Thurs 22nd April: Why HKDR exists

Although the focus of every day is now on getting dogs into homes and preparing for the Big Move, the very reason that HKDR and other animals rescue organisations exist should never be forgotten.  I started HKDR because I saw the dogs at AFCD waiting for their execution date with no hope of ever getting out other than in a black plastic bag.  Although re-homing from the government Animal Managment Centres has become a less complicated procedure, ther number of dogs that turn up at these kennels every single day is staggering.

Fleets of vans leave the four centres every day on their way to various locations around Hong Kong and the New Territories to pick up any dog that is found, whether or not it is wearing a collar and seems to belong to someone.  The friendly ones are the easiest targets, and these are the dogs that I ususall end up taking for re-homing.  They aren’t microchipped and are what I call “semi-owned” meaning they are attached to a place and are fed there, but don’t officially belong to someone.

Nobody wants to see stray dogs, and there are so many out there that the numbers would be impossible to even estimate. Pets that have been abandoned and have managed to survive form packs that roam the countryside, breeding as they go. They are considered to be pests and vermin, a danger to the community, but who put them there in the first place?  Did these dogs choose to live a (short) life like that, scavenging for every piece of food, being hunted, trapped and killed?

The government can’t be blamed for the the dog owners who continue to dump their pets like garbage, not microchipped and certainly not desexed, but they must take responsibility for refusing to look at any alternatives to the current and outdated system which is so obviously not working.  In the days when these laws fisrt came into effect, the situation was nothing like it is today.  Few people kept dogs as pets, so those that ended up at AFCD were genuine strays or feral dogs.  Now there is everything, like the six month old Japanese spitz that I took from AFCD the other day.  She was found on the street, dumped and left to her fate which, lucky for her, was with HKDR where she will find a nice home.

Along with other government departments, AFCD have recently been audited and the results are predictable and depressing. For summary, please click here.

And here’s an article from SCMP on the same lines:

Subject: Government money wasted on Catch and Kill

South China Morning Post Article

22nd April 2010
“81 pc of animal management budget spent rounding up stray dogs and cats; catchers need 83 operations to round up 20 strays. $230 million for bridges and subways to nowhere; one subway unused for 20 years, except by street sleepers. 78pc of post offices losing money – $117 million a year. Orchestra spends $976,000 on drums, and another $617,000 to store those it doesn’t need. It spends another $830,000 on tickets for its own concerts to give away. $32 million paid to Eco Park managers over three years, yet not one tenant has moved in. And that’s just scratching the surface of a $200 billion-a-year budget …

More than half of the city’s 317,000 dog licences have expired and not been renewed but anima! l officers have been unable to enforce the licensing rules, which tens of thousands of dog owners could have already breached, the latest audit report says.
More than 177,000 licences, which are valid for three years, had expired by the end November last year. A total of 91,000 dogs aged 10 years or over are believed to have died, meaning up to 86,000 remain unlicensed.
Dog licences, which cost HK$80 from government-designated centres, can only be renewed when a dog is revaccinated against rabies, so these unlicensed dogs could pose a potential threat.

Under the Rabies Regulation, all dogs aged over five months must be micro-chipped, vaccinated and licensed. Breach of the rules can lead to a maximum fine of HK$10,000.

But the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has prosecuted only about 1,000 dog owners for the offence in the past two years.

The government’s audit report on control of pets found a trial scheme operated by the department since M! arch 29 to visit dog owners, urging them to renew their licences, had been a failure, with only three out of 105 owners pledging to renew.

The department has been asked to consider issuing renewal reminders to owners, and to explore ways to make it easier for them to report the deaths of their dogs.

The report also draws public attention to resources being used to control stray dogs and cats. About HK$30 million a year is spent on catching about 12,000 to 13,000 strays and putting down nearly 90 per cent of them. The spending accounts for 81 per cent of the department’s animal management division budget.

The report said catching stray animals was costly, and up to 83 operations had been conducted at the same location in North Point after repeated complaints of stray dogs killing cats. Because of the resources involved, the report asked the department to consider if outsourcing was viable.

But Sandy Macalister, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said there could be an alternative to the capture-and-cull approach. “We agree with the government that the stray dogs problem has to be eliminated, but not through killings but by natural wastage,” he said.

Macalister said they were close to introducing trials on “TNR” – trap, neuter and release – and officials had shown increasing interest in this.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Audit Commission found up to one in four pet shops in an unnamed street were not licensed, as were four out of five boarding establishments in another.

