The Administration's responses on submissions
to the Subcommittee on Resolution
under section 3 of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance (Cap. 167)
and Dogs and Cats (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (97 of 1997)
Commencement Notice 1999
As at 19 July 1999, six submissions were received, including submissions from Messrs P C Sanderson, Neil McLaughlin and Nick Etches (two submissions), Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Hong Kong Veterinary Association (HKVA). The Administration's responses to the views expressed in the submissions are set out in the following paragraphs.
Issue Relating to Fighting Dogs
The proposed level of the ex-gratia payment at $3,000 is too high and would encourage profiteering (SPCA). It is essential to avoid any misuse of the ex-gratia payment plan (HKVA).
2. We propose to offer ex-gratia payment of $3,000 to a dog keeper who surrenders his/her fighting dog to the Director of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) for destruction during the transitional period of 120 days so as to encourage voluntary surrendering of existing fighting dogs. To prevent abuse, the fighting dog surrendered must be present in Hong Kong and the keeper must hold a valid dog licence in respect of the dog immediately before the commencement of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation in order to be eligible for the ex-gratia payment.
Issues Relating to Large Dogs
The use of body weight as the determining criterion of control is inappropriate. The 20 kilogram body weight limit for the classification of "large dogs" is arbitrary (Messrs Mclaughlin, Etches and Sanderson). One submission urges for a higher weight limit (SPCA). Yet another submission supports the 20 kilogram body weight limit and considers it a good compromise for a problem without a clear-cut solution (HKVA).
3. The proposal of using a breed-based classification was discussed by the concerned Bills Committee of the former Legislative Council in June 1997 and considered to be inappropriate. The breed-based system would not be able to cover Chow type and mongrel dogs which, according to Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD), account for 57% of dog bite cases between April 1998 and March 1999.
4. The 20 kilogram limit for "large dogs" is proposed after reviewing statistics on the breeds of dogs responsible for dog bites in Hong Kong as well as information on the weight of these breeds. This review reveals that large dogs are responsible for the vast majority of serious bite wounds. AFD recognises that not all large dogs are dangerous, but large dogs are generally more powerful than small dogs. If children are bitten by a large dog, the wounds are more likely to be in the region of the face and neck and may lead to permanent disfigurement.
It is unreasonable to require large dogs be muzzled in all public places (Messrs Sanderson and McLaughlin).
5. Some of the submissions reflect a mistaken belief that large dogs will be required to be muzzled in all public places under the draft Dangerous Dogs Regulation. In fact, the muzzling requirement relates only to indoor public places, such as lifts, corridors, lobbies, etc, where dogs and humans (including children) may be co-occupying confined areas. Large dogs are required to be both muzzled and on a leash not exceeding 1.5 metres long in indoor public places only.
6. In outdoor public places, muzzling is not required for large dogs. In most cases, large dogs will only need to wear a muzzle for the period of time when moving from their owners' residence through the common parts of the building to the outside. In outdoor public places, large dogs will only have to be under control on a leash not exceeding 2 metres in length.
The exemption examination concept is too complex and would deter most dog owners (Mr McLaughlin). One submission considers the examination concept agreeable provided that the test will not be so difficult that only full time trained dogs will be able to pass it and suggests that dogs of less than 20 kilograms should also be required to take an examination (Mr Etches).
7. DAF recognises the merits of training and is prepared to grant exemptions under section 17 of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance to trained dogs if they can demonstrate through examination that they will remain under control off leash in a range of standard day-today live situations. The examination will not be overly demanding. It will require the dog to demonstrate no more than a casual interest to other dogs in a confined space and capable of being sent off, stopped and recalled. They should also be capable of walking through a crowd without showing signs of fear or aggression. DAF plans that the examination may be held twice a year either as an independent event or in conjunction with major dog events, such as a dog show. Exempted dogs will be given special collar tags to distinguish them from other dogs. Their exemption status will also be entered in their microchip licensing records.
One submission suggests to stipulate in the Regulation the type of muzzle that must be used, in order to satisfy the concerns of individuals that dogs may not be able to cool themselves by panting (HKVA).
8. Large dogs are only required to be muzzled in indoor public places. In most cases, the time will be so short that cooling should not be a problem. There is no requirement of muzzling outdoors.
The problems of uncontrolled village dogs and stray dogs should be addressed (Mr Sanderson).
9. AFD conducts regular raids to places where stray dogs are known to aggregate. Where the above-mentioned dogs are identified back to their owners, AFD may where applicable issue written direction under Regulation 14 of the proposed Dangerous Dogs Regulation to the owners requiring them to properly restrain their dogs.
Economic Services Bureau/
Agriculture and Fisheries Department