Speaking at a Legco meeting on Monday, officials say local courts may in future order animals to be taken away from people convicted of animal cruelty or breach of duty of care offences, to prevent them from being hurt again.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department says it will devise a system to monitor disqualified persons and conduct inspections to check if they have breached the court’s order.
Suzanne Gendron, a director of an animal care and management company, told RTHK that the proposed policy is reasonable, even though it may not be easy for the government to enforce the arrangement.
“I do think that if people have [committed] severe animal cruelty, then they do not deserve to have animals,” she said. “It’s like pedophiles don’t get to go near schools.”
“Unless your lack of duty of care results in a severe injury or death to an animal, that might be a little too severe to take the animal away forever.”
Authorities added that there may be substantial increases to the current penalties on animal cruelty offences.
Right now, offenders face a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and three years’ imprisonment.
Gendron said Hong Kong can make reference to the relevant laws in Britain, where she said is doing very well in animal welfare protection.
“[Scotland has] recently changed its animal cruelty punishment to five years with unlimited fines,” she explained.
Twelve people in Hong Kong were prosecuted in the first nine months of 2020 for suspected animal cruelty.
The most serious offender was meted an eight-month jail term.