. C

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