Pawprint Magazine

Published by the SPCA, Pawprint is an animal welfare magazine that highlights the latest work of the SPCA and membership activities, as well as current animal welfare issues.

Pawprint is published three times a year – February, May and August, and is available in both Chinese and English. As a member privilege, SPCA members enjoy a free subscription to Pawprint. For members of the public, however, the magazine is available online in PDF format.

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Issue 95 - 2014/09 2014/11

Issue 95 - 2014/09 2014/11


  • Cover Story           Call for action: Legislation to restrict bad breeders for better welfare  2 - 5
  • China Outreach     Visits to Dalian and Qingdao government-run animal shelters 6 - 7
  • Inspectorate         SPCA case files 8 - 9
  • Inspectorate         Inspector profile 10 - 11
  • Inspectorate         Book review 12
  • Veterinary             Vet’s profile: Dr. Angel Yip 13
  • Veterinary             Vet facts 14 - 15
  • Veterinary             Vet’s case book 16 - 17
  • Veterinary             Vet tips 18 - 19
  • Notice Board         Dogathon 2015 & fund raising news 20 - 21
  • Notice Board         Learn more about your pet 22
  • Notice Board         Volunteer profile 23
  • Happy Ending        A lost mongrel and a never give up owner 24
  • Awaiting                Adoption Jock, Thomas and Hak Mui 25

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  • Cover Story       Call for action: Legislation to restrict bad breeders for better welfare                      2-5 

    Call for action: Legislation to restrict bad breeders for better welfare

    In November 2013 – some 12 months after the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department announced its intention to tighten regulation of the pet dog trade – police in Mong Kok received a call from a member of the public concerned about barking and an offensive smell coming from an empty flat in Tai Kok Tsui.


    More than 100 neglected animals found 

    Responding to the call, police found more than 100 animals crammed in a squalid 800-square-foot apartment covered in feces, urine, animal hair and dust. Many of the animals were in cages with no access to food or water, and exhibited a multitude of health problems and signs of neglect. 

    Working into the night, the SPCA, police and AFCD assessed the animals. Ten urgent cases were sent immediately to the SPCA in Wan Chai, while food, water and improved ventilation were provided for the rest and a police guard was placed on them until they could be safely removed. After further medical assessment, another 22 dogs and 11 cats were sent to Wan Chai the following day and the others were cared for at AFCD Animal Management Centres. Some 101 dogs and 34 cats were rescued.


    Evil consequences of the pet trade

    Although the owner of the animals in this case was accused and convicted of animal cruelty, the circumstances suggest an obvious link to the pet trade. The animals seized were small, pedigree animals whose offspring could be sold for thousands of dollars to pet shops, through the internet or directly to members of the public. There were puppies and kittens among them and other animals gave birth shortly after. 

    The medical problems the animals had were consistent with being kept for long periods in poor, crowded, cramped and unsanitary conditions. Many animals needed months of treatment and care to recover their health while others have been left with long-term health consequences. Unfortunately, a few paid the ultimate price and never recovered.

    The extreme squalor of this case, the suffering the animals experienced and the reality that this was the only life they had ever known caused SPCA team members unprecedented distress, with one seasoned senior SPCA inspector commenting that they had literally been “saving the animals from hell.” 

    The horrors of the case make clear that there had been absolutely no concern for the animals’ wellbeing or any investment in their care. Profit was the only motive. The defendant predictably denied being involved in dog trading for fear of additional charges and higher penalties being imposed.


    Boycott the bad breeder for the animals’ sake 

    So, one year on (and two years since the public consultation process started), where is Hong Kong now on this issue? Unfortunately, we are still waiting for new legislation. 

    Loopholes currently allow anyone with a dog in Hong Kong to breed it and sell the resulting puppies through any channel, with no oversight, regulation, or measures in place to protect their welfare. This situation is exploited by parties who masquerade as hobby breeders but in reality are running illegal, large-scale, commercial puppy mills where dogs may literally be “bred to death”, as seen in Tai Kok Tsui. 

    In July 2013, the SPCA launched its “Boycott the bad breeder” campaign to raise awareness of the suffering endured by many of the dogs used and abused by the pet trade. We highlighted some of our hopes for the new legislation, advised people of the role they could play in protecting these dogs and their offspring, and sought increased transparency so that abuse can no longer continue behind closed doors. As of October 8, 2014, more than 27,161 people have signed up to support this campaign.


    Increasing protection for animals 

    When the new legislation is eventually passed, it may not be all we wished for, but it should give dogs more protection and provide a regulatory framework on which to build. Anyone breeding and selling dogs will be subject to regulation, inspection and minimum standards. Licence holders will have to follow codes of practice to keep their licences. 

    These measures should reduce the likelihood of such cases as Tai Kok Tsui occurring again, as all breeding for sale will be conducted on regularly inspected, licensed premises and all sales will be regulated, thereby reducing the channels through which illegal puppy-mill operators can sell their animals’ offspring. 

    The defendant in the Tai Kok Tsui case was sentenced to 4 months in prison on cruelty charges (although he is currently appealing). While the new measures are intended to deter people from starting such businesses, anyone found selling puppies illegally will not only be liable for animal cruelty penalties but could face fines of up to $100,000 for illegally trading in animals.  The current maximum is $2,000. In cases where breeders are operating legally but are found to have caused cruelty and breached licensing conditions, they could face an additional maximum fine of up to $50,000 (currently $1,000), have their animals confiscated, and their licences revoked.


