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.

If you are a member and wish to change the language preference for your Pawprint subscription, please contact our Membership Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 2232 5548.

If you are a representative of a Hong Kong school and would like to subscribe to Pawprint, please contact our Education Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Issue 92 - 2013/11 2014/01

Issue 92 - 2013/11 2014/01

Contents

  • Latest News at the SPCA    2 - 4
  • Cover Story    Labour of Love    8 - 12
  • Focus             Rooting for Our Long Stayers  14 - 17
  • Inspectorate   Inspector Profiles  18 - 19
  • Inspectorate   SPCA Case Files    20 - 21
  • Veterinary      Vet Facts   22 - 23
  • Veterinary      Vet’s Case Book   24 - 25
  • Veterinary      Vet Profile: Dr Adam West   26
  • Veterinary      Vet’s Tips   27
  • Happy Ending  News from Down Under  28

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(text only version)

  • Latest News at the SPCA                                                                           2 - 4

    New Year, New Look – A brand new SPCA website

    At the end of last year, the SPCA website had a huge makeover and greeted the public with a brand new, refreshing look! Our new website features a whole host of useful content on pet care and animal welfare, as well as easily accessible information on our services. If you haven’t seen our new website, explore www.spca.org.hk today, happy browsing!

     

    New SPCA Centre at Fairview Park

    Located on Fairview Park Boulevard near the Fairview Park entrance, our Yuen Long Fairview Park Centre has been in service since November 2013 and is already getting busy! Alongside servicing clients and their pets in the region, the clinic is also a centre of operations for the SPCA’s desexing work in the New Territories, a crucial part of our mission to improve animal welfare in Hong Kong. With the new centre open, we are happy to announce that our Tuen Mun clients have been enjoying a full day’s Mobile Clinic service on every Tuesday since December 2013.

     

    A Resounding “Yes!” at the SPCA Cattery

    Here at the SPCA we’re no strangers to playing the matchmaker – our staff at the homing department is dedicated to matching our homing animals with potential adopters. In October 2013, however, our cattery staff in Wanchai played a key role in Frank Zhang’s proposal to his girlfriend. The couple has always been keen supporters of the SCPA and after Frank approached us with his special request to propose to the love of his life, we gladly obliged. It was a happy and very touching moment for everyone on that day, and a big congratulation to Frank and the soon-to-be Mrs Zhang!

     

    WOUF Launches New Line

    The WOUF “So… close” collection celebrates the unique and powerful friendship between owner and animal. By using hair collected from your pet, WOUF creates a special item which represents the love between you and your furry best friend. The boldness of the collection’s spiral design is inspired by the strength and truth between an owner and their pet.

    “Your pet may only be a part of your life, but for him - you are his everything, the only person in his whole life.”

    To create high quality yarn, hair length should be around four inches and shed from combing not cutting. This is then thoroughly washed and cleaned by the WOUF team before being hand-spun into yarn and knitted into a unique piece of WOUF’s designer knitwear.

    The SPCA is a major raw material provider for WOUF’s ready-to-wear products. We ensure that the dog hair supplied is 100% animal-friendly, and this is in line with WOUF’s social belief.

     

    Local Musical Benefits the SPCA

    Starring local theatrical talents, “DOGs” is a Cantonese musical production brought to you by award winning director Henry Fong. The musical tells a story of a pack of seven abandoned dogs surviving in the streets of Bangkok and how their friendship and courage help them escape the fate of being used for animal testing in a laboratory. DOGs will open in February and tickets are now available at Tom Lee Music, Cityline Ticketing Outlets and www.cityline.com. Proceeds of the benefit show on 19 February will go to the SPCA. Get your tickets now!

     

    SPCA Staff Shine at Hill’s Vet Nurse / Assistant Practitioner of the Year 2013

    Three of the SPCA’s vet assistants have been nominated and clinched awards at the Hill’s Vet Nurse / Assistant Practitioner of the Year 2013. Calais Sin, Pat Chan and Debi Siu stood out from some other very outstanding nominees and are recognised for their dedication, commitment, and professional leadership in veterinary nursing.

     

    Calais Sin – Vet Nurse / Assistant Practitioner of the Year

    Calais has been an invaluable and integral part of the SPCA’s Cat Care Colony Programme since its inception in 2000. She has taken up the role as CCCP coordinator and in over ten years, the programme has expanded to help over 6,000 cats a year. Calais is well loved among her peers as well as the programme’s carers, and her work is vital to CCCP’s continued success.

     

    Pat Chan – Outstanding Award

    Pat has been with the SPCA for more than 15 years and is part of a core team that forms the backbone of the SPCA’s animal welfare operations. Apart from handling surrendered pets and animals from prosecution cases, one of her responsibilities as the Senior Veterinary Assistant is to oversee the operation of the SPCA’s mobile surgical unit, dedicated to neutering cats and dogs to reduce the risk of unwanted litters being born.

