Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon said on Friday that he had reservations about a claim by the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) earlier last week that feeding strays equate with abandoning animals.
Cheong made the remarks during a regular Executive Council press conference on Friday when asked by a reporter about the bureau’s recent remarks on feeding strays.
Last Thursday, Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) President José Tavares reaffirmed the government’s position that it is illegal to feed strays, warning that those who feed strays face hefty fines. He added that his bureau equates stray feeders with animal owners, pointing out that animal owners are prohibited from abandoning their animals and animal abandonment is punishable by a fine ranging between MOP 20,000 and MOP 100,000.
Cheong, whose portfolio also oversees the city’s municipal affairs, said at the press conference that he had reservations about Tavares’ remarks, adding that he would ask the bureau to examine the matter “extensively”.
Cheong noted that according to the Animal Protection Law, abandoning animals is illegal. He pointed out that in order to determine whether one’s action is considered illegal depends on objective and subjective components of the case. He added that if a person who is not the owner of the strays provides food and water for them and his or her intention is to help and protect them, it was “hard to say” that they abandoned the animals.
When reporters asked whether it is against the intention of protecting animals if the bureau humanely euthanises the stray animals that were captured and not adopted, Cheong replied that the way the bureau handles stray animals has “sufficient basis”, adding that the problem might not be solved by implementing the “trap-neuter-return” (TNR) approach implemented by other jurisdictions.
Cheong also said that the government and the city’s animal protection groups will communicate more often and cooperate on plans on how to promote animal protection. He also urged residents to think twice before getting a pet, adding that once one has decided to get one, it is a life-long responsibility.