If you are the legal guardian of a child and you assault, abuse, neglect or abandon that child, you will be heavily punished by the law. You will probably spend a long time in prison. Of course, this is the way things should be.
However, the same rules don't seem to apply if you let animals suffer. There was a recent case where a dog shelter owner left the animals unattended, causing 20 dogs to die.
The offender was sentenced to only 160 hours of community service and ordered to pay a HK$1,000 fine. To me, this doesn't seem fair.
Every dog lover who heard about this case will have been saddened. Dogs may just be pets to some of us, but they are also our best and most loyal friends. The government needs to impose tougher penalties on those who harm animals.
Lily Tse, Kowloon True Light School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Lily. I know many readers will disagree with me when I say that there is no way a dog's life can equal that of a human being, but this is a fact in the eyes of the law. Animal protection laws will always lag behind protection laws for people, probably because it's people who make the laws.
It seems in this case - Ng Ka Tsuen Dog Shelter in Kam Tin, where 20 animals died of neglect - the person involved was just overwhelmed by the number of animals she had tried to look after.
That is not uncommon in other parts of the world. People start out with good intentions, but things begin to spiral out of control when there is no money to take the animals to the vet to be desexed, so they continue to breed. The consequences are often tragic and horrific, as they were in this case.