The audit also quoted an SPCA survey involving 207 animals being treated at vets’ clinics from late 2006 to mid-2009 which found 72 per cent of the dogs became sick within a week of being bought from pet shops.

It called on the department to increase fines for the unlicensed pet trade to HK$100,000 from HK$2,000, which is lower than the licensing fees of between HK$2,600 and HK$3,800″.

Back to where we’re at now, there is just one week left until we leave Pokfulam for good and move to our temporary site at Tai Po.  I have been asked for the address by many volunteers, but until the lease agreement has been signed and we officially take over the property, it’s better that details aren’t released.  It will only be a day or so until it will all be made public.

The search for a long-term, or permanent, home for HKDR continues without a break, and we are still in need of funds to build once we find that place.  The Tai Po site was a real gift, and we’re all immensely grateful, but we can’t relax and think that this is it.  It’s just breathing space, and a safe temporary home for the dogs that we can fit in.  So please keep the donations coming, and join us at our next evening event next Wednesday 28th:


8 Responses to “Thurs 22nd April: Why HKDR exists”

  1. Ling Says:

    To think that my tax money is going towards paying AFCD to kill all those cats and dogs is shocking! Its indiscriminate mass killing and Its clear that its not working in population control- its like throwing money into Victoria Harbour (not just from gambling)!! The government should offer FREE rabies shot to encourage people to licence their pets and renewal- surely this is a better way to control possible rabies outbreak what with pet imports from China that most pet shops must be getting their ‘stock’ from. And why do people still buy pets from pet shops/ local breeders? Breeders dont necessarily mean any better. It frustrates me still, despite spreading the word about adoption amongst my friends, as well as seeing how lovely mine is (adopted from HKDR) – their ultimate excuse still is ‘they went looking but couldnt find the breed they want’… Education is still much needed. If only they would see pets as living animals with soul- and not a brand…

  2. Pet Nutritionist Ching Ching Says:

    It’s just upsetting after reading the auditing report.
    It’s certainly AFCD/ govt fault for not prosecuting unlicensed pet-selling shops & people who abandoned their pets. These people should be prosecuted, heavily fined & even imprisoned. Along w/ public ads & education, hopefully there will be less unwanted pets on the street.

    However, if the source of unwanted pets is not controlled, even TNR can’t solve the stray problem. It’s like you’re trying to pump water out while the tap is fully turned on.

    Sally, is there a way to suggest to the HK govt to use DNA instead of microchips to trace pet ownership? Each animal’s DNA is linked to his/her human guardian’s HKID for the lifetime, unless official document has been submitted & approved to change of ownership.

    DNA is so much easier to get than microchip, it doesn’t need to be specially implanted. Just a thought.

    • Sally Says:

      There are many simple ways to improve the licensing statistics that I can think of:
      1. Any dog brought to see a vet that doesn’t have a license must be microchipped and licensed on the spot
      2. Any dog (brought to a vet) whose license has expired must automatically be given a rabies shot and license update
      3. There should be random checks on all dogs the same way that there are random drink-drive checks on drivers
      4. All construction sites, industrial sites, boatyards and work places that keep dogs must have licenses for all of the dogs
      5. No puppies (animals) should be allowed to be sold over the internet
      6. Anyone surrendering a dog to AFCD that is not licensed will have to pay a surrender fee
      7. Pet shops must keep records of all puppies sold (and all puppies must be microchipped of course)
      8. Any pet shop found selling puppies without chips should instantly be closed
      9. Pet shops selling sick puppies should be closed (3 complaints and that’s it)
      10. Ban hobby breeding that has no way of being controlled
      11. Increase fines for all violations that really act as a deterrent
      12. AFCD should support animal rescue organisations and/or allow direct homing from their centres

      I could go on for ever, but that’s a start.

  3. Teresa Says:

    Hi Sally,

    A friend’s friend, Mrs. So have a piece of land near the border (Kam Tin I think), 10’s thousand square feet I was told, she is a Christian, have been accomodation some 10 of stray dogs already.

    Potentially, her site can be a Dog Rescue location (she still have 9 year lease for that piece of land).

    Wonder if it would be helpful to relocate / accomodate the 100’s of dogs you are trying to get adopted due to the relocation recently. She is open to discussion if you are interested.

    Let me know if you want her contact …


  4. Madelaine Gomez Says:

    Totally agree with Ling – especially the last sentence.

  5. Phillip Chiu Says:

    Hi Sally,

    Where exactly in Tai Po is the new home for Dog Rescue? I live in Tai Po and can offer some help.

    Best of luck


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