Having pets is very common in Hong Kong, but do all these pet owners realize the responsibility of taking care of an animal’s precious life? When people buy dogs, cats, and other pets from pet stores, do they know about all the other animals that need homes?
The problem of stray animals is serious in Hong Kong. According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) website, the government treats between 5,000 and 7,000 stray dogs every year. In 2011, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation treated 5,800 stray dogs and 3,557 stray cats.
Why are there so many wanderers? Animals can reproduce quickly. In a lifetime, a female dog can have about six litters, with an average of five to six puppies in each. Cats can healthily have one to two litters of up to 12 kittens at a time each year.
A one-year-old mongrel named Gaya at the headquarters of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Wan Chai. Photo: Jonathan Wong
Another reason for so many stray animals is that there are too few homes willing to take care of their pets. Domestic cats and dogs depend on humans for food, water, shelter, veterinary care and love. But not everyone considers their pet to be part of the family. When some people miss their pets or can’t take care of them anymore, they may throw them out on the street.
It’s infuriating. There are shelters to help these animals, and owners should never abandon them. Leaving a pet behind harms not only the animal, but also humans. Bites and scratches from stray dogs and cats can lead to health problems for us. When street dogs bark and fight, it can also be a disturbance for residents of these areas.
Pet breeders and sellers are major contributors to this crisis. Thanks to them, more puppies and kittens are being brought into a world that already lacks good homes for all the animals there are. They force their animals to breed litter after litter to ensure they have enough to sell in pet stores and make a profit.
Dogs ride high-speed train on ‘paw’ vacation
Puppies and kittens purchased from breeders or pet stores are often taken from their mothers at just a few weeks old, leaving them sickly and traumatized. This can lead to physical and mental health issues in the animal that many people can’t or won’t handle. When owners get tired of trying to deal with these issues, they may abandon their pets.
Owners need to understand that having a pet is like raising a child. They need patience, time and money. Therefore, if you want to have a pet, you should think twice. If you can’t promise to take care of your pet all its life, you shouldn’t bring it home. Instead, leave it to someone who can give the animal the love it deserves.
If a person wants to take on the responsibility of having a pet at home, they should adopt it instead of buying one. The SPCA website indicates that in 2011, only 852 dogs and 205 cats were taken in by animal welfare organizations. Most stray animals are put down if they cannot find a home.
Many organizations such as the SPCA have rescued healthy and cute pets for responsible owners to bring home. They can be your best friends and part of your family.
Over 130 kittens and puppies confiscated in Hong Kong’s largest smuggling pet seizure
Is commercial space travel necessary?
Javier Yee; Singapore International School
Ever since the Soviet Union sent the first man-made satellite into space in 1957, mankind has only become more interested in the universe that lies beyond our great blue planet. . In the years since the launch of Sputnik 1, our space travel technology has become considerably more advanced.
However, it is only in recent years that the hype surrounding commercial space travel has become so prominent.
Elon Musk, a multi-billionaire entrepreneur, popularized the concept through his company, SpaceX. The company designs, manufactures and launches spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making space travel less expensive. He is developing a reusable launch system.
SpaceX aims to allow ordinary people to travel in space without professional astronaut training. It is open to anyone who is willing to pay full price for a place.
Three wealthy businessmen and their escort of astronauts paid $55 million to visit the International Space Station. Photo: SpaceX via AP
Another multi-billionaire, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, offers a similar experience. During 11 minutes of space travel, his aerospace company, Blue Origin, auctioned off a ticket to his New Shepard spaceship for a whopping US$28 million (HK$219.70 million) – all for a taste of weightlessness and a breathtaking view of Mother Earth. This includes a few days of training as well as accommodation.
Other companies working on commercial space travel include Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Tickets for this suborbital space experience start at US$450,000 (HK$3.53 million) for around 90 minutes of flight time.
SpaceX completed its first all-civilian spaceflight last September. In April, the company launched three wealthy businessmen and their astronaut escort to the International Space Station, returning after a 17-day tour. The price of this experiment was 55 million US dollars.
Maybe one day space travel will be as easy and inexpensive as boarding an airplane.
Your voice: what would it take to colonize Mars and make it habitable?
Unfortunately, there are some consequences of commercial space travel that need to be considered. Some claim that it is incredibly harmful to our environment as it consumes a lot of fuel and resources, and it also creates potentially dangerous space debris.
Not to mention that we could use the money spent to help solve the many problems we have on Earth instead of escaping from them.
However, commercial space travel could eventually become a necessity. Our planet is becoming increasingly uninhabitable as climate change intensifies. Sea levels are rising and we are witnessing extreme weather conditions around the world. This trend is likely to continue. Our final, and most desperate, solution might be to seek another planet to live on.
Mars is the planet Musk has his eyes set on. In March, the SpaceX founder wrote on Twitter that he considered 2029 to be the earliest date humans could first walk on Mars. Commercial space travel could be the future.