Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) President José Tavares has reaffirmed the government’s position that it is illegal to feed strays, warning that stray feeders face hefty fines.
Tavares issued the warning in a letter sent late last month to non-establishment lawmaker Sulu Sou Ka Ho, who released its content earlier this week, in response to a letter Sou had sent him in July about animal protection issues.
In his letter, Sou had urged Tavares to take a trap-neuter-return (TNR) approach when dealing with stray animals.
Tavares underlined in his reply that it was difficult to recapture strays which had undergone the TNR measure for follow-up care, pointing out that even after the TNR procedure the animals would still face hunger, injury, disease, and lack of shelter. He also said that the post-TNR release of strays could have a negative impact on residential communities and the natural environment. Tavares insisted that right now the appropriate conditions for TNR in Macao did not exist.
Animal protection activists worldwide say that TNR programmes are the most humane and effective way to manage stray animal populations, free-roaming domestic cats in particular.
The IAM president also said that his bureau had issued penalties concerning 2,739 animal cruelty cases between September 2016, when the Animal Protection Law took effect, and July this year.
Tavares noted that since last year, about 70 per cent of captured strays had later been adopted by new owners or been reclaimed by their original owners. He also said that many residents have not only been feeding strays for a long time but even obstructed IAM workers’ attempts to catch strays, thereby jeopardising the bureau’s animal welfare efforts as well as public security and hygiene.
According to Tavares, 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.