     

    Debi Siu – Outstanding Award

    Debi has been with the SPCA since 2005 and she is now working at our Veterinary Department as a Supervisor (Surgery) who oversees the daily operations of our surgical floor. As the supervisor, she holds one of the hardest and responsible vet nurse positions at the SPCA dealing with a very busy and complex surgical load. Debi sets a very high standard of care and practice on the surgery floor and is a great example to her fellow colleagues.

     

    Hill’s Vet Nurse / Assistant Practitioner of the Year

    Each year, Hill’sTM Pet Nutrition, Hong Kong Vet Nursing Association (HKVNA) and Animal Industries Resource Centre (AIRC) forms a panel of three committees to award veterinary nurses / assistants who advocate for their patients, contribute significantly to the care of patients and who are the integral part of the veterinary health care team.

     

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  • Cover Story              Labour of Love                                                         8 - 12

    Labour of Love

    With the holiday seasons just behind us, a few volunteers share with us their experience working at the SPCA.

     

    Thank You!

    We would like to take this opportunity to thank our many dedicated volunteers who not only give us their time generously, but also make use of their unique skills to help improve the lives of many animals in Hong Kong Volunteers make it possible for us to extend our reach and help more animals. For this, we thank you.

     

    The Family

    Tony Mok has been volunteering at the SPCA for more than a year. “My daughter likes animals. Ever since she attended a few SPCA’s events, she has been talking about volunteering at the SPCA.” However, because his daughter is younger than the volunteer age requirement (which is 16 years old), Mr Mok decided to sign up instead.

    Mr Mok has proven to be an extremely versatile volunteer for the SPCA – he had been a dog-walker, he provides clerical and administrative support, and he is also a SPCA foster parent.  The Moks adopted a cat from the SPCA many years ago. After it passed away at the ripe old age of 12, the parents have been hesitant about adopting another one. Their daughter is still young and Mr Mok felt that she is not ready for the full responsibility of caring for a pet. After some consideration, they decided to bring her to the SPCA cattery every week, not only to visit the homing felines, but also to show her the heavy responsibilities involved in keeping a cat. One day, our staff at the cattery approached Mr Mok and asked if he would be able to foster some kittens, and it all started from there.

    The Moks foster kittens and cats every month or so. So far, over 20 felines have benefitted from their care. “We’ve fostered all kinds of cats: the sick and injured, adults and kittens.” To her parents’ delight, the young Miss Mok has started to share the responsibilities of fostering cats. “Of course she plays with the cats. But apart from playing she also scoops their waste and feeds them.” It might not be long before the little lady will be allowed to care for a cat of her own.

    Fostering young kittens and sick cats also means that death was always a possibility that they might have to deal with. Not long ago, a cat in Mr Mok’s care died from health complications – a first for them. Prior cats had passed through their doors and were returned, healthy and happy, to the SPCA. It was a sad affair for the family, but Mr Mok said the experience taught them, especially his daughter, the importance of being observant and learning how to spot symptoms of illness early on.

     

    Best Pals

    Christy and Zarah are old friends. Christy has volunteered at the SPCA for over two years and after six months, encouraged Zarah to come with her. They are both dog walkers and regularly take our homing dogs out for some fresh air and exercise. Christy now studies overseas but whenever she visits home, she will come to our kennels to volunteer.

    Christy has always loved animals and has chosen to volunteer with us to support our cause. She hopes by being a volunteer, the good work of the SPCA can benefit more animals. Zarah is especially appreciative of SPCA’s work in the community, its public education work on animal welfare. 

    Whilst working in the kennels, the pair has also been involved in caring for animals waiting for adoption after prosecution cases. “We help clean these animals and the area they stay in. Take Mung Chu, for example, he’s rescued from a prosecution case and the scar on his snout makes him look slightly scary. In truth he is a very sweet, trusting dog. I cannot imagine why someone would hurt him, but I’m glad that he’s now staying at the kennels and waiting to be adopted,” says Christy.

    Being a regular volunteer is particularly fulfilling because they see animals recover from their traumatic pasts. “There was once I was asked to help clean up a few Maltese dogs rescued from a cruelty case. When I first saw them, they all looked so unhappy and thin; as time went on, they gained weight and appeared much happier when they were let out to play,” adds Zarah. 

    Because the both of them have been working alongside our kennel keepers for some time, it brings them great joy to see abused dogs recover and find loving homes. “I remember when I first started working here, there was this very old female bulldog living in the kennels. She had freckles all over her face and her favourite thing to do was to lie in bed all day. But she’s also a very smart dog and knows where she’s supposed to go when her kennel was being cleaned. The poor dog looked depressed, so whenever I got the chance, I would go pet her in her kennel. We were a bit worried that she might stay here forever! About a year later, I came in and found her kennel to be empty. The news of her getting adopted was wonderful news for the both of us.”

