Hong Kong Focus – The Government Clarifies that Pet Owners will not be Required to Surrender Their Pets

The government has recently amended the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation (Cap. 599A), which stipulates that pet owners must surrender their pets according to the instructions of health officers and makes non-compliance with the instructions an offense and introduces penalties. The amendment has aroused controversy and many pet owners are very worried under the gloom of the incident of hamsters-culling earlier.

As the legislation does not give the criteria for health officers to judge, the World Dog Alliance (WDA) is concerned whether the amendment will set a precedent for culling dogs and cats. Fortunately, Legislative Councilor Gary Chan Hak-kan conveyed the concerns to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and received a personal reply from the Director, who is pledged to make explanations to the public.

The AFCD said on 18th April that, except for a few animal species, such as hamsters, there is no evidence that infected animals, such as dogs and cats will transmit the virus to humans. Therefore, the chance of human infection through animals is very low. The Department is unlikely to exercise the relevant powers to require pet owners to surrender their pets.

The AFCD also claims that, if the pet owner needs to have a quarantine due to Covid-19, the Animal Management Center can take care of their dogs and cats and make medical surveillance to ensure that humans and animals are healthy.

The WDA is pleased to see that the government has responded quickly and directly to the public’s concerns, making it clear that there is little chance of requiring pet owners to surrender their pets, which is very different from its previous style of repeating legal provisions. This is the first step to rebuild mutual trust between the government and the public.