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I. What kinds of pets can be kept?

Generally, a person has the right to keep domestic animals as pets. A domestic animal is one that by habit or training normally resides with humans. It is an offence to keep certain wild animals that are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170 of the Laws of Hong Kong) or the Protection of Endangered Species and Plants Ordinance, (Cap. 586) which gives effect to the CITES treaty (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The Protection of Endangered Species and Plants Ordinance prohibits the import, export and possession of certain endangered animals (or their parts) without a licence or exemption. These are listed in Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Ordinance. The Wild Animals Protection Ordinance prohibits hunting any wild animals in Hong Kong. Furthermore, certain protected wild species cannot be disturbed or taken from the wild. These are listed in Schedule 2 of the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance.

Some CITES listed animals require the owner to get a licence from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) for possession of the animal in accordance with section 23 of the Protection of Endangered Species and Plants Ordinance. Failure to get a licence may result in a fine of $100,000 (section 28 of the Protection of Endangered Species and Plants Ordinance) and the animal may be confiscated. Any person who buys a CITES listed species in Hong Kong should get a copy of the original import permit for the animal from the pet trader. The purchaser should also get a receipt from the trader showing the details of the animal’s species, identifying number and date of purchase. This information is required to apply to AFCD for a licence to possess the animal legally in Hong Kong. The AFCD website has further information on which species require licenses.

Licensing requirements should be checked with the AFCD before the animal is purchased.

A. Keeping animals in public housing

Dogs

The keeping of dogs has been banned in public housing since 1 August 2003. However, dogs of less than 20kg in weight that were kept before that date have been permitted to remain in public housing until their natural demise. Dogs kept with permission must not cause a nuisance to other residents. Any claim of nuisance would need to have been investigated and found to be substantiated twice before permission to keep the dog may be withdrawn by the Housing Authority.  If animals are kept without permission from the Housing Authority, points may be deducted from the Marking Scheme. Points may also be deducted for creating a noise nuisance(e.g. the dog barking) or allowing a dog to foul a common area with faeces. For more information about the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement, please refer to the topic “Public Housing Issues” on the Senior CLIC website.

Small household pets

The Housing Authority has granted general permission for keeping small household pets including de-sexed cats. However, the keeping of wild animals, exotic animals and farm animals is not permitted.

B. Private housing and pets

In private housing, pets may be kept as long as they are not prohibited under the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC). A Deed of Mutual Covenant is a document that is signed by the developer and the first owners of a building after the building has been erected. The DMC is binding on all successors in title, that is, on all present and subsequent owners of property in the building. If the DMC does not mention the keeping of pets, then pets are deemed to be permitted. Judicial authority in Hong Kong has established that the keeping of pets is a normal part of the enjoyment of private premises.If pets are prohibited, the DMC should specifically say so. Keeping pets in breach of the DMC may result in legal action being taken by the Incorporated Owners (IO) against the owner of the unit concerned. However, permission to keep pets may be granted by thecurrent IO, even if the DMC does not allow them. Where such permission is sought, the IO has a duty not to refuse permission unreasonably.

The DMC must be distinguished from House Rules and similar documents drawn up by owners committees after the building is erected. Such Rules cannot invoke an outright ban on the keeping of pets if the Deed of Mutual Covenant did not prohibit pets from being kept. The Deed of Mutual Covenant overrides House Rules and similar agreements between owners. However, where animals kept in private premises cause a serious nuisance to other owners, their keeper may be liable for causing a nuisance (even where the DMC allows the keeping of pets). In such a case, action may be taken by the IO against the owner of the unit where a pet(s) is kept for causing/permitting a nuisance.

For more details about nuisance caused by pets, please refer to another topic “Neighbourhood disputes”.

II. Duties of pet owners

A. Vaccination and getting a licence for your dog

There are a number of legal obligations imposed on dog owners by the Rabies Ordinance (Cap. 421). These include a requirement that dogs five months or older must be licensed by the AFCD and vaccinated against rabies by a veterinary surgeon (sections 20 and 23 of the Rabies Regulation, Cap. 421A). Rabies vaccinations must then be repeated every three years on the renewal of the dog’s license under section 22(1) of the Rabies Regulation. Keeping a dog without a licence is an offence punishable by a fine of $10,000 (Section 20(2) of the Rabies Regulation).