    The pair describes volunteering as a wonderful, life-transforming experience. As dog walkers, Christy and Zarah know that their work is very important to the kennel dogs. “The kennel environment can be very stressful for homing dogs and we are the bridge that connect them to the outside world. Something as ordinary as cars and traffic can be terrifying to a dog that has never had experience with roads. What we are doing now is for the benefit of the dog as well as its future owner – it helps them cope with new experiences in their new home. When people seeing us walking the dogs in our uniforms, passersby sometimes ask us questions. We explain how what we are doing helps SPCA’s dogs and why adoption is so important.”

     

    The Young Professional

    Name any fundraising event and it’s likely that you would have seen Shadow Chan there, volunteer badge hanging from his neck, working diligently. For the past two years, Shadow has been a regular at our fundraising office working on the many fundraising events that support the SPCA, including Flag Days, the moon cake sales, Pet Walks. He first started by providing administrative and clerical support at our Headquarters, before helping out at events. 

    In Pet Walk 2013, he was the volunteer leader and sat on the administration team to help with event planning. Without prior experience organising large-scale events like the Pet Walk, Shadow was nervous about what to expect on the day itself. Apart from getting up very early to round up his group of volunteers, he also had to improvise when the unexpected happened. “It wasn’t just doing as I was told; I was put in charge and given serious responsibilities. In that sense, the event was very challenging and memorable.”

    Not only has Shadow made a group of close friends at the SPCA, he has also learnt a lot about animal welfare issues in the Hong Kong news.

    His desire to volunteer at the SPCA stems from a simple belief – all animals are our friends. While humans can make their own life choices, very often the fate of animals, domesticated ones especially, rests in our hands. A proud pet owner of a cat and a hamster, Shadow thinks the least he can do is to help improve their lives and welfare by learning how to be a good owner.

    On the day of our interview, Shadow actually started his first day of volunteer service at our Wanchai adoption centre. He is training to be a volunteer dog walker, which requires him to assist our kennel keepers in their daily duties such as kennel cleaning. Shadow is mindful that his presence should add value to SPCA’s work, stressing that volunteering is a long-term commitment and should be taken seriously. “Volunteering is fun, but taking up the work in order to enjoy yourself is not the correct mindset.”

     

    The Couple

    Frankie Chiu and Winnie Ho are a lovely couple who started volunteering at the SPCA about a year ago. It was the Mrs who introduced the Mr to the SPCA volunteer programme. “I first volunteered on Flag Day 2012 and it was a rewarding experience, so when I saw another email recruiting helpers for Pet Walk, we both signed up.” says Winnie. Their first task was relatively easy – they were assigned to crowd control at the event. “From then on, I regularly help at other events such as volunteer orientations and the most recent Boycott the Bad Breeder campaign.”

    The couple’s beloved dachshund passed away two years ago. “We both love animals and appreciate the opportunity to volunteer at a sizable animal organisation such as the SPCA,” says Frankie.

    Frankie works flexible hours and that allows him to take up some of the more unusual work at the SPCA – he signed up as a volunteer photographer. A keen amateur photographer, Frankie wanted to put what he loves to do in his spare time to good use. Since signing up, he has already helped us capture a dozen events. Although anyone can be a “photographer” in this day and age, it takes skills and experience to produce photographs of quality that the SPCA can use for its promotional materials. “Event photography is something I’m familiar with because I take photos for my company’s event as well. Photography is an important tool for marketing and promotion purposes. A picture is worth a thousand words and a good one can move people.”

    Frankie remembers travelling to Guangzhou with a team of SPCA staff to photograph their visit to a newly built Guangzhou dog kennel run by the Public Service Bureau. The SPCA had been invited as advisors and to Frankie, China taking the initiative to build a facility for stray dogs comes as a pleasant surprise – all in all an eye-opening experience. Winnie agrees with him. “Before working as a volunteer at the SPCA, I’m not sure what I can do to help animals. Now I understand your work better and how the organisation functions.”

    The couple encourages animal lovers to volunteer at the SPCA. “Since we signed up, our experience volunteering here has been very positive. We’re put in touch with the SPCA’s volunteer coordinator and we can feel her dedication. If you want to help animals, come and join us!”

     

    Donate Your Time

    Dedicated volunteers have helped us to become Hong Kong’s most successful animal welfare organisation. When you join our volunteer team you’ll find lots of fun and challenging ways to help.

    It is very easy to sign up – just go to www.spca.org.hk/en/join-us/volunteer
    and fill in the online application form, our volunteer coordinator will be in touch with you shortly.

     

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  • Focus                          Rooting for Our Long Stayers                                 14 - 17

    Rooting for Our Long Stayers

    As we welcome in the New Year, we’d like to put in a special appeal for many lovely animals that have stayed at the SPCA for longer than they should.