    Urgent need for legislation 

    Of greatest importance is that Hong Kong moves forward and adopts the new legislation at the earliest opportunity. This way we can help the hundreds and thousands of dogs which suffer continuously at the hands of the pet trade. Any delay risks discovering another Tai Kok Tsui hell.


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  • China Outreach    Visits to Dalian and Qingdao government-run animal shelters     6 – 7

    Training mainland veterinary surgeons for better animal welfare
    Visits to Dalian and Qingdao government-run animal shelters

    Improving the practising standards and animal-welfare concepts of veterinary surgeons in mainland China is an issue of great importance to the SPCA. It is especially important for those vets working in stray-animal shelters, as they  directly determine the shelters’ animal-welfare standards. For this reason, our China Outreach Department places a heavy emphasis on training veterinary surgeons and staff of animal shelters on the mainland, and since 2000 has frequently had our own veterinary surgeons deliver seminars in mainland cities – including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming and Nanjing.


    Upcoming Dalian Dog Shelter 

    Recently SPCA hosted veterinary training sessions at animal shelters in the two north-east cities of Dalian and Qingdao. The Dalian Dog Management Office is planning the construction of a new, large-scale dog shelter. In order to share our experience of running shelters in Hong Kong and of international best practices with the management staff and veterinary surgeons of the new shelter before its completion, we organised a two-day training workshop in April 2014. Consisting of seminars and a live demonstration of neutering surgery, it was attended by about 100 veterinary surgeons, including those from the new shelter and representatives of the Dalian Veterinary Medical Association. The workshop covered a range of topics: animal-welfare concepts, common communicable diseases among companion animals (canine distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough, cat flu, and feline distemper), skin diseases of companion animals, and age-related issues (prevention and treatment of kidney disease, diabetes and cancer symptoms). We made the most of this cooperative opportunity, sending our Chief Veterinary Surgeon Dr Jane Gray, Deputy Director (Welfare) Dr Fiona Woodhouse, China Outreach Director Chris Cui and Veterinary Nurse Calais Sin from our stray cat programme to take part.

    In addition to the exchange with the government-run shelter centre, we also visited the office and adoption centre of a local animal protection organisation, Dalian VSHINE Protection of Animals. Both SPCA and VSHINE agreed there was much they could learn in drawing lessons from each other.


    Qingdao City Animal Protection Association

    In July 2014, at the invitation of the Qingdao City Animal Protection Association, we organised a training workshop for the Qingdao government’s dog adoption service base. As with our Dalian training workshop, we delivered seminars and a live demonstration of the neutering surgery for the facility’s veterinary surgeons and staff over two days. The trip ended with an exchange session with related government departments. The veterinary industries in Dalian and Qingdao were developed after their counterparts in Guangzhou and Beijing and have had less exposure to international veterinary training. The workshop provided the 50-plus participants with an excellent opportunity to learn of the world’s more advanced veterinary philosophies and animal-welfare concepts.


    Growing awareness of animal welfare 

    SPCA hopes this series of seminars will promote the awareness and practice of companion animal welfare among more veterinary surgeons from more mainland cities, encourage them to understand the role and responsibilities of a veterinary surgeon, and gradually bring their practising standards in line with international ones. We believe that veterinary surgeons who participate in the workshops are more likely to consider animal well-being during clinical treatment and thus contribute more to animal welfare.


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  • Inspectorate      SPCA case files                                                                  8 – 9 

    “Animal cruelty is a crime ! ”

    Inspectorate figures at a glance:   April to June 2014

    Hotline calls received            9,955

    Animals handled                   1,415

    Animals rescued                    495

    Complaints investigated          328

    Pet shops inspected                 98

    Wet markets inspected             193


    01 Convicted (April)

    In October 2013, two skinny dogs were left unattended in a public housing estate in Fanling without proper care. The owner was later arrested and charged with ‘Cruelty to an animal’. He was convicted in April 2014 and sentenced to six weeks imprisonment.


    02 Collected (April)

    A Crested Serpent Eagle, which is an uncommon resident in Hong Kong, was found lying on the street in North Point and was collected by SPCA Inspectors. It had no visible injury and was sent to Kadoorie Farm for rehabilitation.


    03 Rescued (May)

    An owned cat in Sheung Shui had escaped from its home and was later found stuck behind the wheel of a stationary private car. SPCA Inspectors lifted up the car with equipment and managed to use bare hands to get the cat out. It appeared to be uninjured and was returned to its owner.


    04 Rescued (May)

    An owl was found fallen into the sea off Stanley Market Street. With the assistance of the police, the owl was rescued by SPCA Inspectors and was sent to Kadoorie Farm for treatment and rehabilitation.


    05 Convicted (June)

    In November 2013, a stray cat was found in a cat catching cage at a warehouse in Lau Fau Shan. A woman from the warehouse was arrested and later charged with ‘Possession of an illegal animal trap’. The woman was convicted in June 2014 and was fined $800.