B. Keeping your dog under control

There is also a duty to keep dogs under control. Under section 23 of the Rabies Ordinance, all dogs of any size must be leashed or otherwise kept under control in public places (except in country parks or when swimming at sea). In the case of dogs weighing 20 kilograms or more (large dogs) it is an offence for a person to take the dog into a public place unless the dog is securely held on a leash of not more than 2m in length or is securely tied to a fixed object on a leash of not more than 1.5m in length (section 9(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation, Cap. 167D).

The dog must be tied in a manner that does not pose a danger to public safety and the safety and welfare of the dog and other animals. The requirement for leashing does not apply to a large dog which is in a country park or which is swimming at sea (section 9(2) of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation). Failing to keep a large dog under proper control or failing to keep it tied as described above is an offence and is punishable with a fine of $25,000 or imprisonment for three months (section 9(3) of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation).

C. Dogs biting people

If a dog bites a person, under section 24(1) of the Rabies Ordinance, there is a duty on its keeper to report this to the police and to keep the dog in isolation, for such period as may be specified by the officer in charge of the police station (due to the risk of rabies). Failure to comply may result in a fine of $10,000 in accordance with section 24(2) of the Ordinance. Under section 25(1), the keeper may be guilty of a criminal offence and fined $10,000 if he did not do all he reasonably could to prevent the dog from biting a person. However, under section 25(2), it would be a defence for the keeper to show the dog was deliberately provoked to bite by the person bitten or by someone else. A person may complain to a magistrate that a dog is dangerous and an order may be made that the dog be destroyed or must be kept under effective control under section 5 of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance, Cap. 167.

A keeper who is negligent in controlling his dog may also be liable under civil law if it bites a human or other animal. A duty of care will only arise where the keeper knew or ought to have known the animal was likely to cause damage. Only in rare circumstances would a keeper be held accountable for something done by a tame animal, acting contrary to its ordinary nature.

Even in cases where he was not negligent in controlling his dog a keeper he may still be liable for a bite if he had previous knowledge the dog was likely to attack. A tendency on the part of the dog toward slight nipping or scratching would be insufficient to show such knowledge. For example, animals that nip and scratch during play or when excited have not been categorised as likely to attack.

There would need to be knowledge on the part of the keeper that the dog was really likely to be dangerous, before liability without negligence would arise. The best evidence of such knowledge would be that the dog had done it before.

For more about the possible legal liabilities a dog owner has to bear if his dog has bitten other persons or dogs, please refer to another topic “Neighbourhood disputes”.

D. Cleaning up after your dog

It is an offence punishable by a $5,000 fine for a person in charge of a dog not to clean up any faeces or urine the dog has deposited in a public place or the common parts of a building (section 13 of the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulation, Cap. 132BK).

E. Abandonment of pets is an offence

If an Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) officer finds a dog or cat roaming, without any person having charge of it, and it appears to have been lost or to be doing damage, it may be seized and taken to the AFCD animal management centre. At the centre, it will be checked for a microchip or other identification. Where possible, the keeper will be contacted to collect the animal. A pound fee may be charged for the animal’s release, equal to the cost of impounding and keeping the animal (section 2 of the Pounds Ordinance, Cap. 168). Animals not claimed from the AFCD within 96 hours may be assumed to be a stray or to have been abandoned by the keeper (section 22(5) of the Rabies Ordinance). Under section 4(2) of the Pounds Ordinance, such an animal may be euthanized. It is a serious offence to abandon an animal, punishable with a fine of $10,000 or six months imprisonment under section 22(1) of the Rabies Ordinance.

F. Feeding stray animals

It is not an offence to feed domestic stray animals, however leaving food around may be perceived as littering. However, under the Schedule for the Prohibition of Feeding Wild Animals Notice 1999 (Cap. 170B), the feeding of wild animals in country parks is prohibited for conservation reasons.

