The Hong Kong government will amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (Cap. 169) in the second half of 2022 to introduce a positive “duty of care” on anyone responsible for animals. In addition, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) may make it mandatory for all cats sold by licensed animal traders to be microchipped.

Duty of care for an animal means that owners have to provide appropriate care for any animals they are responsible for. This can include providing an animal with food, water, and accommodation, understanding its normal behavioural patterns, treating disease and injury, and handling the animal appropriately.

During the Legislative Council meeting on April 27, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan addressed queries about whether Hong Kong would amend Cap. 169 to include a positive duty of care, similar to requirements in the UK, Queensland (Australia), and Singapore. She said that this measure will be included when the ordinance is amended in the second half of the year.

Chan said that other proposed measures include making cruelty to animals an indictable offence, increasing penalties for such offences, and giving enforcement officers greater authority to prevent animal cruelty and suffering. She added that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Trading and Breeding) Regulations (Cap. 139B) will also be amended to introduce a positive duty of care requirement for animal breeders.

The Secretary also responded to a question regarding whether it should be compulsory for cats to be microchipped in Hong Kong, which is the case for dogs over five months old. She replied that the main reason for dogs’ microchip requirement is to prevent the spread of rabies, as specified under Cap. 421A. This has not been mandated for cats as the risk of rabies transmission among them is lower than for dogs.

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However, the AFCD has plans to make it mandatory for all cats sold by licensed animal traders to be microchipped so that owners can locate lost pets. The department will do this by revising the Code of Standards for Licensed Animal Traders.

Header image credits: Ivonne Wierink via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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