    06 Convicted (June)

    In September 2013, extremely skinny dogs were found living on the rooftop of a village house in Yuen Long without proper care. The owner was arrested and charged with cruelty to an animal and failure to provide shelter for the dogs. She was convicted in June 2014 and was sentenced to two months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and a fine of $3,000. The dog in the photo named ‘Thomas’ is now waiting for a new home in our adoption centre.


    07 Rescued (June)

    A dog trapped in an animal cage was found by a hiker in the undergrowth somewhere near Kwun Yam Shan. SPCA Inspectors joined the hiker at the location. The dog, with minor scratches on its body, immediately escaped to the wild when Inspectors opened the gate of the cage trap. Inspectors then destroyed the cage trap and left a notice posted nearby to advise people that setting animal traps is an offence in Hong Kong.


    08 Rescued (June)

    A kitten was found trapped inside a water pipe in a back lane in Tsuen Wan. SPCA Inspectors located the kitten and made an opening in the pipe. After much effort, the kitten was freed from the pipe and taken to SPCA hospital for treatment and care. The kitten has since found a new home in our adoption centre. 


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  • Inspectorate       Inspector profile                                                                10 – 11 

    Felix Lam - Assistant Inspector

    It has been a year since Felix joined us in the Inspectorate. He had previously worked as a veterinary assistant in a private clinic, but had kept an eye open for a vacancy in the SPCA Inspectorate ever since he graduated.      

    The experience he gained as a veterinary assistant provided him with useful skills in animal care and handling and gave him a head start in his new job. Felix’s greatest satisfaction in his work as an assistant inspector comes from the challenge of rescues. 

    “Rescuing animals is sometimes like a treasure hunt. There was a case in Lai King of a cat reported to have been heard mewing in a public lift. Searching in and around the lift on our arrival, we heard nothing and could not determine if the cat was still there and if so where. As we were about to leave, I suddenly heard a “meow” and I saw a cat’s eye reflected in my torchlight in a gap between the inner and outer shells of the lift. Two small kittens were carefully freed!” 

    Felix greatly enjoys the variety of the Inspectorate’s work. He has to think on his feet, be adaptable and be part of the team. The success of the Inspectorate has always de;pended on the unity and strength of its inspector team.


    Chui Man Lung - Volunteer Inspector

    Chui Man Lung is a dog trainer in the Correctional Services Dog Unit, where he trains dogs as guard or sniffer dogs for patrol or narcotics tasks. To do this work Lung clearly has to be an animal lover, and in March 2014 he joined us as a volunteer inspector so that he could become more involved with animal welfare. 

    “Volunteering in the SPCA Inspectorate has provided with me with a sense of fulfillment. I am using my professional experience to help save animals’ lives, and at the same time coming into contact with some animals I’d otherwise never or rarely see. Recently, we rescued an owl that was reported to have been perched on a fence for an entire morning – abnormal behaviour in a nocturnal animal. When we arrived, the owl was still on the fence, and in direct sun!” 

    As the owl was on private land, permission to enter had to be sought from the owner. When they finally approached the owl, it kept fluttering away. Knowing wild animals are easily alarmed, they used a large towel to cover and catch it. No visible injuries were found on the owl’s body, but because it had been behaving abnormally they sent it to Kadoorie Farm for a full check and rehabilitation.

    Lung is passionate about his job in the SPCA Inspectorate. Sharing this tale allows us some insight into the daily work of inspectors; sometimes it can be heavy and heartbreaking, while at others it’s enlightening. If you are also passionate about animals, join Lung in the Inspectorate and help save lives.


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  • Inspectorate      Book review                                                                          12


    Price: $88

    Available at major book stores in Hong Kong, Macau and SPCA centres


    Tipped-off by a nervous and cagey informer, SPCA superintendent Bobby Wong set out to investigate a puppy breeding facility in Lau Fau Shan where dogs were being kept in unspeakable conditions. Months of evidence collection and coordination with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Hong Kong Police followed before he was able to enter and rescue over 140 dogs, which had been abused for years. 

    This and many other fascinating stories of Bobby Wong’s more than 20 years with the SPCA Inspectorate are captured in this book, which will publish in November in Chinese. 

    It traces the training of inspectors, their daily work and the extraordinary, happy and sad incidents that they encounter. This behind-the-scenes look at the work of a group of dedicated men and women also explains the techniques and equipment the Inspectorate uses to rescue animals. 

    This book is generously sponsored by the Virtuous Book Society, with a mission to promote kindness and humanity through reading. It is a must-read book for all who are interested in animal welfare and cruelty prevention work in Hong Kong.


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  • Veterinary          Vet’s profile: Dr. Angel Yip                                                         13 

    Dr Angel Yip - Veterinary Surgeon



    Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Melbourne, Australia.

    Currently enrolled in Small Animal Acupuncture course with the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM).



    After graduation, I spent a few months doing voluntary and part-time work at the Adelaide Veterinary Emergency Centre and Adelaide Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre. Afterwards I returned to Melbourne to work at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).  I moved back to Hong Kong in 2012 and worked as a locum vet before joining the SPCA in November 2012.



    Special interest in soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, cardiology, emergency and critical care and, last but not least, acupuncture.



    The SPCA is well known for its busy caseload and high standard of care.  The working environment is great, with professional support from my colleagues. In addition the welfare work definitely makes my job even more meaningful and rewarding.