III. What are my legal rights regarding pet shops?

A. Animal Traders Licence

Under Reg 4(1) of the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations (Cap. 139B) it is not legal to carry on a business as an animal trader without a licence. Besides, all premises used for the sale of animals are required to be licensed. Under Reg 13 of the Regulations, it is an offence to hawk an animal or bird or sell an animal that is unweaned, punishable by a level 1 fine (currently $2,000). Unlicensed trading carries a penalty of a fine at level 1 (currently $2,000). Trading from unlicensed premises carries a penalty of $1,000.

There is no separate licensing scheme for commercial breeding facilities. Along with pet shops, breeders are also considered to be animal traders under the licensing scheme. The exception which currently allows a person to sell his own pets, or the offspring of such pets, as a one off or occasional hobby breeder, is likely to be closed later this year, in response to strong public opinion that all animal traders should be licensed.

Licences are issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and require an animal trader to comply with health and welfare conditions set out by the Department (please click here for more information). Primary enclosures, housing facilities and outdoor areas are required to comply with the Department’s licensing conditions. Under Reg 5(3) of the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations, the sale of diseased animals is prohibited. Members of the public who are concerned that licensing conditions in a pet shop/breeding establishment are not being met may contact the AFCD to investigate.

The conditions attached to an Animal Traders Licence under Reg 5(3) require that:

  1. All dogs for sale in licensed premises have a microchip device with an individual code number implanted under the skin (this microchip provides evidence that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies by a registered veterinary surgeon in Hong Kong; or, for imported animals, a registered veterinary surgeon in the country of origin).

  2. Before sale, dogs of over five months of age must not only have the above mentionedmicrochip implanted, but must also have a dog licence from the AFCD. This licence identifies the microchip number and the keeper of the dog (pet shop/breeder), and the licence for the dog should be transferred to the purchaser upon sale of the dog.

  3. The pet shop or breeder must have a scanner for reading the microchip devices in the dogs for sale available for customers on the pet shop premises at all times. The purchaser of a dog should ensure the dog he is purchasing has a microchip number that correctly matches the documentation before accepting the sale. Every dog has a different microchip number which is used touniquelyidentify the dog when issuing a license for it. Under section 21(3) of the Rabies Ordinance, owning an unlicensed dog is an offence punishable by a fine of $10,000 or six months imprisonment.

  4. All dogs must be vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus and infectious hepatitis before they can be legally sold. An animal trader is required to keep certificates for these vaccinations (issued by a veterinary surgeon) for every dog offered for sale. The vaccination certificate must state the dog’s personal microchip number. Similarly, all cats offered for sale must be vaccinated against feline panleukopaemia and feline respiratory disease. When a dog is sold the original vaccination certificate and license for that dog must be given to the new owner/keeper.

Breaches of the conditions of the Animal Traders Licence are punishable by a $1,000 fine.

B. Buyer beware

There is no general legal right to return an animal after sale and therefore purchasers should be cautious about buying animals without knowing their origin. Animals are goods and to buy one is to make a purchase of unknown quality. While there is an implied condition on sale that the animal is reasonably fit for purpose, there is no warranty as to its quality, unless such a guarantee is specifically provided by the seller. The legal rule of caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies.

At this time there is no legal requirement that prospective purchasers of animals be permitted to inspect the premises in which the animals for sale were bred. Purchasers also have no general right under the law to return animals to the breeder/pet shop if they become sick after sale. Prudent purchasers should insist on checking first hand the health and welfare of a puppy/kitten’s parents, the conditions in which the parents mated, and other breeding animals being kept by the breeder before purchasing the animal.

C. Internet sales

The conditions attached to an Animal Traders Licence are also enforceable against an Internet seller. Internet sales limit the opportunity for the buyer to check microchips, licensing, vaccinations and the health/sociability of the parents of any animal purchased. Where the buyer does not have an opportunity to check the state of the animals in detail before buying, any poor welfare or poor condition of the animals sold can be easily hidden from prospective purchasers. In particular, buyers should beware of the possibility that animals sold on the Internet may have been smuggled into Hong Kong from China where there are no animal welfare laws and the threat of rabies is of real concern.

