The Animal Disease Prevention and Veterinarian Bill will not ban pet clinics from performing operations, but will not allow hospitalisations unless there is at least one vet standing by at the facility 24 hours a day, Choi U Fai, head of the Animal Control and Inspection Division of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), reaffirmed on Thursday.
Choi made the remarks during the second and last public consultation session for the bill.
The bureau is consulting the general public on the government-drafted bill until May 2. The bill classifies veterinary medical centres as hospitals or clinics, whereby a facility must have at least three full-time vets in order to qualify as a pet hospital. Only veterinary hospitals would be allowed to hospitalise animals, according to the bill.
During the session, several audience members said they were worried that vets in clinics would not be allowed to perform specialised operations, and that there would be very few qualified hospitals available to local pet owners.
Choi said although the bill would not ban clinics from performing operations, certain kinds of operations require hospitalisation afterwards, and clinics would not be able to provide the service.
“This is to guarantee that animals can get immediate medical care during their stay in hospital,” said Choi.
He pointed out that there are 20 animal medical care centres in the city, with seven having at least three full-time vets, whereas 17 say that they can provide hospitalisations.
An audience member who introduced himself as a pet shop owner questioned why the bill would ban pet shops from providing animal boarding services as well, as both facilities have similar requirements according to the bill.
IACM Administrative Committee member Ung Sau Hong, who also addressed the session, said the main concern of the related regulation was to prevent contagious diseases among animals in pet shops and animal boarding centres.
Choi also pointed out that only seven out of 67 pet-related facilities in the city are both selling pets and providing board in the same facility.
According to Ung, the bureau will publish a wrap-up after the consultation period. She said the vet bill was scheduled to be submitted to the legislature for debate and vote in 2018 or 2019.