Today is a very sad day to see the closing of the Wanchai Pet Promenade. This project was a fantastic example of a progressive District Council working with an NGO to bring about something so unique and incredibly popular. What the Wanchai District Council has demonstrated to Hong Kong is that a pet accessible park can be a huge community asset. Not only did they have the courage to try something new, but they listened and refined what they had, always seeking ways to improve it. Its closure is an immense loss to the Northern side of Hong Kong.
What the Wanchai Promenade demonstrated most clearly was that such a facility not only benefits the animals but also the people, both the animal owning and non-animal owning. An SPCA survey taken in the Promenade which has pet accessibility and the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade on the other side of the harbour, which doesn’t allow pets, was a surprise to us all. What we found was that when people visited the Wanchai Promenade, a staggering 78% stated that they had social interaction with other human beings. When we asked the same question in Tsim Sha Tsui a tiny 6% said that they ever spoke to another person when they visited the no animal facility. There is no doubt that animals have the ability to bring us humans together.
We sincerely hope that this excellent model can be copied all over Hong Kong, however one point I need to make clear is that SPCA is not in favour of Pet Parks, but rather parks that allow Pet Access – but with this comes a large responsibility on the part of the Pet Owner. We are continually dismayed and disgusted when we visit parks in areas like Jordon and Yaumatei where we see these public facilities ruined by animal urine and faeces. What hope do the responsible pet owners have of improving their facilities for the community while the irresponsible view these facilities purely as a toilet area? The key to animals gaining acceptance and co-existing in our community is certainly responsible pet ownership and until we clean up our act we can’t blame the non animal owning public for putting up barriers. If people needed to see animal owners behaving responsibly, the Wanchai Promenade was the place to look!
Meanwhile we are continuing our lobbying efforts for our animal companions to gain access to appropriate community spaces.