To ensure that the animal you purchase is in good health, the most prudent choice is to avoid purchasing from animal traders altogether and adopt a pet from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or other reputable NGOs.

D. Pet boarding facilities

Under Reg 2 of the Public Health (Animals) (Boarding Establishment) Regulations (Cap. 139I), all boarding establishments (including pet hotels) are required to have a licence from the AFCD. Operating such a business without a licence is an offence punishable by a fine of $2,000 (reg 4 of the Public Health (Animals) (Boarding Establishment) Regulations). The boarding establishment should have its current licence on prominent display. The AFCD also keeps a list of all licensed boarding facilities/pet hotels on its website and any persons wishing to board their animals should check that the premises has been licensed before leaving their animal alone at the facility. You may click here for the list. Any suspected acts of cruelty should be reported immediately to the police or the AFCD for investigation and possible prosecution. Consumer complaints that do not involve criminal activity should be reported to the Consumer Council. For more details, please go to "Consumer Rights".

E. Grooming parlours or shops

While there is no separate licensing requirement for running a grooming parlour or shop, any grooming facility which provides accommodation for animals must have a pet boarding establishment licence (as described above). Many grooming facilities sell animals as well, as the business also operates as a pet shop. Grooming shops which sell animals must have an Animal Traders Licence for the premises (described above). Such a licence should be on prominent display. The AFCD also keeps a list of all licensed Animal Traders on its website. Any persons wishing to leave their animal at a grooming parlour or shop should check that the premises are safe for their animal before leaving it alone at the facility. Any suspected acts of cruelty should be reported immediately to the police or to the AFCD for investigation and possible prosecution. Consumer complaints that do not involve criminal activity should be reported to the Consumer Council. For more details, please go to "Consumer Rights".

F. Animal adoption

Upon the adoption of a dog aged over five months, it is the duty of the adopter to have the dog’s licence transferred to his name (section 20 of the Rabies Regulation). The adopter should also ensure all vaccinations are up to date and take the animal to the vet for repeat vaccinations as necessary.

You should think twice before adopting an animal. The AFCD has prepared guidelines on things to consider before adopting animals, and also a list of NGOs from which animals are available for adoption. You may refer to the following links:
Guidelines on how to be a responsible pet owner; and
A List of Animal Welfare Organizations.

IV. Animal cruelty

Section 3(1)(a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (Cap. 169) prohibits and punishes cruelty to all animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish or any other vertebrate or invertebrate animals whether they are living in the wild or are tame. The crime carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment or a fine of $200,000. Prosecutions are undertaken by the police and the AFCD. Members of the public who suspect they have witnessed animal cruelty may contact the police, AFCD or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to report the matter.

Usually, for a prosecution for cruelty to succeed under section 3(1)(a), unnecessary suffering must have already been caused to an animal. Suffering need not, however, have been prolonged or to have had serious consequences for an offence to have occurred. It is also not necessary to prove the offender intended cruelty to the animal. It is enough that a normal and reasonable person would have realized the risk that the animal might suffer as a result of his actions and would have adjusted his behaviour accordingly. It is also an offence for the owner of an animal to permit another person to treat his animal cruelly by failing to exercise reasonable care to protect the animal.

It is important to note that while causing an animal to suffer is a criminal offence, failing to provide an animal with the best welfare is not a crime. In such cases a crime will only have occurred if it can be shown that the animal is likely to suffer in the future if its situation is not remedied. For example, whilst it is poor practice not to exercise a fit dog for at least an hour per day, a keeper is unlikely to be prosecuted for cruelty if he fails to do so.

Section 3(1)(g) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance provides that any person who brings into Hong Kong or drives, carries, transports, removes, or has or keeps or knowingly suffers to be had or kept under his control or on his premises, any animal in any way which may cause it needless or avoidable suffering, is guilty of cruelty. This would include overcrowding animals in a confined space, or keeping a dog in a crate for a prolonged time without giving it a chance to exercise. The possibility of harm may therefore allow for a conviction.

