LCQ14: Protection of animal rights and welfare
Regarding the measures for the protection of animal rights and animal welfare, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of exotic animals (i.e. animals other than dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs) imported by the pet trade in each of the past five years; among them, of the respective numbers of those which were (i) sold in local licensed pet shops, (ii) transhipped to the Mainland, and (iii) re-exported to other places;
(2) of the respective numbers of the top five species of birds, mammals and reptiles imported by the pet trade in each of the past five years (set out by species); among them, of the respective numbers of those which were (i) sold in local licensed pet shops, (ii) transhipped to the Mainland, and (iii) re-exported to other places;
(3) of the respective numbers of the top five exotic species of birds, mammals, reptiles listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) imported by the pet trade in each of the past five years (set out by species); among them, of the respective numbers of those which were (i) sold in local licensed pet shops, (ii) transhipped to the Mainland, and (iii) re-exported to other places;
(4) as there have been reports in recent years of exotic animals, e.g. Alligator Snapping Turtles, being abandoned and dumped in the parks in Hong Kong, of the criteria adopted by the authorities for determining whether the importation of a particular species of exotic animal as pets is to be permitted;
(5) of the measures put in place by the authorities under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586) to (i) regulate the possession of CITES-listed animals, (ii) identify those animals, (iii) regulate the holders of licences for the possession of those animals, and (iv) regulate the transfer of such licences;
(6) of (i) the mechanism currently adopted by the authorities for granting the possession licences of CITES-listed animals, and (ii) the number of such licences granted by the authorities in each of the past five years;
(7) given the potential adverse impacts of animal release activities on animal welfare and the ecological environment, whether the authorities have plans to (i) formulate relevant guidelines or (ii) follow the practice of Taiwan by introducing legislation to regulate the operation of such activities;
(8) whether it knows (i) the current number of animal shelters operating in Hong Kong and (ii) the average number and species of animals being kept in such shelters; of the number of animal shelters inspected by the authorities in each of the past five years;
(9) given the emergence in recent years of new businesses such as cafes, organic farms and mobile petting zoos which use animals for generating profits, whether the authorities have plans to (i) introduce legislation to provide for licensing requirements or (ii) issue clear guidelines for the operators concerned, in order to protect the welfare of the animals used by such businesses;
(10) given that some species of animals such as fish and amphibians are currently omitted from the definition of animals under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance (Cap. 139), whether the authorities have put in place measures to safeguard the welfare of such animals when being used by the trade; if so, of the details; if not, whether the authorities have plans to rectify the situation;
(11) given that in view of reports on dog-biting incidents having been received from time to time, the Housing Authority (HA) has included unauthorised animal-keeping (including dog) as one of the misdeeds for which points would be allotted under the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement it launched in public rental housing (PRH) estates in 2003, of the number of reports on dog-biting incidents in PRH estates received in each of the past 15 years by HA;
(12) given that 13 323 dogs have been registered under the Temporary Permission Rule (TPR) implemented by HA, which allows PRH tenants to continue to keep the small dogs that they had kept in PRH flats before August 1, 2003 until the death of such dogs, of the numbers of (i) complaints received by HA about nuisance caused by such dogs to PRH tenants or their owners breaking TPR, and (ii) temporary permissions withdrawn by HA as a result; and
(13) as HA claims that 54 per cent of the respondents to the Public Housing Recurrent Survey 2016 considered that enforcement of the Marking Scheme was effective in prohibiting unauthorised dog-keeping in PRH premises and an opinion survey conducted in 2016 revealed that 70 per cent PRH residents objected to relaxing the dog keeping policy, whether (i) the methodologies and a copy of the questionnaires used in, (ii) the full reports of, and (iii) the supporting documents for the two surveys can be provided?
Having consulted the Environment Bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau, my reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(1) Other than dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs, the total number of animals imported for the purpose of pet trading over the past five years is tabulated below. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) does not have statistics of these animals sold in local licensed pet shops, transhipped to the Mainland, and re-exported to other places.
|Year||Number of Animals Imported|
|2016||1 018 000|
(2) Over the past five years, the respective numbers of the top five species of birds, mammals and reptiles among all animals imported for the purpose of pet trading are set out in Annex I. AFCD does not have statistics of these animals sold in local licensed pet shops, transhipped to the Mainland, and re-exported to other places.