    Each morning, our staff at the SPCA kennels and catteries follow a set of routines as they prepare the facilities to welcome the public and officially kick start the day for our homing animals. After a long, dark night, dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters greet their keepers with enthusiasm as their cages or enclosures are being cleaned. And as we go through the routines, saying hi to each animal and prepping them to meet their potential adopters, some of these temporary residents get a special “good luck chant” from us. “Be good, old boy (or gal), this is your big break. Today you’ll get adopted, I promise.”

    It might or might not happen, of course. We just want to root for our long stayers.

    The SPCA’s adoption centres are run with the purpose to help as many animals as possible. Ideally we’d like to see our charges find homes within two weeks, but reality sometimes strays far. In some cases, dogs and cats can stay with us for weeks and months on end when the tag next door might have changed a few times already. We find ourselves wondering why – they make such sweet pets – but usually there’s no definite reason. A long stayer could be a pedigree animal or your regular mongrel and domestic short hair; they might have come to us when they’re past their prime or they might have been puppies that grew up at the kennels; they might be timid and shy or very active and friendly. Whatever the reason, these animals have stayed with us for more than two months, and that makes them our long stayers.

    Putting a roof over their heads, providing shelter, food, water and veterinary care already put our adoption animals in a much better place than their less fortunate friends in the streets. However, we mustn’t forget that an adoption centre is never meant to be the final destination for an animal. They each deserve a home where a family is there to stay and provide the consistency and time to build trust and security. While we try our utmost to provide the best possible for our adoption animals, it is still not comparable to a real, loving, permanent home where an owner will not only fulfill the pet’s physical but emotional needs as well.

    At the SPCA, animal keepers and volunteers spend as much time as possible with our animals, providing socialisation and stimulation. Dogs are taken out for walks regularly and cats are provided with various enrichment such as toys, scratching posts or time to play with other cats. Still, long-term exposure in a kennel or cattery environment can be very hard for dogs and cats. Some animals cope better than others at our centres; as their stay drags on, they invariably sink into some form of depression. For cats and dogs that used to have a home, it is particularly difficult. Over-grooming, self-mutilation, repetitive behaviour are all results of stress, commonly seen in the long stayers. Apart from the psychological effects, there are also issues on the health front that require our attention. We’ve taken every possible precaution to ensure that our animals’ health are taken good care of, but living at a facility where animal density is high, the risk of catching a disease is also high.

    Knowing what long term stay can do to animals, our staff make it their personal business to find a loving, forever home for them. They recommend the long stayers to potential adopters wherever possible; they make posters, Facebook posts and special appeals. These long stayers have hearts of gold and if given the chance, have plenty of love for owners who are willing to take them in.

     

    Golden window of opportunity?

    For many reasons, potential adopters are partial to young animals. Tiny, precious, and cute as a button, puppies and kittens are the most popular at our adoption centres. Some first time pet owners also harbour the misconception that young animals are easier to train. The reality is, as our homing animals grow older, they get overlooked by potential adopters who’re looking to adopt young puppies and kittens. Adult cats and dogs usually have to wait a long time before the right person comes along.

     

    Meet Our Long Stayers

    As Pawprint goes to press in January 2014, these gorgeous, lovely darlings are still waiting at our centres. They are by no means the only ones that urgently need a home. If you’re looking for a companion animal, consider giving these long stayers a second chance in life.

     

    Candy, Happy, Chu Lui, Joy, Kama, Moby, Mung Mung

    We Grew Up Here

    This bunch came to stay at the kennels when they were merely three or four months old, but they missed their golden window of opportunity and continued to grow up as adults in the kennels. With limited exposure to the outside world, these dogs are easily excitable and potential adopters often wonder if they have the energy to keep up. Truth is, in most cases, when they do settle into a home and start adjusting to the routine of family life, they grow calmer and become more disciplined. As adults, they have already reached their full size and their temperaments are more or less determined. Given time, they can all become loving and stable companions.

     

    Traumas?

    While extended stay at a kennel environment can have adverse effects on an animal’s psychological and physiological wellbeing, once adopted, many animals settle comfortably into a loving home. Long stayer adopters have made special effort to ensure that their pets ease into family life after living for many months in a kennel environment with many dogs. Months later, they report back with encouraging and heartwarming tales of past long stayers showing dramatic improvement. Sometimes, time really is the best healer.

     

    Momo - I Was Returned

    Technically, Momo and Monnie aren’t long stayers. They came to the SPCA as puppies and were snatched up pretty quickly. Sadly, for reasons that aren’t their faults, the dogs were returned to us and they find themselves back in our kennels again, waiting for the next adopter to come along. Being back is especially hard for returned dogs; they might not understand what happened to them and will need time to adjust to life in the kennels. Frustrated and depressed, they would appear agitated and the misunderstanding could sometimes deter potential adopters.

