Thurs 8th April: An important day

Based on a recent comment on Facebook (that it must be fun working with lovely doggies every day), I imagine that it’s hard to understand what my daily life is like, or what running HKDR actually involves.  Regular readers of my blog will know that it’s not just about going to AFCD to save dogs, or even being directly involved with them on a daily basis. It’s really more like running a business, but one that is emotionally charged and motivated.

Today I had a hastily arranged meeting with the Senior Veterinary Officer (SVO) of AFCD, which included the Veterinary Officer (VO) of the Kowloon AFCD Animal Management Centre and Flora Ho, sharpei lover and one of the original founders of Companion Animal Federation.  This meeting came about because of a case last week involving a sharpei that HKDR had been asked to get out from AFCD by a member of the public, and which Flora had offered to foster.  The sharpei died just hours after its release, and the story came to the attention of Apple Daily who subsequently published it, and an enquiry as to what actually happened is now underway. (I have just heard that the story has also been covered in today’s SCMP).

After many years of taking dogs from the AFCD kennels in Pokfulam, and less frequently from the three other centres, I have learned that building relationships and saving dogs is far more effective and rewarding than criticising and making trouble.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been times when I have been very upset and angry about individual cases and incidents, or that I don’t think the whole department and system needs a major overhaul and a giant kick up the backside. 

I share the frustration that all of the animal welfare organisations feel at the lack of progress regarding the implementation of stricter controls over the number of dogs being bred, sold and imported when there are so many unwanted animals dying every year.  We all want to see TNR (trap, neuter and return) introduced as a way of controlling the stray dog population rather than the current catch and kill system, which is random, inhumane and ineffective. 

On one previous occasion, when Apple Daily have ran a negative story about a dog at the Pokfulam AFCD Centre, the result was catastrophic for HKDR and the dogs, even though we had nothing to do with that particular case.  Gates were closed and shutters drawn, and all re-homing stopped.  It was only through the intervention of the then-executive director of SPCA that I was able to resume taking dogs out, but those that died in the meantime were the innocent victims of that particular incident.

So today’s meeting was very important, as the last thing I wanted was for history to repeat itself and more dogs die as a result.  Happily the SVO at that time has since moved to another department, and in his place I found a totally different person, and not just because she’s a woman.  As a result, rather than leaving the meeting feeling angry and frustrated, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that there is at last a chance that something will be done, and changes made (although I know they will be slow as this is still, after all, a government department).  Most of all, I believe that dogs’ lives won’t be used as pawns and punishment, the outcome I most feared.  The name of the new SVO is Dr Michelle Yeung, and I sincerely hope that moving forward I will be able to report that good things are happening thanks to her.

Another issue that is taking up most of my time, thoughts and energy right now is that of the impending move from Pokfulam, and the land at Tung Chung that we had thought would be the location of the new HKDR Homing Centre. Based on a report from Lands Department received last week, which included comments from other departments such as AFCD (as their conservation section) and the Environmental Protection Department, it now seems highly unlikely that we will be able to use this site for the dogs, and I doubt it can be used for anything except as a home for fish and butterflies.  Of course we are all devastated by this report at such a late stage in the proceedings, and even though the architect and environmental experts helping HKDR have been trying to keep any negative impact to the land to an absolute minimum, it seems it won’t be enough.

Now we are once again looking at the real prospect of having to leave Pokfulam without having anywhere to move to.  I have been out searching for any possible alternatives, but at this late stage it’s very hard.  We had previously found a lovely piece of land that was for sale only (they won’t rent), but we don’t have the $9 to $10 million needed to buy, as well as the further few million to build.  Right now I think we are all just praying for a rich angel to drop by.

I have to add an update on Jay, the dog lost at the airport just before he was due to fly to the UK with his owner, Claire, to start their new lives. Jay is still missing, and I know everyone is hoping and praying that this nightmare will soon be over for both Claire and Jay.  The story is in today’s SCMP Cityseen section, and there is now a $15,000 reward being offered.  Hopefully this will motivate more people to go out looking. (And to the angry person who called the kennels yesterday complaining about my version of the story on this blog, tough).

As always, I like to end on a happy note and this time it’s about Apple, the dog that was the subject of another Apple Daily video story as she was being rescued by firemen.  Apple is now doing very well in her new home, a testament once again to the amazing strength of dogs in situations that seem overwhelming, and the dedication of many dogs lovers, in this case Jessie and Ricky.  I honestly never thought that I would see Apple like this, at least not as soon as only a few days after she was taken from AFCD as a quivering wreck.

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5 Responses to “Thurs 8th April: An important day”

  1. Goldenhusky Says:

    totally agree with u we just want to save more dogs in AFCD, don’t slow down yr action….

    Support u, Sally!

  2. India Says:

    The news about Tung Chung is huge. You have been so excited in your blog about plans for the new site. I’m sure your comment regarding being devastated is an understatement.

    It sounds like a crisis may be looming. What can supporters of HKDR do to help? What does HDKR need right now?

    • Sally Says:

      Thanks India.
      More than anything else we need land to build a new centre, which has to be accessible to both volunteers and adopters. Even better, if we can find someone who has the money to buy (or to donate to HKDR so we can buy) the land we have already found, that would be amazing. It would be so good to know that any money or effort put into bulding a new Homing Centre wouldn’t be wasted or lost if we had to move again in a few years. We never forget that everything we have has come from donations, and we have to spend that money wisely.
      If the time comes when we have to leave Pokfulam and we still don’t have a new site, then we will have to see if we can find homes, foster or permanent, for the dogs currently living there. If you look at it, it’s not an impossible task. Seven million people and 170 dogs – there should be space for them all.

      • Pato Says:

        Dear Sally, under nowadays urgent and short time frame for the new home center, I suggest a quite strong and tough way that may push government dept to put more effort assist HKDR and look serious on this case; you may call the newspaper reporter e.g. Apply daily and SCMP and let them know our recent hard situation, let them publish HKDR story and our aims on newspaper, make every individual HK people aware about this, it may give pressure to government and may also to awaken all HK people about how HK city/government care about abandon dog issue, also may help HKDR raise fund……… I think.

      • Sally Says:

        We have been asking the government (Lands Department) for help for 3 years. All sites shown to us have not been suitable, and all government leases are short-term anyway. They may be extended or they may not. It depends if the land is needed for any other projects. We will continue looking, but Government land takes time as all departments must be consulted and approve.
        SCMP have covered the story, as have Apple Daily and many other publications, and I hope that SCMP will be running an updated story this week. Let’s see.

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