Tuesday 30th June: Live or let die

I have a hard time starting today’s blog.  It’s not writer’s block, more a combination of being tired and sad.  I had a meeting last night which ended quite late, and finding a sampan after about 10pm isn’t easy. When I eventually got home it was to find that several dogs had obviously been eating dead fish from the beach and had subsequently vomited the stinking content of their stomachs all over the place.  By the time I’d cleaned up the mess and got all the dogs in, it was 1.30am, well past my normal bed time.  This morning I’m up at 5am as usual.

 Yesterday started badly when I got a call from a woman who had adopted two dogs from HKDR.  One was a small dog, young and cute, and the other was a bog-standard mongrel pup.  The woman told me that they were moving back to Canada and leaving their apartment THAT DAY, and while she had found a home for the small dog, she would be coming by to “return” the now-adult mongrel.  I told her I was too angry to be able to continue the conversation and hung up.  I warned the kennel staff that she might just turn up with the dog, and sure enough she did, but not before she had tried to have the dog put to sleep at SPCA across the road.  To his credit, the vet refused to do so.  This woman even told Mark, our dog trainer, that she was considering just leaving the dog in the park but didn’t think it was “fair”.  I had said that we would (reluctantly) accept the dog but that we would require an adequate donation for doing so.  The woman left, saying she would think about it, and didn’t come back.  So where is the dog now?  I checked with AFCD, thinking that she may simply have walked the short distance from our own kennels to surrender the dog (for free).  No, not there.  Maybe she took it to another vet who would agree to kill her pet, or maybe she had indeed just dumped the dog in a park. I have no idea.

 I check my emails and find an anonymous comment on my blog. “Do you know there are too many dogs at the kennels?”.  Of course I have heard this many times before, and I wonder if people think I am deaf, blind and/or stupid not to be fully aware that there are too many dogs for the space we have.  I wonder too if the writer of this comment has any idea of what doing this work is like, and the number of dogs I have to turn away every day, and the constant worry and stress.  Only those who actually do this work can understand the everyday pressure.  “Please save my dog” is like an echo in my head.  So many dogs, innocent lives, their fate in my hands.  A yes or a no means life or death to them.  Does the anonymous writer of the comment think that I enjoy living as I do?   That I feel anything but pure frustration and anger when someone like the woman mentioned just turns up with her dog thinking she can simply return it like a library book?  That seeing the dogs at AFCD, knowing that those I don’t choose will die in a very short time, doesn’t make me feel sick every time I have to do it?

 Anonymous, I didn’t choose this life.  I fell into it by chance, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it.   I have often thought about that day when I walked into AFCD for the first time and saw the dogs there, at that time with no chance of getting out other than in a black plastic bag.  What would my life be like now had I just ignored them and and walked away? 

 To date HKDR has saved around three thousand dogs, almost all of them taken from AFCD and certain death.  If you look at the official figure of ten thousand dogs destroyed by AFCD last year,  the number that has been saved is a drop in the ocean, but does that mean its not worth the struggle?  Should I turn a blind eye to the lovely dog with the wagging tail because we are already full?  What fault is that of the dog?  HKDR is a No Kill organisation, and No Kill means just that.  If I start to say no, condemning the dogs to die, then we are no longer No Kill, rather Killing by Proxy.  

The day that I become so hardened and cynical that I’m able to pass a dog by and simply say sorry, no space, is the day I’ll give up this work. Until then, to all the Anonymous people out there who only see chaos when others like me see life, I’ll carry on.

To help us save more dogs’ lives, click here to make a donation.


17 Responses to “Tuesday 30th June: Live or let die”

  1. Norma M Says:

    It is so hard for you but we the volunteers are there for you and our dogs and we will continue to support you in any way possible.
    It would be a big weight off our shoulders if we could find a really nice premises, one where we did have more room for the dogs but until then we have to make do as best we can.
    To those that just treat these poor loving creatures as a commodity to be disposed of when it suits them will unfortunately never change. Once a selfish attitude always a selfish attitude.

  2. Susan Says:

    While everybody has a right to voice out his/her point of view, I wish people like Anonymous make an effort to research and understand the bigger picture before hastily pointing out the obvious. The kennels are indeed getting crowded, but the dogs are being cared for with genuine love (mostly by volunteers who are not paid to be nice to the dogs) and within the best possible resources HKDR can provide. Anonymous, can you imagine what could have happened to these innocent lives had they not ended up in HKDR? Or are you too scared to dig deeper and dare to only scratch the surface of a profound issue?

