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LCQ16: Sale of animals

     Following is a question by the Hon James To and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (June 23):


     Recently, I have received quite a number of complaints about the illegal sale of pets on the Internet.  Under the existing legislation, persons selling pets on the Internet shall be subject to the regulation of the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations (Cap. 139, sub. leg. B).  Moreover, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has implemented additional conditions for Animal Trader Licence (ATL) since February this year, stipulating that pet shops may only obtain dogs for sale from the approved sources.  AFCD has also indicated that it will step up inspection of licensed pet shops to check the compliance of pet shops and breeders with such conditions.  Animal traders who are found to be in breach of the licensing conditions are liable to a fine or suspension of their licences.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of complaints received by the authorities about illegal sale of pets on the Internet in the first half of this year and, among them, the number in which prosecutions were instituted;

(b) during the six months prior to the implementation of the additional conditions for ATL and since their implementation:

(i) of the respective numbers of inspections of licensed pet shops conducted by AFCD each month;

(ii) whether any animal traders have breached the licensing conditions; and

(iii) of the number of animal traders being prosecuted and, among them, the respective numbers of those who have been fined and whose licences have been suspended; and

(c) whether it has reviewed the effectiveness of the implementation of the aforesaid additional conditions; if so, of the details; whether it will consider extending the application of such additional conditions to other kinds of pets as soon as possible; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations (Cap. 139B), any person who sells, or offers to sell, animals has to obtain an Animal Trader Licence (ATL), unless that animal is kept by him as a pet or any offspring thereof.

     To protect public health and animal welfare, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), after consulting the Legislative Council Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene (the Panel), introduced additional ATL conditions on February 1, 2010 with a view to tightening control on the sources of dogs offered for sale.  The additional conditions stipulate that pet shops can only sell dogs from approved sources, namely, legal importation into Hong Kong, breeding by licensed dog breeders, other licensed pet shops and bona fide private dog owners.

     The reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) In the first half of 2010, the AFCD has received 11 complaints against suspected illegal sale of pets on the Internet and in-depth investigation has been conducted into each case.  As there is no evidence to suggest that commercial activities have been involved, no prosecution has been initiated.  

(b) Since the additional ATL conditions came into effect, the AFCD has been closely monitoring the implementation of the source registration system, and maintains in general the monthly inspection of every licensed pet shop.  The AFCD will review the frequency of inspection from time to time having regard to practical needs, such as the number of pet shops, as well as the public's and pet shop owners' understanding of the new measures, etc.

     Since the implementation of the additional ATL conditions, there have been two suspected breaches of the licensing conditions of pet shops. Prosecutions are in progress.

(c) In the paper entitled "Introduction of Additional Conditions of Animal Traders Licence" which was submitted to the Panel in December 2009, it is stated that the AFCD will review the effectiveness of the new requirements one year after implementation.

     The source registration system for the sale of dogs was introduced in light of the possible risk of transmitting diseases, particularly rabies, posed by dogs from unknown sources.  Compared with other types of animals, dogs generally have more contact with people as well as other animals and therefore carry a greater chance of spreading diseases.  As such, there is a need to impose more stringent requirements on the sale of dogs.

     The AFCD reviews the licensing conditions for different types of animal traders from time to time in light of the prevailing situation and actual needs.  For example, to prevent avian influenza, the AFCD amended the licensing conditions for bird traders in June 2007 to stipulate that all birds sold by animal traders had to be from approved sources.

Ends/Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Issued at HKT 12:56


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