     

    Monnie - I Was a Victim of Abuse

    Mung Chu, the gentle giant in our kennels, might look familiar to you – he and his canine friends made the news one year ago on Christmas Eve 2012. Their previous owner had bound their muzzles with cable ties, cutting painful wounds around their mouths. A year has elapsed and Mung Chu’s friends have found good homes, but the poor chap is still waiting at the kennels. At eight years old, Mung Chu is remarkably mature and is a very calm dog. Despite the shocking abuse, his exceptionally sweet temperament and his silly grin continues to melt even the coldest of hearts.

     

    Bob - The Street Life Chose Me

    Maybe it’s the crease between his eyes, we were tempted to call this four-year-old Uncle Bob. He was rescued as a stray so his past is a bit of a mystery. Obviously street smart, Bob has used his charm to survive amongst humans, and whatever his life was like in the past, he is now a happy, friendly dog, coping well in the kennels and approaching strangers with confidence. 

     

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  • Inspectorate               Inspector Profiles                                                      18 - 19

    Dicky, Lee Tat Kin - Chief Investigation Officer

    Inspector Dicky Lee has been with the SPCA Inspectorate for just under two years. After 35 years serving the community as a Senior Inspector of Police, Dicky retired from the police force in January 2012. 27 of those years were spent taking charge of different types of Crime Investigation Teams. Dicky has been grateful that he can make full use of his previous criminal investigation experience, especially when he can assist police counterparts during investigation work.  

    “Because of my many years of CID investigative experience, the SPCA invited me to join their animal cruelty investigation team. I agreed immediately after learning about the very unique and very meaningful work of the Inspectorate, ” says Dicky. His excellent record in criminal investigation and knowledge in investigative methods are very valuable to the team. The past 18 months working with the SPCA has also proven to be demanding as well as rewarding.

    “Prior to joining the SPCA, I never realised that there was such a dedicated team of people working round the clock to help animals. Out in the field working with the other Inspectors I have witnessed the sincere appreciation shown by the public and it has really reinforced my feeling that I have made the right choice for my second career.

    Serving animals through investigating animal cruelty complaint cases can derive just as much job satisfaction as helping people through detective work. Animals are sentient beings, they have feelings just like us. Therefore, the most important thing I have begun to realise is that we as human beings have a responsibility to take care of other animals and to treat them kindly and not take advantage of them for our own benefit. I really treasure this opportunity to work with the SPCA Inspectorate and I am committed to do everything I can to help animals.”

     

    Ah Teed, Yam Chi Wai  - Volunteer Inspector

    Yam Chi Wai is one of the newly recruited volunteer inspectors. A police officer by day, he donates his free time to the SPCA by working alongside our Inspectors in rescue missions, and if necessary, assisting them in handling animal cruelty cases.

    “Finding myself in the SPCA rescue van is both an exciting and a daunting thing, because you never know what kind of a case you’ll be heading to next,” says Yam. “There was once where we received a tip-off from a concerned member of the public, reporting a suspected cruelty case concerning two dogs on the rooftop of a village house in Yuen Long. An Inspector and I immediately responded to the scene and with the help of the said citizen, we were able to observe the dogs. The first time I laid eye on those dogs I was astonished but more than anything I was angered – the mongrel had a mask on and was basically just skin and bones. We could see the ribs clearing from the side. Most of its fur had fallen off and it also had a long gash on its back, the was inflamed and the skin had begun to rot away.”

    “This mongrel and his Husky friend were both stranded on the rooftop without shelter. The floor was filthy with their excrements and there was no food and water whatsoever. The neglect they suffered from was unfathomable. We didn’t waste a moment and reported the case to the police to have the owner arrested. The two dogs were brought back to the SPCA for veterinary exam and treatment.”

    “These poor dogs were abused but when we approached them, they wagged their tails at us and showed no sign of fear. What animals want is simple – show them your kindness and they would return your friendship with affection that can last a lifetime.” Although the work of a volunteer inspector is full of challenge, the job satisfaction alone drives him to give us the time and expertise he has to help animals in need.

     

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  • Inspectorate               SPCA Case Files                                                    20 - 21

    “Animal Cruelty is a Crime! ”

    Inspectorate Figures at a Glance:     July to September 2013

    Hotline calls received                  10,060

    Animals handled                         1,396

    Animals rescued                         415

    Complaints investigated              387

    Pet shops inspected                    118

    Wet markets inspected                259

     

    01 Convicted (July)

    In April this year, a poodle was found dead in a cage (without cover) on the roof top of a residential building in Sham Shui Po. The owner admitted that he had “quarantined” this poodle for fear of its sickness spreading to his other two dogs, and the poodle died because of neglect. He was arrested and was later charged with cruelty to animals and sentenced to four months in prison.

