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LCQ13: Handling of stray dogs

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (October 14):


     Will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of complaints lodged by members of the public in the past 12 months about nuisances caused by stray dogs, with a breakdown of that by District Council districts in which the places frequented by the stray dogs were situated;

(2) of the number of stray dogs caught by the authorities in the past 12 months, and the respective numbers of such dogs which were subsequently adopted and euthanised; and

(3) whether it knows the effectiveness of the "Trap-Neuter-Return" trial programme for stray dogs recently implemented by animal welfare organisations; if the programme is remarkably effective, whether the authorities will implement it comprehensively; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



The Government has been striving to promote in the community a culture of care for animals with a view to protecting and promoting animal welfare. To this end, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has established a dedicated team to devise, implement and fortify public education and publicity programmes for disseminating messages that help promote care for animals and a responsible attitude for keeping pets. We have also been encouraging members of the public to adopt stray animals and co-operating with animal welfare organisations on the provision of animal adoption services. In addition, according to the Rabies Ordinance (Cap. 421), a keeper of any animal who, without reasonable excuse, abandons that animal commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.

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

(1) From September 2014 to August 2015, the AFCD received a total of 6 537 complaints involving stray dogs. The department does not keep breakdown of the figures by district.

(2) At present, all stray animals caught, including lost pets loitering on the street, will be sent to the animal management centres (AMCs) of the AFCD and kept there for observation.  For animals with a microchip implanted, the AMCs will try to locate their owners based on the information on the microchips. In general, these animals will stay in the centres temporarily for about 10 to 20 days. Those without a microchip will stay in the centres for at least four days, allowing time for their owners to reclaim them. In those cases where the animals in question (be they animals handed over by pet owners or left unclaimed) are in good health and assessed by a veterinary surgeon as having a gentle temperament and suitable for adoption, the AFCD will arrange for their transfer to animal welfare organisations (AWOs) for adoption by members of the public. Only animals that remain unclaimed or not adopted at the end of the process will be euthanised.  In fact, a number of international animal organisations, including the World Organisation for Animal Health, agree that in situations where various measures for managing stray dogs have been implemented but stray dogs caught remain high in number or not fit for adoption, euthanasia would be an appropriate solution. There are also cases where animals that are ill or hurt need to be euthanised to relieve them of their suffering

     From September 2014 to August 2015, the number of stray dogs caught by the AFCD was 2 747 (including lost pet dogs loitering on the street). Over the same period, 699 dogs were adopted via the AFCD's partner AWOs, while 1 649 needed to be euthanised.

(3) In recent years, some AWOs advocate the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) concept to gradually reduce stray dog population. The advocates consider that TNR can slow down the continuous reproduction of stray dogs, and with the death of stray dogs by natural causes over time, their population will gradually decline. In this way, the number of stray dogs may be controlled without resorting to euthanasia. As neutered dogs are generally less aggressive, the nuisance caused by dogs fighting may also subside. Nevertheless, according to overseas experience and data available, whether TNR as a measure for reducing stray dog population and the associated nuisance is able to achieve the effectiveness as that suggested by the advocates has yet to be proved scientifically.  

     The AFCD agreed earlier to assist the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Society for Abandoned Animals (SAA) in implementing a three-year TNR trial programme in designated zones with a view to assessing the effectiveness of TNR in Hong Kong. The trial programme was launched in January 2015 after the exemption provisions in the relevant legislation had been brought into effect. As the programme co-ordinators of the trial zones in Cheung Chau and Tai Tong, Yuen Long respectively, the SPCA and the SAA are responsible for implementing the trial programme according to the operational procedures agreed with the AFCD.

     The AFCD will closely monitor the progress of the trial programme. An independent consultant has been commissioned for timely assessment of the programme's effectiveness. The sustainability of the trial programme will hinge on a number of factors, including the continued support of local residents, the potential nuisance and/or danger to the public in the vicinity, and the successful prevention of dog abandonment by irresponsible owners in the area. The AFCD will review the situation regularly during the three-year trial period and sum up the experience upon completion of the programme. As the programme is still in the first year of the trial period, we are not able to evaluate its effectiveness at this stage.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:57


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