    Three “misfit” cats I adopted from the RSPCA, Melbourne. “Maggie”, who has a heart murmur, “Tail”, who lost his tail due to injury and “Bungie”, who was born with abnormal eyes!



    Travelling, Reading, Water sports, Jogging, Hiking and Thai-boxing.



    I was about to finish a busy surgery shift when my colleague presented Snowy, a three-year-old male neutered Maltese terrier who was unable to urinate and in a lot of discomfort. He had suffered from similar episodes in the past two years and had already been treated surgically by a local veterinary surgeon.

    Snowy was anaesthetized so x-rays could be taken which revealed multiple uroliths (stones) in the bladder with some lodged in the urethra (the tube linking the bladder to the outside world) which were causing the urinary outflow obstruction. A urinary catheter (basically a piece of tubing) was placed into the tip of the penis and gradually advanced whilst flushing with sterile saline and as luck would have it the stones stuck in the urethra were forced back into the bladder, releasing the blockage. An emergency cystotomy (incision into the bladder) was then performed to remove the stones and prevent any further mishaps. 

    Surgery was uneventful and Snowy was moved to the recovery ward for post-operative monitoring. It was then I noticed my young, otherwise healthy patient was taking an awfully long time to recover from the general anaesthetic and started to wonder why? Luckily at the same time, the analysis of Snowy’s urine was reported and revealed a large amount of urate crystals. Interestingly urate crystals are relatively rare in comparison with other crystals found in the urine and are often seen in animals with liver disease. Considering the breed and clinical history, I decided that my poor little patient was likely to be suffering not only from urate stones but from a Porto-systemic shunt (PSS) a rare congenital condition. PSS results in some blood bypassing the liver with the result that ammonia from protein metabolism does not get detoxified as normal and urate stones will form. 

    Due to limitation of equipment, Snowy was transferred to a specialist centre for further workup including MRI imaging and surgery. I am glad to report Snowy’s congenital issues have now been fixed and he thankfully has not suffered another episode of urinary blockage since!

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  • Veterinary          Vet facts                                                                 14 – 15

    Bad breeding: It’s in the genes

    The term “bad breeder” refers to people who breed and raise animals in unhygienic, stressful and overcrowded environments where the animals’ welfare is severely compromised. These breeders often have limited knowledge of good breeding practices (or choose to ignore them) and so do little to control breeding which would actively “breed-out” genetic problems inherent in many pedigree breeds.

    On the other side of the coin, “responsible breeders” are dedicated, educated and ethical and will do what they can to remove unwanted genetic problems from their litters, treat their “breeding animals” as family pets and ensure the highest standards of welfare. 

    It is important that pet owners are aware of ALL potential problems in a breed and, by selecting their breeder carefully - as the SPCA’s “Boycott the bad breeder” campaign firmly encourages, they can do their part to improve the situation through research and consumer pressure. 

    • Modern breeds are not “natural” animals in the true sense of the word. They are the end-product of selective-breeding pressures where humans have bred for certain tasks or appearances, e.g. brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs.

    • As a result, many pedigree breeds of cats and dogs are “inbred” – they have a smaller gene pool and higher rates of genetic disease than their mixed-bred or wild relatives. For example a UK study has shown that the 10,000+ pugs living in the UK are so inbred that their gene pool is equivalent to only 50 individuals!

    • The same process can happen in humans. The historical tendency for European royalty and nobility to intermarry, in particular to marrying cousins, resulted in deformities such as the “Hapsburg Lip” - the medical term being mandibular prognathism, where the mandible (lower jaw) protrudes outwards distorting the lower third of the face making it difficult to eat. Another example is the high-rate of haemophilia (a hereditary blood clotting disorder) in Queen Victoria’s extended family.

    • Another genetic term is Founder Effect – this is when only a small number of individuals from a larger population are used to found a new population. These individuals may have unrepresentative genes and higher rates of deformities than average. This is a risk when new breeds are introduced from abroad and then bred in Hong Kong.

    • Much time and money may be spent in dealing with these problems which so easily could be avoided as could, most importantly, the unnecessary and avoidable suffering of the animal involved. To make matters worse these issues may not be present or obvious in the cute puppy or kitten in the pet shop window but may emerge only as the animal develops.


    Many problems are breed specific – here are just a few examples:

    Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can suffer from a disease called syringomyelia where the skull is too small to house the brain leading to severe pain and neurological problems. Careful breeding has nearly eradicated this problem in the UK but this issue is becoming increasingly common in Hong Kong, not just in Cavaliers but other popular breeds such a Pomeranians and Chihuahuas. 

    Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds and Huskies – are prone to hip dysplasia – a developmental disease of the hips often requiring long term pain relief or even surgery. Again, this disease has been reduced in the UK by careful x-ray screening and selection of parent dogs. 

    Scottish Fold cats have a high incidence of a progressive joint disease called Osteodystrophy, which is an accidental and unwanted problem that developed alongside breeding for the unique flattened ears and “owl-like” appearance. Affected cats suffer chronic pain which can be so bad that euthanasia is the only humane option. 

    West Highland White Terriers are very prone to an allergic skin disease called Atopy. The intense itching can require a life-time of medications, shampoos and other therapies just to control the problem. 

