Over 400 Hongkongers attended a candlelight vigil outside the Legislative Council complex on Sunday to petition the government to allow dogs to be kept as pets at public housing estates. It follows a recent crackdown by the Housing Department.
The event was co-organised by Dogs Rights Concern Group and a local activist group which advocated for the legalisation of dog owning in public housing estates. Many dog owners brought along their pets and waved electronic candles or the flashlights on their phone in a gesture of solidarity.
“We sincerely hope that the government can review the current policies towards dogs in public housing and make rules that are less restrictive but more accomodating. We believe that proper education of the dog owners is a way more practical alternative to total banning,” the organisers said on the official event page.
The gathering was attended by Claudia Mo of the Civic Party, who said that although owning dogs violated the spirit of contract, what was expressly provided in writing may not necessarily be reasonable. She cited slavery as an example of something that was once explicitly illegal. She also said that people should not forbid others from owning dogs merely because they were afraid of dogs themselves, HK Animal Post reported.
Mo will meet with representatives from the Housing Department this Friday on behalf of the dog owners, in hopes of convincing them to relax the rules on forbidding dogs in public housing estates.
Betsy, a dog owner who lives at Hing Tin Estate in Lam Tin, said that the Housing Department is looking into possibly applying for a prohibitory injunction to prevent residents in housing estates from owning dogs, which would mean that she would have to part with her pet, whom she had been living with for three years. She said that in order to foster a harmonious environment, volunteers have formed groups to train dogs which have not been housebroken, so as to ensure that the dogs are not affecting other residents.
Under the current rules, canines are banned in public housing estates, but small household pets “that do not pose any health hazard and do not cause any nuisance”, including cats, are permitted.