Where an animal has been abandoned it is unnecessary to show it has actually suffered before bringing a prosecution under section 22(1) of the Rabies Ordinance. Simply abandoning the animal is a crime.

Under section 3(1)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, fighting or baiting animals (or being involved with premises where this occurs) is also a criminal offence and the animals do not need to have suffered before there is criminal liability. The offence carries a maximum of $200,000 fine or three years imprisonment.

On conviction for animal cruelty, the court may make an order that the person convicted may no longer keep the animal which was treated cruelly, if there is any risk it may be so treated again. The animals will be transferred to the AFCD for euthanasia or re-homing (where suitable).

Dog or cat eating

It is a serious offence to slaughter a dog or cat for food, to use such animals for food or to sell their flesh for food (reg 22 of the Dogs and Cats Regulations). The penalty is a fine of $5,000 or six months imprisonment (reg 23).

V. Special arrangements for fighting dogs/dangerous dogs/guide dogs

A. Control of fighting dogs

It is an offence (punishable by a fine of $50,000 or six months imprisonment) to import an unlicensed fighting dog into Hong Kong. The following breeds of dog are classed as fighting dogs:Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Braziliero or any cross breed of these types (schedule 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation). Where a dog has been classified by the AFCD as a fighting dog, the keeper has 14 days to apply to the Dogs and Cats Classification Board for a re-classification in accordance with section 17(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation.

B. Control of dangerous dogs

A person may complain to a magistrate that a dog is dangerous and not being kept under proper control. Under section 5(1) of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance, a magistrate may order that the dog be destroyed or kept under effective control. If the person to whom the order is made does not comply with the order he may be fined $500 for every day on which he fails to comply with the order, according to section 5(3) of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance.

Under section 10 of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation, a magistrate may also order that a dog be classified as a “known dangerous dog” where a person has died or suffered serious bodily injury (requiring inpatient treatment in a hospital) from an attack by the dog. An order that the dog be classified as dangerous can also be made where the dog has bitten another domestic animal, resulting in that animal being killed or suffering serious bodily injury (requiring veterinary surgery under a general anaesthetic). If the dog was in any way provoked to attack then such an order will not be made.

An order for classification as a dangerous dog can also be made if the dog has a history of repeatedly attacking people without any provocation.

A dog which has been classified as dangerous must be neutered within 90 days and kept muzzled and leashed when in a public place. It must also wear a special collar to identify it. Failing to comply with these conditions for keeping a known dangerous dog may result in a fine of $25,000 or three months imprisonment.

C. Special arrangements for guide dogs

While taking dogs into licensed food premises and onto public transport is generally prohibited, such restrictions do not apply to guide dogs for the blind.

VI. Travel and pets

A. Importing your pet into Hong Kong

1. Dog or cat

It is necessary to have secured a permit from the AFCD before importing a pet dog or cat into Hong Kong. A permit may be issued to a pet owner by the AFCD after an application has been made on the prescribed form and a fee of $432 has been paid. The application for a permit can be downloaded from the AFCD webpage.

Quarantine periods of at least four months may be enforced against animals from jurisdictions where rabies is still considered a risk. Dogs and cats imported directly from rabies free countries, which are Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Fiji, Hawaii and Japan, normally will not be required to undergo quarantine. However animals imported from these seven countries must still be accompanied by a prescribed Animal Health Certificate to show they are disease free. The requirements for an Animal Health Certificate can be downloaded from the AFCD webpage.

The Certificate requires veterinary certification that the animal has, within the past year, been vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis (for dogs) or cat flu and infectious enteritis (for cats). The animal would normally also need to have resided in the country from which it will enter Hong Kong for at least six months (or from birth).

