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LCQ19: Regulating the sources of animals for sale in pet shops

    Following is a question by the Hon Tsang Yok-sing and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (December 19):


     It has been reported that a survey conducted by a concern group on animal rights and interests revealed that one out of every three respondents had bought pet dogs suffering from diseases such as Canine Distemper or skin diseases, etc., and they had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to cure such dogs. The concern group criticised the Government for not making sufficient efforts to monitor the sources of animals in pet shops. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) currently there is legislation regulating the sources of animals (especially private animal breeding farms) for sale in pet shops; if there is, of the relevant legislation; if not, how it will step up the relevant monitoring work; and

(b) it has plans to step up its efforts to combat activities to smuggle cats and dogs into Hong Kong; if it has, of the details of such plans; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

(a) According to the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance (Cap139), any person who is engaged in commercial trading of animals (including the operation of pet shops or breeding grounds) must hold an animal trader licence issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and comply with the "Additional Conditions Attached to the Animal Trader Licence" stipulated under the Regulations. The additional conditions may vary depending on the types of animals concerned, but are generally based on the principles of protection of animal welfare and public health. The additional conditions attached to the licence mainly include:

* The licensee must take all possible measures to ensure that the animals for sale are healthy;

* If the animals concerned are dogs, all dogs for sale in the licensed premises must be implanted with a microchip by a registered veterinary surgeon. Details of every transaction must also be recorded in the format specified by AFCD; and

* All dogs and cats must be vaccinated against infectious diseases by a veterinary surgeon. Vaccinations must be supported by vaccination certificates issued by registered veterinary surgeons.

     AFCD conducts inspections on licensed animal traders on its own initiative from time to time or in response to public reports, with a view to ensuring animal traders' compliance with the licensing conditions that aim to safeguard the health of the animals for sale. Animal traders who are found to be in breach of the licensing conditions could be liable to a fine and suspension of licence. AFCD will also review from time to time the need to revise the additional licensing conditions, including for the purpose of regulating the sources of animals for sale by traders.

(b) Hong Kong has put in place quarantine restrictions on imported animals (including cats and dogs). A valid permit issued by AFCD must be obtained for importing animals into Hong Kong.

     For land boundary crossings, AFCD and the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) carry out frequent joint operations at various land boundary crossings to inspect inbound passengers and vehicles. Customs officers will stop and check suspicious passengers and goods, and use X-ray inspection system to scan for any illegally imported animals. When illegally imported animals are seized, they will be handed to AFCD for follow-up action. As for sea transport, AFCD will conduct inspections at various cargo handling areas and smuggling blackspots. Publicity and education campaigns targeted at the trade are conducted with a view to gathering intelligence and preventing smuggling. Moreover, we encourage the trade and the public to report smuggling cases. Over the past 11 months, AFCD intercepted a total of 48 cases of animal smuggling involving more than 3,000 animals and birds.

     To combat animal smuggling more effectively, AFCD will set up a quarantine dog team early next year. Relevant staff and quarantine dogs are under training and will be tasked to work at different control points, as part of our efforts to enhance interception of illegal import of animals and birds.

Ends/Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Issued at HKT 11:31


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