    Persian cats can suffer from “poly-cystic kidney” disease in which large, fluid-filled cysts form in the kidneys, affecting their function and, depending on the severity, often result in early death. 

    Bulldogs find it so difficult to give birth naturally (due to their large heads and small hips) that most litters are delivered by caesarian section. Breeding females may be subjected to this dangerous operation multiple times by unethical breeders. This problem has become so bad in the UK that veterinary surgeons are requested to report any caesarians they perform on this breed (and others) to the kennel club.


    It should also be remembered that some breeds were bred for particular geographical locations, or lifestyles. Even if otherwise healthy, Siberian Huskies, with their thick arctic coat, or Bulldogs, with their narrow airways, are not well adapted for the hot and humid Hong Kong summers. Beagles and Border Collies were bred for a very active working lifestyle and often exhibit destructive behaviours when cooped up in small apartments with inadequate exercise. 

    In conclusion, improvement to Hong Kong’s pedigree population can only come about through responsible breeding, strong and enforceable legislation, cooperation and prompt reporting among breeders, veterinary surgeons and kennel clubs, and last, but certainly not least, a helping hand from responsible and well informed consumers! 

    Pedigree animals can make excellent pets and some people naturally have a preference for one breed or another.  However, one should never forget the merits of Hybrid Vigour - this term is used by geneticists to describe the beneficial effects of larger, less-restricted and better mixed gene pools. This is the reason that mongrel or mixed-breed dogs and non-pedigree cats so often live healthier, happier lives. In essence they are genetically superior and make just as loyal and lovable companions. 

    Please remember to “Adopt Don’t Shop” and most importantly do your homework. A pet is a life-long commitment not something bought on a whim because it looks cute!


    Dr Adam West

    Senior Veterinary Surgeon

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  • Veterinary          Vet’s case book                                                                  16 – 17 

    A “Cute” Look Gone Wrong:  Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

    Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS) is a condition seen in breeds which have difficulty breathing because of the shape of their head and muzzle. Brachycephalic breeds include the Bulldog, Pug, Boston Terrier, Boxer and Pekingese. They have been bred to have short muzzles and small noses as apparently this looks “cute” to some people and, as such, breeders have progressively selected for shorter and shorter muzzles to conform to “breed standards” set by kennel clubs.

    The symptoms of BAS can range from mild to life-threatening – in a hot, humid environment such as Hong Kong where dogs need to pant to regulate heat, this disease can have deadly consequences. Dogs most at risk are those with a history of noisy breathing, especially on inspiration (breathing in) or during excitement or excessive heat. Obesity will further exacerbate breathing difficulties and the ability to cool down, increasing the risk of heat stress.

    Brachycephalic Airway Disease can be treated surgically if it is causing severe distress. As with many conditions it is better to perform surgery earlier rather than later to prevent further airway collapse or airway changes – typically older animals with severe secondary laryngeal collapse have a poorer outcome.


    Sadly this obsession with a particular “look” has led to a whole host of problems: 

    1. Stenotic nares:

    abnormally small nostrils which make it difficult for the dog to breathe, the equivalent of pressing the soft skin at the edges of your nostrils inwards and trying to breathe through your nose! 

    2. Elongated soft palate:

    in brachycephalic breeds the bony structures of the head have shortened while the soft, fleshy tissues have stayed the same size. These changes can result in the soft palate at the back of the mouth protruding into the airway thus interfering with breathing. A little bit like having a finger placed at the back of your mouth which makes you gag.

    3. Tracheal and laryngeal collapse: 

    the trachea, otherwise known as the windpipe, which transports air to the lungs together with the larynx, the structure which divides the back of the mouth from the windpipe and houses the vocal cords, can be deformed/narrowed. This on its own, or coupled with secondary changes such as inflammation, can potentially result in collapse of the airway.


    Surgical corrective procedures include:

    1. Stenotic nares can be corrected by removing a wedge of tissue to allow a wider opening and freer airflow.

    2. Soft palate resection can be performed using a scalpel or laser to remove the excess flap of tissue.

    3. Secondary laryngeal problems can be identified and addressed.


    A True Story 

    Unlike previous casebooks, this particular tale does not end well. But it demonstrates the tragedy of this condition and we hope it will serve as a warning to the many owners of brachycephalic dogs who think their dog’s noisy breathing is normal. And while not enjoyable to read we sincerely hope sharing this precautionary tale may help prevent similar sad stories in the future. 

    Jimmy* was a lovable French Bulldog who had been rescued by and adopted out from the SPCA to a great home with a family that adored him, noisy breathing and all. Jimmy had Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, which is common in his breed. Although it was considered mild initially, as he aged the condition deteriorated. Unfortunately, one hot summer’s day he began to display signs of heat stress while walking with his owners. His condition steadily deteriorated and despite his owners rushing him to a veterinary surgeon who made every effort to save him, he sadly passed away. His overheating was exacerbated by airway restriction – as mentioned, heat stress in a normal long-nosed dog, or the BAS alone without heat stress is not usually fatal; it is the combination of the two that can be so dangerous.

    If your animal is a brachycephalic breed, it’s definitely a good idea to have him or her examined by a veterinary surgeon. This will help identify an “at-risk” dog and will enable you to obtain advice on how to prevent a breathing crisis. If the problem is severe the veterinary surgeon may suggest potential treatment, both medical and surgical, which not only could improve your dog’s quality of life but also literally help keep him alive!