It will also be necessary for dogs and cats aged five months and older to have been vaccinated against rabies within the past year before being importedfrom Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belguim, Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, Cayman Island, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Guam, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Norway, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Taiwan, USA (Continental), Vanuatu and the Virgin Islands. The Certificate which must accompany the animal can be downloaded from the AFCD website.

For dogs and cats imported from other countries not listed above (including China) a minimum of four months quarantine should be expected. They should be micro chipped before import and fully vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis (for dogs) or cat flu and infectious enteritis (for cats). A Health Certificate showing the animal’s vaccination history must accompany the animal. Details of the requirements for certification are available on the AFCD website.

For animals to be imported from China a permit must be sought before entry. The permit is available for download from the AFCD website.

It is also a requirement that dogs and cats imported from China must have an Animal Health Certificate showing the animal has been fully vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis (for dogs) or cat flu and infectious enteritis (for cats). This certificate must accompany the animal. The Animal Health Certificate requirements can be downloaded here.

As there are only two quarantine facilities operating in Hong Kong, space should be booked in the kennel/cattery on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon at least three months in advance. Dogs of five months of age and older will be licensed on entering Hong Kong and, if not already so vaccinated, they must be vaccinated against rabies.

Importing a disability or guide dog

Special permits are granted for the import of service dogs (e.g. guide dogs) and quarantine periods are usually waived if the animal has an Animal Health Certificate declaring it has been vaccinated for parvovirus, distemper, infectious hepatitis and rabies. The application for a permit to import a disability or guide dog can be downloaded from the AFCD website.

Information on the Rabies antibody test are detailed on the AFCD website.

A declaration regarding the type of service provided by the dog must also be completed. This can be downloaded from the AFCD’s website.

The requirements for the Animal Health Certificate for a service dog can be downloaded here.

2. Birds

The fee for importing a pet bird is $344.

Pet birds may be imported with a special permit where the AFCD does not consider there is risk of Avian Flu. The bird must have been quarantined for 21 days prior to export and checked for Avian Flu. The bird must also be accompanied by a health certificate signed by a vet within 5 days before export. The requirements for a pet bird import permit can be downloaded from the AFCD website.

3. Rodents and reptiles

The fee for importing pets of this nature is $344.

A special permit must be obtained before the animal can be imported to Hong Kong. Mammals must have been kept indoors for six months prior to import (or from birth) and must show no signs of rabies. Chinchillas must be over 12 weeks old and certified as bred in captivity. The permit application can be downloaded from the AFCD website.

Pet turtles must be certified as free of salmonellosis. The application for a permit for importing a pet turtle can be downloaded here.

For reptiles, the AFCD has a list of approved species and some pets may not be permitted entry. A permit should always be sought and where necessary the owner of a snake may be required to pay for an expert snake handler to handle the snake during inspection. The application for an import permit can be downloaded here.

B. Taking your pet with you when you leave Hong Kong

Overseas countries have their own import requirements and many will require advance planning and vaccinations before the animal can be transported abroad. In Hong Kong there are a few commercial companies that can assist with the logistical arrangements for moving pets to countries abroad. If it is truly impossible to take the animal to the new country and the owner is migrating permanently then careful arrangements should be made for its re-homing with friends in Hong Kong. Giving animals to already overcrowded animal shelters is not usually in the best interests of an animal which has known the security of a private home. Giving the animal to strangers met on the Internet may result in it ending up abandoned or imprisoned in a puppy/kitten breeding farm.

FAQ

1. Can I keep animals in public housing?

The keeping of dogs has been banned in public housing since 1 August 2003. However, dogs of less than 20kg in weight that were kept before that date have been permitted to remain in public housing until their natural demise.

The Housing Authority has granted general permission for keeping small household pets including de-sexed cats. However, the keeping of wild animals, exotic animals and farm animals is not permitted.

For more details, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Laws relating to pets > What kinds of pets can be kept? > A. Keeping animals in public housing .

2. How can I know if a private housing prohibits keeping of pets?

In private housing, pets may be kept as long as they are not prohibited under the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC). A Deed of Mutual Covenant is a document that is signed by the developer and the first owners of a building after the building has been erected. If the DMC does not mention the keeping of pets, then pets are deemed to be permitted. If pets are prohibited, the DMC should specifically say so. Keeping pets in breach of the DMC may result in legal action being taken by the Incorporated Owners (IO) against the owner of the unit concerned.