  3. ken cheung Says:


    Never mind about the adverse or silly comments. You have been doing a right and honourable thing to save the dogs. You have far more people’s support than you know, although many may not come out to say so. We all do have high respect and admiration for your work.

  4. linda Says:

    Sally, Thank you for this courageous entry. I too have heard many many make direct or indirect comments regarding the “too many dogs problem” at HKDR.

    But when I hear about dogs thrown away in trash, beaten, abused, and abandoned, I feel ill. And when I hear about the life-death decisions you make at AFCD, I feel horrible for the dogs, and my heart aches for you. Who among us would not choose to have “too many dogs” when this is the situation?

    To “Anonymous”, I would like to say that it’s time to stop pointing at the all-too-obvious problem and it’s time to start doing something proactive about it. So Anonymous, figure out how to raise more money so the kennels can expand, figure out how to get more dogs into good homes, figure out how to educate potential adopters on positive training methods and lifelong commitment.

    Too many dogs? Anonymous — I ask you, what are YOU doing to help?

  5. Angela Says:

    You are an incredible woman and I really admire what you have been doing. But sometimes I would think what would I have done if I were put in your situation…. Seeing an abused animal really makes me want to kill the master, and knowing so many animals being abandoned because of stupid and irresponsible reasons really drives me nuts… But does it ever come across your mind that maybe, just maybe you could be making it a bit too easy for these SOBs. No matter how angry you are ,they could just leave the animals with you knowing that a very good woman is going to take care of their dogs?
    I believe that these people would never learn a lesson and they would just keep on doing it. I think every human being should be responsible for the outcome of their decision. From the day they take the dog home, they should be prepared to see it to the very end. If they desire to put the dog down, maybe they could but just be reminded that they have actually killed a life that was totally devoted and dependent on them.
    Sally, I hope I haven’t upset you. These are just thoughts that I have in my head. Well, what can I say? There really aren’t that many selfless person like you out there.

    • Sally Says:

      Angela, I agree with you. I do tell many people who want to abandon their dogs that they should have the courage to take the dog to the vet and see it being killed. But AFCD offer a very easy alternative which is out of sight, out of mind. Simply hand your dog over and no questions asked. Ultimately it’s the dogs that suffer when I get so angry with the owners that they choose instead to dispose of their pets in another way. Whichever way you deal with it, the dogs are the losers.

  6. Sheila McClelland Says:

    Moving back to Canada … why can’t she take her dogs with her? What do you bet she is taking her shoes and bags and all the inanimate things she cares about? Why did she adopt the dogs in the first place if she was going to shirk her responsibility and dump them? It is cruel to the dogs and to you. She expected you to take the dogs back and when you show the emotion which drives you to save lives you she punishes you by withholding information.

    On the second point. Anonymous clearly has no idea of the scale of the suffering and killing. To make this observation displays a disturbing ignorance of the situation for HK’s companion animals. This person must go to the AFCD kennels, must witness the killing of delightful healthy animals, and must choose who will live or die.

    Anonymous, and all the rest of us, knows that the dogs are not homeless because of you or HKDR. They are not being bred or multiplying in some way. They are all individuals who have been saved. My hope is that this comment is not a criticism but a saddened, heartfelt observation leading to a commitment to fight to change the killing system, to help organizations like HKDR to reduce the number by spay and neuter, breeding controls and education.

    Sally, you are truly a good person for caring in the way you do and taking action in the face of constant negative response and carping. This applies to the team who works with you too to help the animals. With any luck others will be encouraged to act, we can all make a difference in whatever area of compassion and justice moves us.

    • Sally Says:

      Thanks, Sheila, for your support (and to everyone else who has also left their comments). You know as much as I do what living this life is like.

      I’m boosted by knowing that while Anonymous is certainly not alone in his/her views, I believe there are far more people who would rather deal with the overcrowding than see the dogs die. We have a great team at HKDR and everyone puts their heart and soul into the work. That’s what it’s all about. Thank you everyone.

