LCQ18: Abandoned animals

     Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (February 23):


     Some members of the public have pointed out that the problem of abandoned pets in Hong Kong is serious, which not only involves inhumane treatment of animals, but also causes deterioration in environmental hygiene and nuisance to members of the public.  They have further pointed out that some animal adoption organisations have ceased to take in abandoned pets and stray animals owing to insufficient facilities and resources, and also many people choose to abandon their pets on outlying islands (e.g. Lamma Island, etc.).  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) what measures had been adopted by the authorities in the past three years to ensure that animal adoption organisations had sufficient capacity to take in abandoned pets, and whether it had studied jointly with such organisations how to deal with the problem of abandoned pets;

(b) whether the situation of pets being abandoned on outlying islands was more serious than that in the other districts in the past three years and whether such situation was of concern to the Government; if so, of the measures to address this problem; and

(c) given that some members of the public have pointed out that whenever a housing estate announces prohibition against the keeping of pets by tenants, a large number of pets will be abandoned by its tenants, whether the Government will follow up such situation and offer assistance to the tenants concerned?



     We believe the most effective way to address the problem of abandoned animals is to raise public awareness of responsible pet ownership.  Pet owners should ponder over potential adoption of pets thoroughly and should take proper care of them afterwards.  They should not allow their pets to cause nuisance to other people, let alone abandon them lightly.  To this end, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has been stepping up promotion and education at various levels and through different channels, including broadcasting Announcements of Public Interest on television and radio as well as putting up posters on public transport to promote care for animals.  In addition, the AFCD produces promotional leaflets, posters and souvenirs for free distribution to the public, and also organises other promotional activities to spread the message.

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

(a) The AFCD has been working in collaboration with more than ten major animal welfare organisations (AWOs), including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Society for Abandoned Animals, etc., in handling stray animals caught or pets given up by members of the public and making re-homing arrangements for them.  Apart from AWOs, the four Animal Management Centres of the AFCD also receive pets given up by members of the public.

     In an effort to help AWOs further publicise their animal re-homing scheme, the AFCD has implemented new measures, including publicity for participating AWOs (partner organisations) through the AFCD's website, pamphlets, leaflets or joint promotional activities; the introduction of new re-homing procedures including, among others, pro-active liaison with partner organisations and provision of animal photos when there are animals suitable for adoption; as well as provision of outsourced free neutering service for animals (mainly cats and dogs) adopted through partner organisations.

(b) While AFCD does not have the statistics relating to all abandoned or stray animals, there is a decline in the number of stray dogs caught by the AFCD in the Islands District in the past three years (as shown in the table below).  There is no indication that the problem of abandoned animals in the Islands District is more serious than that in other districts.

         Number of stray dogs caught
         in the Islands District
2008        291
2009        285
2010        228

(c) Private housing estates formulate their own arrangements about pet-keeping by residents.  We call on the estate management, before tightening the pet-keeping arrangements, to allow for adequate time and provide pet owners with necessary assistance, including advising them to consider handing over their pets to the AFCD or other AWOs if they have difficulties in re-homing their pets.  Estate management companies may contact the AFCD, which will provide appropriate assistance.  Depending on the health conditions and temperament of the animals, the AFCD and relevant AWOs will try to arrange re-homing for them.  The AFCD will also step up publicity and education for estate management companies on handling pet-keeping issues.

Ends/Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:52