(3) to (6) First entered into force in 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty currently implemented by 183 parties. The aim of CITES is to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade. To implement the requirements under CITES, Hong Kong has enacted the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586) (the Ordinance). That said, CITES does not have extra provisions on the import and export of "pet animals". Hence we do not have relevant statistics on the amount of CITES species imported/exported as pets.
Possession of any species included in Appendix I or II of CITES is subject to the regulation under the Ordinance. A person possessing any live Appendix I animals or live Appendix II animals from wild source for commercial purposes shall have obtained a valid Licence to Possess (PL) issued by AFCD. For possession of live Appendix II animals not from the wild for commercial purposes, documentary evidence has to be produced to prove such animals are not of wild source. For possession of live animals included in any of the Appendices as personal pets, application for PLs is not necessary but production of evidence certifying their legal sources is required.
PLs are issued according to the keeping premises and are valid for five years in general. PLs are not transferable and shall only be valid for possession of the concerned species by the licensees and in the keeping premises specified in the licences. To apply for a PL, the applicant has to produce evidence certifying the legal source of the animal concerned, such as the CITES export permit issued by the relevant CITES management authority of the previous place of export. The number of PLs issued by AFCD in respect of live animals included in CITES Appendices in the past five years are as follows:
|Year||Number of PLs|
(7) to (8) Releasing animals improperly, including putting those into a habitat unsuitable for their survival, may affect their health and the ecosystem. AFCD has all along been working with the relevant animal welfare organisations (AWOs) in enhancing public education to raise the public's awareness of the potential adverse impacts on both the animals and the environment brought about by animal release activities, and to advise them to think carefully before participating in any such activities. We will continue to partner with AWOs in the promotion work on this front. At this stage, we have no plan to formulate guidelines on animal release activities, or regulate such activities by legislative means.
AFCD does not have relevant statistics on animal shelters.
(9) to (10) In Hong Kong, the following commercial activities involving animals can only be conducted under licence from AFCD and in compliance with the relevant legal requirements: animal trading and dog breeding, operating animal boarding establishment, letting out horses on hire for riding or using them to provide instruction in riding, exhibiting animals or birds, and keeping quarantine centre for animals. In addition, animal welfare is safeguarded through the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (Cap. 169) which combats animal cruelty. The Ordinance specifies that any person who cruelly beats, kicks, ill-treats, over-rides, over-drives, overloads, tortures, infuriates or terrifies any animal, or by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, causes any unnecessary suffering to any animal commits an offence.
(11) to (13) Dog keeping may affect environmental hygiene and create nuisance to tenants in densely populated public rental housing (PRH) estates. Therefore, dog keeping is prohibited in PRH estates except for (a) permitted dogs under the Temporary Permission Rule (TPR) (note 1) and (b) service dogs (note 2).
The number of dogs permitted under TPR has reduced from about 13 300 in 2003 to about 1 300 as at end September 2017. Regarding dog biting incidents in PRH estates, complaints about nuisance caused by dogs permitted to be kept, or dog keeping cases that breached the TPR, the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) does not maintain consolidated statistics. Also, HA does not classify dog record removals under the TPR arrangement by reasons of removals.
The Housing Department has been conducting the Public Housing Recurrent Survey (PHRS) annually since 1992 to collect statistics about the socio-economic characteristics of households living in HA's public housing, as well as their views on overall housing-related issues. Opinions of about 5 000 households were collected in the 2016 PHRS. The questionnaire about the issue of dog keeping and the result are at Annex II. HA will continue monitoring unauthorised dog keeping from time to time and enhancing publicity to maintain a quiet and clean living environment in PRH estates.
Note 1: The Subsidised Housing Committee of the HA endorsed the implementation of the one-off TPR in 2003, allowing tenants to continue keeping small dogs which were already kept in PRH units before August 1, 2003 until the dogs' natural death.
Note 2: Service dogs include guide dogs for visually impaired tenants and companion dogs for tenants who have strong special needs for mental support.
Ends/Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:45
Issued at HKT 17:45