The new Hong Kong Government will take office on 1st July and it is expected that a new structure will be formed. The World Dog Alliance (WDA) sees it as a possible change in animal welfare policies of Hong Kong. In the long run, WDA believes the new government structure will help improve animal welfare standards in the city.
Currently the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) is responsible for animal-related policies. The department is supervised by the Food and Health Bureau. It is well-known that the Secretary for Food and Health is usually a doctor or a nurse, which implies that public health is the main focus of the bureau. Unfortunately, animal welfare is usually neglected. Earlier this year, quite a number of hamsters were slaughtered by the Government in fear of the spread of COVID-19, which created public outrage.
The reorganisation proposal suggests reconstructing the Food and Health Bureau into Health Bureau, which will be responsible for medical and health policies, and expanding the duties of the Environment Bureau. It will take over animal welfare policies and the bureau will be renamed as the Environment and Ecology Bureau.
Under the new structure, the AFCD will be supervised by the Environment and Ecology Bureau. The WDA welcomes this proposal and hopes that the new bureau will implement better animal welfare policies since public health has been overriding animal rights for a long time. Most importantly, the Food and Health Bureau treats animals as ‘properties’, and the WDA hopes that the Environment and Ecology Bureau can recognise animals as ‘sentient beings’ in the future, and continue to improve animal welfare in Hong Kong.