Weds 28th April: The final party

Before starting on the following rant against the government and Lands Department, I have to (of course) talk about last night’s “Farewell to Pokfulam” party which took place at the Coyote Bar in Wanchai.  This was the last of the themed parties sponsored by the Eclipse Group, who have been hosting events for selected charities over the past couple of months as part of their “Giving Back” campaign.  Along with the two Pub Quizzes last week, the amount raised for HKDR totalled just over $100,000, a fantastic boost to our fundraising campaign to help build a new Homing Centre.  Huge thanks to the Eclipse Group, and to everyone who has helped on these evenings, including our amazing volunteer team, sponsors, and Jami Gong, the MC for last night’s party.  There are lots of photos already posted on our Facebook page, so check them out.

Our final Pokfulam party at Coyote in Wanchai

Those of you who have been following HKDR and our story over the past few years will know that we have been looking for a new kennel site for a long time.  We knew that we would have to leave Pokfulam at some point, and we didn’t want to end up in the situation that in fact almost happened, which was that we would have a leaving date and nowhere to go.  The Tai Po house and land that was offered to us at the last moment really was a lifesaver, even though it’s still only a temporary home.

I’m still being asked if we have approached Lands Department for help in finding a site, and I want to tell you this story so you will know exactly what it’s like dealing with the government departments, and why we are now concentrating only on private land.

When we first starting looking for a new site three years ago, asking for some government land seemed to be the obvious thing to do.  After all, there is vacant land all over the territory.  We were initally hoping that we could find somewhere on Hong Kong Island, and approached various District Offices asking if there was anything suitable.  We were told about several possibilities, and staff from Lands Department even came out with us one day to show us the sites.  Each one of them was either ridiculously unsuitable, and had already been reserved for a government department’s own use.  So we carried on looking. Over the three years of our search we have explored the whole of Hong Kong Island and much of the New Territories, including those places on the publicised Lands Department list of sites available to charities.  All of them are duds, believe me, at least for our use.

Some months ago, having met with so many brick walls and dead ends that I didn’t know where to even start looking again, I went back to one of the first sites that Lands Department had shown to us.  It had been dismissed at first because it was too close to a hospital, but quite by chance I was walking by and saw that the gate to the piece of land was open, and I decided to explore. I discovered that the land stretched right back into the country park, and was really beautiful and amazing. 

So I contacted Lands Department again and asked if the land was still available, which it was.  I arranged a site meeting, and although the actual piece of land marked as being one of those on “The List” was a laughable handkerchief size, I was told that in fact we could apply for as much land as we wanted, as it was all available.  I was so excited I forgot past disappointments and frustrations, and our volunteer architect started work on plans, taking into account the nearby hospital by keeping potential dog numbers to a minimum and using the many trees and other natural features as sound barriers. (Because of the hospital vicinity, this could never have been a full kennel facility).

To cut a long story short (because it really is long and bureaucratically tedious), after many changes and modifications to the initial drawings to satisfy all the objections from various government departments, today I received a letter saying that the site was earmarked by the hospital for its own expansion plans.  We have wasted so much time and energy on this site, not to mention the architect who had drawn and re-drawn plans and designs, as well as having done the same for the Tung Chung site.

What is there to say other than to anyone who suggest we contact Lands Department for any potential site, thanks but been there, done that, and bear the mental scars.

What a difference from the Tai Po arrangement which has taken only a matter of a week or so to see, accept and start to get ready for the dogs’ arrival.  I was there again in the afternoon to see how work was progressing, and trying to make a plan for Saturday when I will be the one meeting the dogs and deciding where they will go.  The volunteer clearing group have done an amazing job of getting rid of a lot of the undergrowth that was covering the terraced garden, although there is still a long way to go before the job is finished.  Contractors are busy putting up a dividing fence between the garden section and the entrance and driveway, so at least the dogs won’t be able to access the gate and disappear into the hills.  There are two outdoor huts which are being repaired and enclosed, so at least we have some extra space outside the big house to accomodate a few more dogs.  It’s all coming together, and although there will still be a lot of stuff to do even after the move this weekend, at least it will be there are ready for us.  The response from volunteers has been nothing short of a miracle, and I can’t wait for you all to see the place and to be part of it all.  Thanks guys, you are amazing!

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3 Responses to “Weds 28th April: The final party”

  1. Manuela Ribeiro Says:

    Hi Sally, Being a dog lover myself I have been following your work for years and very often I visit your page to see the beautiful little and not so little babies for adoption. Living in Macau I wish I could volunteer but the distance makes it impossible. I hope from the bottom of my heart that you will find a place to fulfill your dream. Keep the good work and all the best.

  2. Get Back With Your Ex Says:

    Dogs are pretty amazing animals, right? You can easily train them, work with them and make friends with them. But that does not really apply to all because there are some dogs out there that tend to become very strict and they only obey to their owners.

    It is nice to know that despite of the fact that they can hurt people, many individuals still love to have one. It is their cuteness and their charm that makes people want to have them while they are still puppies.

    • Sally Says:

      Hi,
      I’m not really sure what you mean in your comment, but I think if you compare the number of people hurt by dogs to the number of people hurt by other people, it wouldn’t even be a contest. Dog bites and attacks make the news, but attacks by people (on other people) are so common only the really bad ones are reported. I would add that the appalling cruelty inflicted by humans on dogs and other animals is so common and widespread that nothing can compare to it. As the (apprently) most intelligent animal on earth, we’ve got a lot to be ashamed of.

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