However, where animals kept in private premises cause a serious nuisance to other owners, their keeper may be liable for causing a nuisance (even where the DMC allows the keeping of pets).

For more details about this issue, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Laws relating to pets > What kinds of pets can be kept? > B. Private housing and pets .

3. If my dog bites someone, what should I do?

If your dog bites a person, as a keeper of the dog, there is a duty on you to report this to the police and to keep the dog in isolation, for such period as may be specified by the officer in charge of the police station (due to the risk of rabies). Failure to comply may result in a fine.

You may be guilty of a criminal offence and be fined if you did not do all you reasonably could to prevent your dog from biting a person. Pursuant to a complaint being lodged, a magistrate may rule that a dog is dangerous and an order may be made that the dog be destroyed or must be kept under effective control.

If you are negligent in controlling your dog, you may also be liable for compensation in a civil action if it bites a human or other animal. Even in cases where you were not negligent in controlling your dog, you may still be liable for a bite if you had previous knowledge the dog was likely to attack.

For more details, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Laws relating to pets > Duties of pet owners > C. Dogs biting people .

4. I am planning to run a pet shop. What are the things that I need to be aware of?

Under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations (Cap. 139B) it is not legal to carry on a business as an animal trader without a licence. Besides, all premises used for the sale of animals are required to be licensed.

Licences are issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and require an animal trader to comply with health and welfare conditions set out by the Department. Primary enclosures, housing facilities and outdoor areas, for example, are required to comply with the Department's licensing conditions. The sale of diseased animals is prohibited.

The conditions attached to an Animal Traders Licence under Reg 5(3) of the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations require that:

  1. All dogs for sale in licensed premises have a microchip device with an individual code number implanted under the skin.
  2. Before sale, dogs of over five months of age must not only have the above mentioned microchip implanted, but must also have a dog licence from the AFCD.
  3. The pet shop or breeder must have a scanner for reading the microchip devices in the dogs for sale available for customers on the pet shop premises at all times.
  4. All dogs must be vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus and infectious hepatitis before they can be legally sold. An animal trader is required to keep certificates for these vaccinations (issued by a veterinary surgeon) for every dog offered for sale. The vaccination certificate must state the dog’s personal microchip number. Similarly, all cats offered for sale must be vaccinated against feline panleukopaemia and feline respiratory disease.

For more details, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Laws relating to pets > What are my legal rights regarding pet shops?

5. What acts amount to committing the offence of cruelty to animals?

Usually, for a prosecution for cruelty to animals to succeed, unnecessary suffering must have already been caused to an animal. Suffering need not, however, have been prolonged or to have had serious consequences for an offence to have occurred. It is also not necessary to prove the offender intended cruelty to the animal. It is enough that a normal and reasonable person would have realized the risk that the animal might suffer as a result of his actions and would have adjusted his behaviour accordingly. It is also an offence for the owner of an animal to permit another person to treat his animal cruelly by failing to exercise reasonable care to protect the animal.

If you want to know more, please visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Laws relating to pets > Animal cruelty .

6. I am going to migrate to another country. Other than giving away my dog, what else can I do?

Instead of leaving your dog behind, you may consider taking your dog with you. Overseas countries have their own import requirements and many will require advance planning and vaccinations before the animal can be transported abroad. In Hong Kong there are a few commercial companies that can assist with the logistical arrangements for moving pets to countries abroad. If it is truly impossible to take the animal to the new country and the owner is migrating permanently then careful arrangements should be made for its re-homing with friends in Hong Kong. Giving animals to already overcrowded animal shelters is not usually in the best interests of an animal which has known the security of a private home. Giving the animal to strangers met on the Internet may result in it ending up abandoned or imprisoned in a puppy/kitten breeding farm.

For more information, please visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Laws relating to pets > Travel and pets .

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