HONG KONG, Jan 9 (AP) -- Thousands of animal lovers took to Hong Kong's streets with their dogs and cats Sunday, urging the government to strengthen legislation against animal cruelty.
Organizers said about 5,000 people took part in the march from a downtown public square to Hong Kong's government headquarters, with many walking with their dogs and some pushing their pets in carts.
"Stand up for life!" read a banner held by several lawmakers leading the rally.
Protest organizer David Wong, founder of Hong Kong animal rights group Animal Earth, said current legislation against animal abuses are outdated. Offenders face up to six months in prison and a maximum fine of 5,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$640; €530) if convicted of animal cruelty.
Wong called on the government to increase the penalties to up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,410; €5,310).
Stella Hung, director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, said authorities face difficulties in successfully prosecuting those who abuse animals, but that the government is considering strengthening legislation.