LCQ2: Import of cats and dogs
Under the law, a person must obtain in advance a special permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) for the import of cats and dogs. AFCD classifies various countries and places into three groups, and imposes different quarantine requirements on importing cats and dogs from countries and places in different groups. Cats and dogs imported from Group I and Group II countries/places are normally exempt from quarantine while those from Group III countries/places (including the Mainland and the Macau Special Administrative Region) are subject to a minimum 120-day quarantine at the two Animal Management Centres under AFCD. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) regarding the aforesaid three groups of countries/places, in each of the past five years:
(i) of the respective numbers of applications received and approved by AFCD for the import of cats and dogs (with a breakdown, by country/place, of such numbers and the numbers of cats and dogs involved);
(ii) of the numbers of appeal cases received by AFCD from applicants against AFCD's decisions to reject their applications for importing cats and dogs; and
(iii) of the numbers of applications approved by AFCD for importing cats and dogs from the Mainland and from the Macau Special Administrative Region respectively, and the numbers of cats and dogs involved;
(2) of the reasons why cats and dogs imported from Group III countries/places are subject to quarantine at designated Animal Management Centres while those from Group I and Group II countries/places are exempt from quarantine; the average numbers of days for which imported cats and dogs were kept in quarantine at Animal Management Centres in each of the past five years;
(3) given that AFCD updates from time to time the grouping of countries/places based on their rabies situation and other factors, of the details of such situation and factors, and how frequent the grouping of countries/places is reviewed;
(4) of the countries/places the group to which they belonged was changed by AFCD in each of the past five years, and (i) the reasons for and the dates of the changes, and (ii) the groups to which those countries/places belonged before and after such changes, broken down by country/place;
(5) whether it knows if rabies cases were found in the Mainland and the Macau Special Administrative Region in the past five years; if there were such cases, of the number and details; if not, whether AFCD will consider reclassifying those two places into Group II; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(6) of the reasons why the sizes of the basic kennel and cattery rooms (not less than 4 m2 and 1.35 m2 respectively) at the Hong Kong Animal Management Centre are currently smaller than the corresponding sizes at the Kowloon Animal Management Centre (not less than 6.83 m2 and 2.4 m2 respectively); whether the authorities will unify their sizes?
According to the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Regulations (Cap. 139A) and the Rabies Regulation (Cap. 421A), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) regulates the import of cats and dogs from other places through a permit system, with a view to preventing the transmission of animal diseases and rabies into Hong Kong. Rabies is a contagious disease, causing animal (not limited to dogs) and human fatality. Nearly 60 000 people die of rabies in the world (including Asian areas) every year. Hong Kong has a good track record in rabies control, with no locally-infected animal case of rabies since 1987.
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows.
(1) to (3) For importation of cats and dogs, AFCD classifies places of different risk of rabies into three groups in order to safeguard public health. Group I includes rabies-free countries/places (i.e. where rabies has been absent for a long time); Group II includes countries/places where rabies cases are few and under effective control; and Group III includes countries/places where rabies cases are reported and not under effective control. In general, the countries/places which do not meet the requirements of Group I or II (or their situations cannot be determined) will be included in Group III.
AFCD has taken into considerations the information about the surveillance and control of animal diseases provided by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and other relevant factors, when determining the above classification. Since Groups I and II countries/places are considered of lower risk of rabies, cats and dogs imported from these countries/places are exempt from quarantine, provided that the relevant requirements (e.g. vaccinated as required, with valid supporting documents) could be fulfilled. Since the risk of rabies is higher or uncertain in Group III countries/places, and the incubation period of rabies in animals can be months-long, AFCD generally requires a quarantine period of no less than 120 days for the cats and dogs imported from these countries/places, with a view to preventing the transmission of rabies into Hong Kong. AFCD will keep in view the OIE's latest notification of animal diseases and make adjustments to the arrangements as and when necessary.
The applications received and approved by AFCD for the import of cats and dogs (including those imported from the Mainland and Macau) in the past five years are set out at Annex.
(4) In the past five years, in the light of the outbreak of rabies in Taiwan and Malaysia, Taiwan was re-classified from Group I to Group II and Malaysia from Group II to Group III, respectively in 2013 and 2015. Malaysia was re-classified back to Group II last year upon assessment by AFCD.
(5) In view of persistent rabies cases in the Mainland, and a lack of information from the OIE about the surveillance and control of animal diseases in Macau, both the Mainland and Macau are put under Group III.
(6) Sizes of the kennel and cattery rooms at each animal management centre may vary depending on their physical environment, design and operation. AFCD will consider further enhancing the facilities having regard to future development needs.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:20
Issued at HKT 18:20