     

    02 Rescued (July)

    When a dog fell into the sea just off the Kowloon Public Pier, it swam towards the pier and was trapped in a space so tiny it only allowed the dog to stand on. SPCA Inspectors came to its rescue and with assistance provided by the police frogmen and Fire services were able to rescue the dog using a dog-catching pole. It appeared to be uninjured and was taken to SPCA for further veterinary examination.

     

    03 Convicted (August)

    In May this year, a stray cat was strangled to death by a drunken man. The man was arrested and was later prosecuted for cruelty to animals. He was originally sentenced to three months imprisonment in August, but the sentence was reviewed and increased to seven months in October.

     

    04 Rescued (August)

    SPCA Inspectors and the Fire Services went all the way to Tai Long Wan, Lantau, to rescue a cow that fell into a ditch. The cow’s hind legs seemed to have lost mobility, and a crane lorry passing by was happy to lend a hand. With the cow back on ground level, an AFCD vet conducted a thorough check and confirmed severe injuries in its hind legs. The cow had to be euthanised on humane grounds.

     

    05 Rescued (August)

    A puppy was found sandwiched between rocks in a dam in Sam Mun Tsai, Tai Po. SPCA Inspectors used iron bars to pry the gap wider and rescued the puppy. It appeared to be in normal body condition with no sign of sickness or injury and was sent to SPCA hospital for veterinary examination. 

     

    06 Convicted (September)

    Two policemen were patrolling in Lam Tin when they saw a man shooting stones at two pigeons with a slingshot. One of the pigeons died and the other sustained injuries. The man was arrested and later charged with illegal hunting of wild animals. He was fined $3,000 in September.

     

    07 Rescued (September)

    A leopard cat was found wandering outside a house in Kam Tin. Our Inspectors responded to the scene and captured it unharmed. With no visible injury, the leopard cat was transferred to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden for custody.

     

    08 Rescued (September)

    A cat was found trapped in the barbed wire fence along the outer wall of Stanley Prison. Trapped at ten metres above ground, the rescue mission would have been impossible without the backup from Fire Services. With some careful maneuvering, SPCA Inspectors were able to free the feline and rushed it to the SPCA hospital to treat the injuries on its abdomen.

     

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  • Veterinary                  Vet Facts                                                                    22 - 23

    Diabetes: The not so sweet facts

    • In the United States more than 24 million people (8% of the population!) are affected with diabetes mellitus and the disease is also on the increase in cats and dogs.
    • Diabetes is the second most common endocrine disorder in cats with an estimated incidence of 0.5% (approximately one in 200 cats) and is very common in dogs with approximately one in every 500 dogs affected.
    • Obesity is a contributing factor especially in cats. Overweight cats being four times more likely to develop diabetes than their “normal” weight counterparts! With obesity on the rise, it’s no surprise the incidence of diabetes is also increasing.

     

    What is Diabetes?

    • Diabetes is an endocrine disorder of blood sugar (glucose) metabolism which is normally controlled through the hormone insulin (which acts to reduce blood sugar).
    • In cats, the body does not respond effectively to the insulin it produces (Type 2 or insulin resistant) while in dogs the body does not produce enough insulin (Type 1 or insulin deficient).
    • This causes too much sugar in the blood which can make the animal much more likely to get infections and can have other negative consequences including kidney failure and cataracts.
    • Left untreated, diabetes can affect multiple organ systems resulting in Ketoacidosis (DKA) when toxins (ketones) build up in the body; this is a life-threatening emergency and can be fatal.

                                       

    What are the clinical signs?

    • The most common symptoms are increased thirst (and urination), increased appetite despite weight loss and lethargy.
    • Dogs may develop cataracts and cats can show weakness in their hind limbs.
    • In more severe cases (DKA) the animal can have the above symptoms plus being very weak/lethargic (even collapsed) and exhibiting vomiting or diarrhoea. 

     

    How to Diagnose?

    • Diagnosis of diabetes is fairly straightforward based on clinical signs, physical examination and blood and urine tests.
    • An elevation in both blood sugar and finding sugar in the urine, along with appropriate clinical signs, is diagnostic for diabetes.
    • A full blood panel will indicate if other organ systems are affected e.g. kidneys.
    • A urine culture may be taken to ensure there is no urinary tract infection, a common concurrent problem in diabetic animals (bacteria like the sugar in the urine!)

     

    How to Control / Treat?

