When it comes to finding dog-friendly neighbourhoods or facilities, Hong Kong can be rather tough and unforgiving. We have a extreme shortage of public parks or places for dogs to roam all around, as most important city parks are off-limits to them.
A 2016 survey by petfood Industry of 27,000 online consumers ranked Hong Kong 2nd in Asia in pet ownership, with 35 for every cent of interviewees saying they kept pets, after Japan??￡¤s 37 for each cent and ahead of South Korea??￡¤s 31 for each cent.
With government statistics showing a minimum of a quarter of the million dogs sharing cramped living spaces in our densely populated town, animal rights activists would tell you that it is impractical or even downright cruel to raise pets here.
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Meanwhile, after the festive rush has died down, reality sets in when we witness lots of puppies bought as Christmas gifts dropped off at animal shelters or remaining abandoned.
Quite a few people today, such as children, often feel the urge to own or buy a pet because they may perhaps be attracted because of the cuteness in the animal. Sadly, their impulse is often not backed by the sensibilities or know-how to care for these animals or appreciate the much-preached dictum that ???a dog is for life??¨¤.
Hong Kong has considerably to learn from neighbouring Taiwan. I recently met a member in the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan??￡¤s main legislative body), Wang Yu-min, who has been pushing for much better rights and welfare for animals, especially dogs and cats.
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Taiwanese legislator Wang Yu-min has been pushing for better rights and welfare for animals. picture: WDA/pANOS
Since her first term commenced in 2012, Wang has done her utmost to introduce landmark amendments to broaden the scope of Taiwan??￡¤s Animal protection Law. Changes she has released involve the banning of dog and cat meat consumption, a ban around the mercy killing of stray animals, increasing penalties and sentences for animal cruelty, and recently the introduction of a 12-year compulsory animal protection education into the national curriculum, the first of its form in Asia.
As an intercontinental city, we should show our progressiveness inside the area of animal protection and turn into champions in improving animal welfare.
The introduction of compulsory education on animal protection may well be a important and innovative step to raise awareness in a very considerably broader and deeper way. Educating our children can fundamentally shape the mindsets of future generations to help realise far-reaching attitude changes.
Hong Kong dogs enjoy a walk in Sheung Wan. Image: Nora Tam
Like Taiwan, Hong Kong is also seeing changing attitudes as dogs are now widely seen as pets, long-term companions, or even substitute children in a very family.
We often see high-profile cases of animal torture or abuse getting exposed on social media top to substantial public outrage, this kind of as naming and shaming, and causing criminal prosecution.