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LCQ11: Catching stray dogs

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (January 22):


     It is learnt that in recent years, stray dogs often got injured or even died from struggling when they were being caught by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). Some members of the public also point out that the methods used by AFCD in catching stray dogs are excessively cruel and outdated. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of stray dogs which were caught, as well as the respective numbers of dogs which were injured or died while being caught, in each of the past three years;

(2) of the respective numbers of stray dogs which were euthanised or adopted among the stray dogs caught in each of the past three years; and

(3) whether it will improve the methods of catching stray dogs in order to reduce injuries or deaths of dogs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government attaches great importance to animal welfare and management. Our policy objective is to ensure that animals and people co-exist in a harmonious way. To target problems arising from nuisances caused by stray animals, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) adopts the capture-and-remove approach, aiming at reducing nuisances at source and controlling the number of stray animals. The animal capture method adopted by the AFCD is approved by overseas countries and professional bodies. All front-line officers responsible for the work are professionally trained and have to follow the relevant guidelines strictly.

     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The number of stray dogs caught, the number of abandoned dogs received by the AFCD, as well as the number of dogs reclaimed by their owners, re-homed and euthanised over the past three years are set out at Annex.

     The experience of the AFCD shows that when dogs are being caught, it is their instinct to put up resistance by struggling and biting the dog-catching pole. The dogs may suffer from gum bleeding or minor oral injuries if they bite too hard. According to the AFCD, there is no record of serious injuries or death of dogs resulting from dog-catching exercises.

(3) In their attempts to catch stray dogs, AFCD officers will adopt different methods in the light of the actual situation, in the interest of ensuring both the safety of front-line officers and the public, and the well-being of animals.

     At present, AFCD officers mainly use dog-catching poles to catch stray dogs. This is a safe animal catching method approved by the World Health Organization and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Dog-catching poles are made of strong and flexible rattan ropes, which minimise the chance of causing any unnecessary suffering to animals.

     AFCD officers will also make proper use of snares to lure and catch stray dogs in cases involving a vast area or where the land form does not allow the safe use of dog-catching poles. The use of snares is brought in from Australia and approved by the Animal Welfare Advisory Group which comprises representatives from a wide spectrum of fields including veterinary science, animal welfare and management, the pet trade as well as other professions. Every time AFCD officers use the snare, they will put up notices at conspicuous places or fence off the affected area with warning tapes. Furthermore, AFCD officers will keep watch on the spot throughout the exercise to ensure that no passers-by or other animals will come close. Once a stray dog is caught, the officers concerned will immediately loosen the snare. The dog will then be transferred to a dog cage and delivered to an animal management centre of the AFCD for detention, observation and follow-up actions.

     Before carrying out on-site actions, AFCD officers responsible for catching stray animals will be trained by leaders of the animal control teams in using the animal catching tools. The AFCD will also provide them with sufficient opportunities to practise animal catching strategies with the team members. They will be given the guidelines on handling and catching stray dogs and cats, which set out detailed instructions on catching stray animals. The officers must be well acquainted with the contents of the guidelines and strictly comply with them when conducting on-site actions.

     The AFCD will review from time to time the methods adopted for catching stray dogs to ensure that animal welfare is sufficiently protected.

Ends/Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:28


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