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Effects and solutions of abandoned animals in hong kong

Abandoned animals in Hong Kong Recently, several cattle- vehicle collisions are reported and cause social discussion about animal policy in HK. According to the research conducted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal, SPCA, in 2016 and 2017, nearly 700 stray animals handled were surrendered by their owners. Besides, about 1400 animals collected or rescued were humanely destroyed. Animal abandonment may worsen the living environment, hygiene and affect public safety. Improvements are needed in current practices and strategies applied in order to solve the impacts. Impacts For the animals which are abandoned by their owners, they have to develop their own living ability as there will not have people to feed them as always. As food supply reduce, they may have to search for food in the rubbish bin or some passerby may feed them. The former one is a more common practice which may lead to the flipping off of the rubbish bin as their mobility and height are limited and the litter inside may fall on the floor and pollute the environment. Also, the food residual left on the floor may contribute to environmental pollution. According to Chen, G. (2017), throwing the food on the ground is the common practice of feeding by the people. The uneaten leftovers attract flies and maggots in extreme cases which is the all ideal vectors for diseases, say health authorities. Besides, as the stray animals may access to different places that we may not go or cannot access. They may bring unknown viruses and bacteria to the citizen especially when they get in contact with the people during the feeding process. The habits of the stray animals that they may sniff and follow the passerby when they heard of the sound of plastic bag may be developed due to this practice. This increase the opportunity of people to get in contact with the strayed animals and raise the risks of exposure to unknown viruses and diseases. Moreover, excretions, feces and dead bodies left on the roadside or along the river may lead to environmental pollution. When they are disposed along the river, the water will be contaminated. The surrounding residents may consume contaminated water. It may lead to poor hygiene problem and the spread of infectious diseases in a severe situation. In addition, Odours produced may disturb the air quality and threaten the health of the citizens. Apart from worsening living environment and hygiene, public safety is affected. It is because stray animals usually move in packs and are more aggressive. Also, some species, like dogs, will occupy territory. Therefore, motors and passerby inside their ‘territories’ are being chased and attacked since they are considered as invaders. Furthermore, the phototaxis of animals make them gathered near the light and street lamps on both sides of the road are their best choice. Moreover, loss of habitat forces them to walk on the road to find new habitat. This increase the rate of animal-vehicle collisions, which may lead to property loss and death. For instance, over 80% of car accidents reported involved dogs in southern Spain in 2014 and 2015. ( Canal D., Martin B., Lucas M.”,& Ferrer M., 2018) Last, animal abandonment may induce animal bites accidents. Animal bites can cause severe injury or even amputation. For example, in July 2013, a 5-year-old girl was attacked by a Tibetan Mastiff in Beijing. In the same month, five more cases were reported. Besides, rabies infections and other animal-borne diseases may be transmitted from stray animals to human, which may cause death. Solutions In order to mitigate the impacts brought by abandoned animals, the population of abandoned animal has to be controlled. Controlling population of abandoned animal is the root solution. There are two main strategies, namely ‘Trap and remove’ practice and ‘ Trap-Neuter-Return’ (TNR) strategy, in controlling abandoned animals’ population. ‘Trap and remove’ is the current practice in Hong Kong. It is implemented by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, AFCD, and assisted by the SPCA. The AFCD adopts the ‘Trap and remove’ practise that aim at reducing nuisance and control the population of stray animals. Upon receipt of complaints against stray animals, AFCD will try to locate and catch the animals, which will be put in one of the four Animal Management Centres (AMCs) of AFCD. AMCs will try to contact the owner of animals implanted with microchip based on the information thereon. In general, these animals will stay in AMCs temporarily for about 10 to 20 days. Those without a microchip will be put in AMCs for at least four days, pending reclaim by their owners. Euthanasia of the animal may be carried out by the Veterinary Officer in case no one claims to be the owner. (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, 2016) Another strategy is the ‘Trap-Neuter-Return’, it is also known as ‘Trap-Neuter-Vaccinated-Return’ strategy. This strategy has been adopted in the Cat Colony Care Programme by SPCA(HK) for treating stray cats issue since 2000. (SPCA”,n.d.) The practice first catches stray animals or abandoned animals. The trapped animals will be assessed by a veterinarian. Suitable animals will then be desexed and vaccinated against rabies and other diseases.Moreover, a microchip would be implanted in each desexed animal. The desexed animals will be returned to their original community. The two strategies can control the population of stray animals to a different extent. Our group found that the TNR strategy is a more effective method to manage the population of stray animals compared to the catch and remove strategy. According to Palmer, C. (2014) TNR practice can effectively control the stray animals’ population by stopping the reproduction of animals. In a theoretical aspect, the trap and remove practice cannot effectively remove the stray animal population. When the number of stray animal in a community reduced, the animals remained in that community relatively having more food and resources due to the decrease of comparatives. The remaining stray animals have more food, such environment enhance those animals to reproduce. The reproductive rate can soon compensate for the removal rate. However, the animals involved in TNR strategy are desexed and then returned to their own community. The stray animals cannot reproduce and the stray animal population will be stable and then decline. Besides the effectiveness aspect, the TNR strategy is more humane than the trap and remove strategy.The rights of living of the stray animal would not be harmed in TNR practice.In the trap and remove practice, trapped animals with no owner have to adopt Euthanasia. Although the trapped animals would not feel pain throughout the Euthanasia, they lost their life unnaturally. Conclusion Although the TNR strategy is more effective in managing the stray animal population, it cannot help to solve the nuisance brought by the stray animal in the short term. However, the trap and remove strategy can remove the stray animal and their related nuisance from the community immediately. This, therefore, make the TNR programme less acceptable in society.The TNR programme has been adopted by many other countries, like Britan and the USA, and result in declination of the stray animal population. It is suggested that education and promotion of the TNR programme should be introduced to the public in Hong Kong. In conclusion, it is suggested that the Hong Kong government can replace the current practice by the TNR practice in order to solve the abandoned animal issue from basic

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