  7. Ling Says:

    Sally, there are not alot of people as brave as you to commit to doing what you have done in setting up HKDR. There are the selfish people who exploit that to their ‘convenience’ and the negative ignorant people who simply point their finger. Anonymous, how about just a simple ‘well done, and keep up the good work???’ 3,000 dogs saved at HKDR is 3,000 less killed at AFCD. The dogs would rather live in overcrowding and HAPPY than die a statistic.

    Looks like the people at AFCD has simply given up, and it is basically a slaughter house. Like alot of comments left on HK Discuss (local chat forum), the AFCD has a really bad name. no one wants to send lost animals to AFCD because it will be sure like personally sending the animals to the gas chambers.

    The canadian expat really makes me angry! Your mentaluty- you are not fit to have pets.

  8. ellis kreuger Says:

    Anonymous’ comments seem to come from ignorance and to a greater degree callousness. Character traits you never see in dogs ! Three cheers for HKDR for the amazing job they do while at the same time at a a very high personal sacrifice to themselves which few of us here in Hong Kong are willing to do.
    As people have mentioned in the other comments. It is better to have a home than no home at all. Crowded or not. And certainly better than being killed. I don’t think Anonymous or anyone like that could make that choice of who gets a second chance at life every week, rain or shine. HKDR does. And for the people who think any pet is disposable. I hope there is indeed a special punishment waiting for them in whatever is after this.

  9. Foster Wong Says:

    “……. I do tell many people who want to abandon their dogs that they should have the courage to take the dog to the vet and see it being killed……”

    Sally, I will tell the same next time I hear anyone who want to give up their dogs.

    Just a quick note that we volunteers will always support you!

  10. Dorothy Says:

    Sally, what you have been doing is great and courageous. You will always have the support from the volunteers and I truly admire what you have done. Even though there are many dogs in the kennels, every dogs there are being loved by all the volunteers. Most important of all, they are still alive and they still have a chance to find a permanent and loving home, just look at Renee and many others that were homed before her.

  11. Denvy Says:

    Thanks for this insightful blog piece. The more I read, the more I understand the relentless drive you have. There are times when I go to the kennels and I wonder how we are making a difference, especially with the number of dogs coming in faster and quicker than the number of dogs being adopted. But now I know! 3000 dogs saved? That’s just amazing. Yes it is but a drop ina bucket but your selfless altruism for the welfare of these dogs is admirable and is what makes us volunteers continue to help!

    Keep it up, Sally. There will always be “anonymous” in every aspect of our lives, every charity, every good cause, every silver lining. But it will be people like you who will make a real difference in our lives (and the dogs’ lives, of course).

  12. Louisa Says:

    Sally, we love and respect the energy and love you and all the volunteers put into HKDR.

    Remember those who support you and march though those who stand in your way.

  13. Mandy Chu Says:

    sally, hope the encouragement from the above can give you the power to keep doing this great job! you are not only changing dogs’ lives, but also for our lives! we can teach others and show others what is the way to respect lives. For so many happy ending stories I have seen, I understand how is your work worth to be……

    sally, encourgement is not only from the above, for all the volunteers would like to say thank you from all of our hearts, thank you sally!

  14. Heyli Says:

    Sally, We can’t control what people say. I’m sure nobody is free and can happily manage the kennel. Everyone spends 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, working for, worrying about and stressing over the kennel. Nobody understands. No dog rescue centre ever wants to continue increasing its number of dogs. It is a SOCIAL problem. Rather than questioning the kennel, why don’t we look at why there so many pet shops, why so many people breed dogs, why so many people buy dogs from Mainland China, why so many people abandon their dogs….

  15. Brian Lai Says:


    To the woman who moved back to Canada and abandoned her dog, and to the countless others who have abandoned or mistreated their pets, you make we regret that we human beings are the highest in the animal pecking order; yet despite all the supposedly intelligence we possess, all you did was to exert pain and suffering to the animals that you once had a heart to adopt.

    We have taken our dog to Canada twice and all it takes is a certificate of health from your vet to enter Canada without quarantine. Is that too much of a bother for you? Is the price of two excessive piece of luggage the airline charges per kennel too expensive a cost? Are the lives of animals you once had a heart to adopt now become worthless? I wish people like you will one day end up on the receiving end on how you treated your animals – be left in the park when you’re old and helpless.

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