Who let the dogs in?

Uproar as the FEHD enforces regulations on dogs sitting at the table with their owners at restaurants.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.12.10 PM

Dogs sitting on chairs and even eating at the same table as their owners at restaurants has become a regular sight in Sai Kung. And some people aren’t happy about it.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has cracked down on one of Sai Kung’s favourite haunts, Steamers, which has received warnings from the department. “We don’t mind when customers bring in their pets when they dine at Steamers, but there are regulations that we have to abide by,” says Marciel, Steamers’ Assistant Manager. However, when it comes to the seafood restaurants along the waterfront where dogs are often seen at the table with their owners, no warning has been enforced. A local resident echoes, “the law is quite clear – no dogs in restaurants, including outdoor areas. The problem in Sai Kung is that the law is not uniformly enforced and not at all at the promenade seafood restaurants.”

Section 10B of the Food Business Regulation (Cap. 132X) stipulates that no person shall bring any dogs onto any food premises (including kitchens, food rooms and indoor or outside seating accommodation of a restaurant). The regulation also specifies that no person engaged in any food business shall knowingly suffer or permit the presence of dogs on any food premises, unless the dogs are guide dogs for visually impaired persons or performing statutory duties. The FEHD reported that it has received approximately 20 complaints in relation to bringing dogs into eateries – including cafes, bars, and seafood restaurants – in the Sai Kung district since 2015.

“If customers do bring in dogs and they are within the licensed area, we will ask them to move their pets. We have to follow the rules otherwise we will get in trouble”, says Marciel.

The FEHD gives all establishments three warnings. Thereafter, the penalty comes at a hefty cost; a $10,000 ne and three months imprisonment. “We had problems with the FEHD last month, where our customers had two dogs in the outdoor area and coincidentally, of cers from the FEHD had come by to check.

They spoke to the customers and they gave us a warning”. The penalty includes cancelling the establishment’s outdoor license. Marciel adds, “it’s hard to reactivate the license once it has been revoked.”

Residents are not happy – some are venting their anger and frustration about the regulation online, whilst a handful of others are reporting violations they observe directly to the FEHD.

In response to the situation, a spokesperson from the FEHD replied, “FEHD will take enforcement action, including health education and advice, verbal warning or prosecution, against the offenders where appropriate.”

The FEHD made no comment when asked why there was a crackdown on Steamers and not the Chinese seafood restaurants along the Sai Kung waterfront. Seafood restaurants representatives also refused to answer when approached.

Have an opinion? Email us editorial@fastmedia.com.hk.