In the past four years, Hong Kong has done little to make animals better off, according to activists and law experts. No animal police squad has been set up, but more cruelty cases have been exposed, mainly by social media users.Experts said the recent case of a man throwing and kicking a dog in a Tuen Mun supermarket showed that current loose regulations were not serving as sufficient warnings for would-be offenders.
“The main problem is that we still don’t have a duty of care,” said Amanda Whitfort, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s faculty of law.According to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, any person who cruelly harms an animal faces a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a HK$200,000 fine. But unless an animal shows signs of physical harm, it is unlikely that person will be prosecuted.
Whitfort said “there was nothing in the law to cover situations where an animal is not provided with adequately nutritious food, constant access to water, appropriate shelter, timely vet care, adequate exercise or other reasonable standards of care”.