    *Jimmy is a pseudonym, but this is a true story.


    Dr Leonard Hamilton

    Senior Surgeon


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  • Veterinary          Vet tips                                                                      18 – 19

    Choosing the right pet: A match made in Heaven!

    Caring for a pet is a life-long commitment, but it can provide you with a lifetime of joy and fun. The following tips will hopefully guide you in the right direction and make sure you are well equipped and prepared for the journey ahead:


    Avoid impulses…why do you really want a pet?

    Before taking the plunge, spend time to determine why you want a pet and what your expectations are of pet ownership. Having made those important decisions, next decide what type and breed suits you best. Most importantly discuss it with your family members and make sure everyone agrees with this decision.


    Matching animals to your lifestyle

    Are you a day or night person?

    Are you sedentary or physically active?

    Do you work long hours?

    In short, how much time do you have for your animals?

    Some animals need regular exercising, socializing and grooming that require a great deal of care and time, while others can be low maintenance and independent.


    Do your research!

    Talk to friends who are experienced pet owners; they can provide you with a lot of practical tips and experiences. You will find all sorts of information on the Internet but always consult a veterinary surgeon for professional advice.


    Is your home safe?

    If you live in a high-floor apartment, make sure you have screens installed before getting a cat. This will prevent it from jumping out of the window or off a balcony. If you already own a cat, is it fair to get a hamster or fish? Bear in mind these animals are considered prey species for a cat!


    Are you ready for life long commitment?

    Each type of animal has a different lifespan, for example, hamsters usually live for two to three years while cats can reach the ripe old age of 20! Remember, once you decide to keep an animal you are responsible for its lifetime care. Make sure you are really ready for a long-term commitment.


    Do you have enough space?

    Do you have enough space for the type of animal that you want? Large-breed dogs such as Golden Retrievers and Great Danes require a considerable amount of living space plus an outdoor environment for regular exercise.


    Financially ready?

    Apart from the initial cost of the animal, you should be prepared for the financial commitment throughout its life which includes: 

    • Housing and environment from dog beds, litter-trays and scratching posts to cages, perches and tanks etc, depending on species.
    • Vaccinations and preventative parasite control
    • Good quality diet
    • Veterinary care
    • Grooming
    • Training classes
    • Other necessities: leashes, collars, nail clippers and brushes.


    Allergic to animals?

    Sadly this is a common reason for abandonment. Please consult your physician if any family members have allergies to animals and if you really want a new family member choose one with low allergenic potential e.g. Poodle or Siberian cat.


    Adopt, Don’t Shop:

    Many pet shop animals come from breeding establishments where they are kept in unacceptable conditions with poor hygiene, inadequate nutrition and insufficient space to move. These animals lack proper care and are prone to infectious diseases. Moreover, they are often a result of inbreeding, which may cause genetic disorders. On the flip side, thousands of animals come in to the SPCA each year; some of them are stray animals found on the street while others have been abandoned by their owners. From wherever they have come, they all have one thing in common: they are desperate for a new and loving home and a second chance at life. If you want a particular breed, you can contact local rescue organisations and place a request, or just regularly check their adoption websites. Adoption not only provides you with a companion for life but helps save a life too!


    Visit the breeder:

    We appreciate that some people may have a preference for a specific breed which may not always be available through adoption channels. In which case you should ask your veterinary surgeon or local kennel club for a recommendation to a responsible breeder. While it may seem convenient, internet breeders are likely to be commercial dealers who as stated often neglect the general wellness and welfare of animals. A responsible breeder should be able to provide you with all relevant paperwork such as pedigree birth certificate, health check and a full medical history. Visit the breeder and ask to meet the animal’s parents and siblings to verify their breed, health and welfare status.

    Choose your new companion with consideration. Adopt don’t shop. But if you have to shop… please do so responsibly!


    Do not fuel this cruel trade - Boycott the bad breeder


    Dr Angel Yip
    Veterinary Surgeon

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  • Notice Board      Dogathon 2015 & fund raising news                                 20 – 21 

    Hong Kong’s largest dog walk turns 30 

    It’s time for the bubbly as SPCA’s highly anticipated Pet Walk turns 30. Since its first organized walk in Happy Valley, the event has raised over $13 million to help animals in need. With the new name “Dogathon” and a brand new logo, the walk returns to the popular Disneyland Resort area, with an expected more than 1,300 dogs participating. This year’s theme is about adoption, and both dogs and their two legged friends are invited to fund-raise for their less fortunate counterparts waiting for a loving, permanent home at SPCA’s kennels.

    Each year hundreds of canines find new homes through our six adoption centres. While some are there for a brief stay, there are also a number of long-stayers. All deserve and receive the best care and attention we can give. Your participation will raise money to go towards their care, including veterinary treatment, socialization and enrichment, and daily care and upkeep, to ensure they are at their best for new homes. 

    All participating dogs will receive a certificate of participation with their name and a souvenir pack. The entry fee is $539 per canine (to included two people). Family Entry is $1,499 for four canines and six people. Participants are encouraged to fund-raise as much as possible, with prizes offered for those who raise the most. So please register now at to make sure you become part of history, and walk for dogs awaiting new homes!