    • Depending on severity, insulin therapy is likely to be prescribed usually requiring twice daily injections at home.
    • An in-depth consultation with the owner to discuss the disease process, monitoring both in the hospital and at home, medication handling and administration, and lifestyle adjustment is necessary. While it may seem scary at first, owners quickly learn how to give injections and monitor their pets!
    • As with our human counterparts diet plays a vital role in the regulation of diabetes and can help minimise insulin use. It is important to realise requirements are different for cat and dogs.
    • Cats should be fed a high protein, low carbohydrate diet and some cats can even go into remission and be managed on diet alone if the disease process is caught early enough! Diet recommendations for dogs will depend on their body condition (fat vs thin) at diagnosis. Feeding regular meals 12 hours apart can also help to control blood glucose.
    • At home monitoring may include checking the urine with “dipsticks” for glucose, monitoring water intake and weight and checking your pet’s blood glucose just like in people!                                                                                             

    Understanding diabetes and the subsequent care required will seem daunting at first to many pet owners, after all it’s a lot of information to process! However, with good home care and regular veterinary communication, diabetes is a treatable disorder with many dogs and cats having long, happy, and healthy lives.

     

    Dr Jamie Gallagher
    Assistant Senior Veterinary Surgeon

     

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  • Veterinary                  Vet’s Case Book                                                      24 - 25

    Split Seconds
    Saved a Life

    For veterinary surgeons, every now and again there are highly rewarding moments where the rapid use of training, experience, diagnostics and treatment can save a life literally in seconds. The following is one such case.

    In January 2013, Fendy, a five-year old female Basset Hound cross, arrived at our Wanchai hospital with only minutes to live. She was rushed into a consulting room in a state of complete collapse, lying on her side with shallow breaths, cold to the touch and completely unresponsive. A key diagnostic clue was that she had a very slow heart rate with just one beat every 20 seconds! (A normal canine heart beats once to twice per second.) With a heart rate that slow she could only have survived a few minutes; most immediate and drastic action needed to be taken.

    To speed up the heart, she required adrenaline directly into her bloodstream but all of her veins were entirely collapsed and so the terrifying decision to administer a dose directly into her heart through the wall of the chest was taken. The effect was immediate – the heart rate increased and her blood pressure was raised enough to enable an intravenous catheter to be placed.

    With such a low heart rate in a collapsed dog, the diagnosis was already pointing towards a condition called Addison’s disease. Fendy needed high rates of fluids through the catheter which were commenced immediately. As soon as her heart was beating more normally, a blood test was taken and an imbalance of blood salts (sodium and potassium) added to the suspicion of Addison’s. Typically in Addison’s, the blood sodium becomes low and potassium high. It is the excessive potassium that slows the heart down to dangerous levels.

    The definitive diagnosis of Addison’s disease was achieved by a special test called an ACTH-stimulation test in which the blood levels of cortisol are measured before and after a stimulating injection. In affected dogs, the response of cortisol to the injection is greatly reduced. As soon as Fendy was stable enough, this test was performed and it confirmed beyond doubt Addison’s disease.

    This disease is commonly seen in middle-aged female dogs just like Fendy and results from the body producing low levels of certain hormones (the glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids). These are steroids of a similar nature to the ones used by doctors (or cheating athletes). They are essential to the normal function of the body, helping to regulate metabolism including the levels of blood electrolytes and glucose. These “steroids” are made in the adrenal glands and Addison’s disease (named after the British physician who first described the condition in humans in 1849) is thought to happen when the body’s immune system attacks parts of its own adrenal glands reducing production.

    The disease can present in many ways, from a milder form in which a patient may be a little “off-colour” or shows intermittent vomiting and diarrhoea to the far more severe and life-threatening type that Fendy showed which is known as an “Addisonian Crisis”.

    Post diagnosis, the appropriate therapy was commenced which is simply to replace the “steroids” that the dog is not making itself. In the early stages this was done by injection and later by tablets. Fendy recovered quickly (within 12 hours) and went home the next day. Despite needing lifelong treatment and regular blood checks, the good news is she is doing very well and behaving herself at tablet time! It’s a great feeling knowing that such rapid and correct action by everyone involved (vets, nurses and counter staff) saved this lovely dog’s life.

     

    Dr Adam West
    Senior Veterinary Surgeon

     

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  • Veterinary                  Vet Profile: Dr Adam West                                      26

     

    Dr Adam Michael West
    Senior Veterinary Surgeon, British

     

    ACADEMIC QUALIFICATION:

    MA, Vet MB University of Cambridge & Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS), UK.

     

    CAREER PATH:

    I have always been interested in working abroad, even as a vet student I spent two summers in Asia working with apes in Malaysia. After qualifying in 2000 I worked as a volunteer for eight weeks performing tuberculosis tests on cattle in Africa. I returned to the UK and was employed in mixed practice for 18 months before getting itchy feet again! In 2002 I journeyed out to Hong Kong spending the first four and a half years working in the New Territories before joining the SPCA in September 2006.

     

    VETERINARY INTERESTS:

    Gastroenterology and behavioural problems. Team management.