    SPCA Flag Day wows animal fans

    On August 2, over 6,000 volunteers hit the streets to help fund-raise for animals in SPCA’s Flag Day. Once again, our flag sheet featured 50 different animals, ranging from a lizard and a snake to an owl. The mosaic of animals represents the diversity of species that we rescue, rehabilitate and rehome.

    In conjunction with the Flag Day, we minted a gold coin commemorating this year’s event, which was presented for every $500 donation to the Flag Day. This collector’s item, bearing the SPCA slogan “Respect for life begins with concern for animals”, bears testament to the Society’s aim to improve animal welfare in our city.

    Over $2.6 million was raised during the event, and we thank all donors, volunteers and members of the public who have helped make this the most successful SPCA Flag Day in our history!


    Raffle raises $1.2 million for the SPCA Inspectorate

    Over 50,000 raffle tickets were sold in this year’s raffle season, raising a staggering $1.2 million for the work of the Inspectorate.

    The SPCA Inspectorate are our first responders, rushing to the aid of animals in distress, conducting detailed and professional investigations of alleged animal cruelty, checking on pet shops and markets, sweeping for illegal animal traps and working with community and government bodies on improving animal welfare in our city.

    “We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous response to this year’s raffle,” said Tony Ho, Chief Officer Inspectorate. “The funds raised help us greatly, especially in rescues and in our cruelty prevention work.” With the cash injection, the Inspectorate will be looking forward to purchasing replacement equipment for animal rescue.


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  • Notice Board             Learn more about your pet                                                 22

    Learn more about your pet

    Is your dog a “senior” yet?

    Does your kitten’s behaviour confuse you?

    And how much do you know about animal welfare and nutrition?

    Is it hard to find a domestic helper who understands and knows how to take care of pets properly?


    These are all situations that pet owners commonly face during the lifetime of their animals. Well aware of these problems, the SPCA has offered several seminars and workshops on related topics since 2013, which aim to educate the public about raising pets and which provide a platform for troubleshooting whenever needed. Seminar topics have included: “Animal Welfare 101”, which aims to explain the ethics and responsibilities of being a pet owner; “Helpers’ Canine Care”, a valuable resource for helpers to learn how to get along well with newly homed puppies; and “The Senior Years – caring for man’s best older friend”, which teaches people how properly to take care of old dogs. To address behavioural issues and nutritional needs, SPCA has also held workshops on “Understanding Cats” and “Basic Pet Nutrition” to give pet owners an in-depth understanding of the needs and sometimes quirky desires of their pets. We believe that education and sharing are the best ways to make sure pet owners really understands how they can fulfill their pets’ needs and thus give them a suitable and comfortable living environment and life.

    Generous support from the public will enable the SPCA to continue to offer different types of lectures in the future, such as a pet first aid course, a seminar about caring for older cats, and pet general knowledge, etc. The purpose of these seminars and workshops will always be to encourage owners to be more animal-welfare conscious and provide their pets with a better life.


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  • Notice Board      Volunteer profile                                                                      23

    Volunteer Profile - Betty Yuen

    It all began with being a dog walker, then volunteering in Pet Walk and eventually joining the Volunteer Leadership Programme. It is hard now to believe that my “obsession” for dogs means that I have already been an SPCA volunteer for almost six years.

    That first day when I stepped into the kennels on the third floor of the SPCA Wanchai centre six years ago, there was another new arrival. She was a very young and energetic mongrel; so sweet and cute that I thought she would be “in and out” of the homing department in no time. Sadly, months later she was still waiting forlornly in her pen. Unfortunately also, she had started to show some signs of aggression and I worried that she would have to stay at the SPCA forever. She was transferred to other adoption centres and helped by SPCA dog trainers, which produced a marked improvement in her behaviour. One happy day a year or so later, I arrived to see her leaving with her new family. I knew at that moment that I had achieved something very meaningful and worthwhile. I decided then to volunteer for other roles at the SPCA. 

    In February of this year, I joined the SPCA Volunteer Leadership Programme (VLP) and was challenged with a series of volunteer leader training modules that taught me a lot about animal welfare in Hong Kong. The different SPCA volunteer roles I have now undertaken have given me a greater understanding of the operation of each SPCA department so that I can confidently and proudly introduce SPCA and its work to my local community. I make a point of clarifying common misperceptions of the organization so that more people can appreciate the good SPCA does for animal welfare in our society and thus benefit more animals. 

    I’m not a very social type of person and being a volunteer leader doesn’t come naturally to me. For example, it is not easy to keep a volunteer team, whom I might only have just met, motivated in a charity sales event, which normally involves long hours of standing and numerous rejections. I know I still have a lot to learn. 

    However, after six years of volunteering I find myself belonging to a group of volunteer friends who, despite our very different backgrounds, professions and ages, get along so well through sharing the same passion for animals that need help. I find this amazing and it makes me very happy. 

    I hope to stay a long time with the SPCA and I can’t wait for further future challenges! I hope also to meet lots of new faces. Please come and join me!

    “I find myself belonging to a group of volunteer friends who, despite our very different backgrounds, professions and ages, get along so well through sharing the same passion for animals that need help.”


    Betty Yuen

    experienced volunteer in SPCA 

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  • Happy Ending               A lost mongrel and a never give up owner                         24

    The Reunion of love:  a lost mongrel and a never give up owner.

    On 3rd February 2014, Leah was found wandering in the streets of Yuen Long with her brother Linus. Fortunately, Inspector Kei and Inspector Tak found them, shivering from the cold, in time and took them into the care of SPCA. 

    During their stay in the hospital, Linus showed promising improvement in attitude towards humans but Leah remained skeptical, stressed and depressed. They were moved to the homing department, in the hope that they would be influenced by other more outgoing dogs. Leah improved but not by much.

    Then came the Adoptathon event, Miss Yu met Leah. At the time Miss Yu was interested in another dog, which she reconsidered and canceled the idea. Our staff introduced Leah to her. At first glance, Leah is nothing more than a regular mongrel. Miss Yu left empty-handed that day but she came back the next day just to see Leah. She visited her for four consecutive days after and slowly admits that she became fond of Leah.

    “ She looked nervous and sat in a corner when I first met her, and she didn’t move at all. She was not as active as the other dogs that I might not be able to handle, and seemed to be a good choice for a new pet owner like me.” Miss Yu then proceeded with the adoption process with a hope that spending more time together would further the creation of bonding. Miss Yu led Leah to her vehicle and she eagerly drove home to welcome Leah into her life. But on arriving at home, things turned for the worse.

    Upon the opening of the car door, Leah’s natural instinct kicked in and she escaped to a hill nearby. Miss Yu chased after her but lost sight of her within minutes, and the sky was getting dark. She returned home later in the evening, heartbroken and in despair, and started searching  early the next day despite an amber rainstorm warning signal, and the risk of being trapped on the hill by heavy rain.

    She contacted the SPCA and our inspector team for assistance in the search. Posters were put up and flyers were handed out for a wider range of help. For the next few days, Miss Yu continued to search with the SPCA staff, through rain or shine. Throughout the week, they found Leah several times but always out of reach. Leah was so afraid that she didn’t come for food, though she has been out of food for so many days.

    “The story had just started, I would surely regret it if I didn’t try my very best to save her and be a responsible owner.” Miss Yu recalled.    

    A miracle happened on the tenth day, when a neighbour was walking her dogs near the hillside and saw a dog coming by. She recognized Leah and swiftly caught and leashed her to her dogs. Miss Yu then received a call from this kind lady and quickly claimed Leah back into her life. She took Leah back to the SPCA for a full body checkup. Fortunately, Leah only suffered mild cuts on the neck made by the collar.

    Leah now lives happily in Miss Yu’s home, and they finally have time to establish the basic foundation of trust and dependency. Leah gained some weight, now has the courage to walk around the house and even hang out with Miss Yu without too much panicking. Miss Yu recently adopted another dog, Lena, from SPCA to spread happiness to everyone they meet.


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  • Awaiting Adoption    Jock, Thomas and Hak Mui                                                25         

    Awaiting adoption 

    When you feel satisfied that you’re ready to adopt a pet, simply have a look at our animals on this page, or visit them in person at one of our SPCA centres. When you think you’ve found the perfect pet to take home with you, simply get in contact, and we’ll guide you through the rest of the process. Animal adoptions not only benefit the animals, but they also provide warmth, companionship and a whole lot of fun!



    Gender:      Male

    Age:           2 years old

    Number:    326343

    Location:    Sai Kung Adopt-a-Pet Centre 

    I was rescued and now recovered from a car accident. I am well-behaved and cheerful, and I love to make new friends. I am waiting for your coming, please take me home and love me till the end of my days.



    Gender:       Male

    Age:              3 years old

    Number:      322504

    Location:     Hong Kong Centre 

    I am a born explorer and the scars on my left back are my medals for bravery of my survival in the abandonment case (please refer to p.9 case 06 for detail). I love to explore every inch of ground I come across; I am passionate about nature and outdoor activities; while I love to play with a tennis ball or rubber bone when I am indoors. Please bring me home and I will definitely be your sunshine.


    Hak Mui

    Gender:      Female

    Age:             1 years old

    Number:     329844

    Location:    Hong Kong Centre

    I used to live in a construction site and was rescued by the inspectors. Though I look assertive and independent, I am in fact timid, gentle and tranquil. Please come to spend sometime with me and bring me home, I am always ready to give you a wide smile.


    For more information, please go to



  • Sai Kung Adopt-a-Pet Centre is now re-opened!

    Have you recently visited our Sai Kung adoption centre?


    After a substantial renovation, the Sai Kung Adopt-a-Pet centre has reopened with a more efficient layout designed to maximize comfort and accessibility for our animals and their visitors. The reorganization also includes relocating all animals to this Adopt-a-Pet centre from the Sai Kung Clinic for a more suitable and public-friendly environment, waiting for your visit and a chance of going home. The ground floor of the centre is now the kennel, and the upper floor is for cats and small animals.

    In addition to adoption service, an area selling animals’ favorite products is also available in the shop. The window display of the centre is also re-designed, with “home like” settings providing a heartwarming feeling to customers.

    Don’t be upset if you are not ready to adopt any animals from SPCA, as you can give your support by using our retail service. All proceedings generate from the retailing support our animal welfare work.

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