     

    REASONS FOR WORKING AT THE SPCA (HK):

    It’s a worthy charitable organisation that has greatly furthered the cause of animal welfare in Hong Kong.

     

    PETS:

    Two dogs, “Edal” and“Roxie”, and a ferret called “Fezza”.

     

    INTERESTS:

    Acting in and directing theatrical productions. When not in an operating theatre, I am often to be found in an actual theatre. Reading, walking and travel are my other interests.

     

    MOST UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE:

    My time under the great big sky of Africa will never be forgotten. However, my single most memorable experience must be when I thought my life was in mortal danger in a story straight from a James Herriot novel! I was called out to an ornamental white long-horn bull who was having severe difficulty in breathing. The poor animal could barely breathe and was unable to move because every molecule of oxygen was precious. Examination indicated that the animal’s larynx was massively swollen and infected. Antibiotics would eventually resolve the problem but in the short-term an emergency tracheotomy (placing a temporary tube through a hole in the animal’s windpipe) was needed to allow the animal to breath. This was performed under local anaesthetic and once the temporary tube was in place the bull took an enormous breath… and charged straight at me, head-down, with two-foot sharp horns aimed at my terrified body. It was by the smallest of margins that I escaped over the fence into the arms of the farmer who found it all very amusing!

     

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  • Veterinary                  Vet’s Tips                                                                  27 

    Keeping Endocrine Issues at Bay

    Hormones are chemicals which help control body functions such as glucose levels, general metabolism and breeding drive and are vital to maintain the balance in body systems. Endocrine diseases are related to a disruption of hormone production in the body.

    While some cannot be prevented, here are a few top vet tips on how at least to “do no harm” and also recognise the symptoms of certain diseases.

    • Firstly, hormone diseases are best detected and treated earlier rather than later. Seek veterinary advice if anything is abnormal, particularly changes in drinking and eating habits or weight loss/gain.
    • For instance, an inactive, overweight dog who seems bored of life could be hypothyroid (low thyroid activity).
    • A senior, hyperactive and very hungry cat could be hyperthyroid (excessive thyroid activity)!
    • Having your female pet desexed greatly reduces the chances of diabetes and other diseases related to sex hormone production.
    • Keeping your pet slim and trim also greatly reduces the chances of diabetes.
    • Diabetes is a common reason why your cat or dog may be drinking, eating and peeing more than normal.
    • A dog which looses excessive fur, develops a pot belly and drinks a lot of water could have Cushing’s disease (an overactive adrenal gland producing too much corticosteroid).
    • Conversely, a dog which seems unhappy, listless, with or without vomiting and diarrhoea could have Addison’s disease (an underactive adrenal gland causing salt imbalances and low corticosteroid production).    

     

    Dr Adam West
    Senior Veterinary Surgeon

     

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  • Happy Ending                      News from Down Under                              28 

    News from Down Under

    From time to time, our adopters like to keep us updated of the new lives of our homing animals. This time, the letter comes from the Aussieland. John Stone and his family have long been supporters of the SPCA and in enquiring about a past issue of Pawprint, he’s also delighted to share with us the news of the family pet, Beckie.

     

    Beckie came to us in 2006 as a very young puppy and was lucky to be adopted by the Stones shortly after. The family lived in Sai Kung at the time and their home provided lots of living space for their new pet. Despite the Stones’ very best effort to make the home welcoming for Beckie, she was very timid and withdrawn at first. John suspected that she might have had some very unfortunate experience before the SPCA took her in, so the family treated Beckie with a lot of patience and let the canine got to know her new owners better. As with most other cases, their patience paid off. After a slightly rocky transition period, Beckie learnt to be more trusting and eventually fit into her new home very nicely.

     

    A little more than five years later, the family made the decision to move to Australia. The plan, of course, was to bring Beckie with them on the plane; to everyone’s dismay, Beckie failed to pass her final blood tests for Leishmania just when the whole family was due to leave. After some deliberation, the Stones decided to temporarily leave Beckie behind in the care of their trusted helper while she took a few more tests at the veterinary clinic. It must have been a very difficult January for the Stones – they checked back for news regularly and only after repeated attempts was Beckie finally able to pass the blood test. So in about a month, Beckie boarded a plane and experienced her first long haul flight. Waiting for her at the gate, however, was not her family – the quarantine station was her next stop. Although visits were allowed, Beckie still had to endure a further 28-day in quarantine before she could reunite with her owners. According to John, Beckie seemed to sense that her owners were equally anxious to have her back. Beckie never lost hope and the hope kept her going.

     

    When Beckie finally got to the new family home, it was worth the wait. Now she has lots of room, grass areas, and good shelter. Near home, there are several large parks where she gets to meet fellow canines. Running free, playing together with other dogs and most important of all, a family that loves her to bits. It’s no surprises that Beckie is loving her new life.

     

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