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 96 - 2015/02 2015/04

Issue 96 - 2015/2 2015/4


  • Words of the Executive Director 1
  • Notice board 3
  • Cover story Mission Zero: to reduce animal suffering to zero 4 - 9
  • Inspectorate SPCA Case Files 10 - 11
  • Veterinary Vet Facts 12 - 13
  • Veterinary Vet’s Case Book 14 - 15
  • Veterinary Vet Tips 16 - 17
  • At the frontline Dr Sylvain David, Fifi Lee, Angus Chiu & Ben Lau 18 - 19
  • Latest work of SPCA A Prison Catnip 20
  • Latest work of SPCA Premiere of Short Films in Mainland China 21
  • Happy ending In Loving Memory of Ginger 22
  • Awaiting adoption Clifford, Mint, Lazzie, Mung Ngai 23
  • Members’ corner A Happy Paw-filled Saturday at Cyberport 24 - 25

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  • Words of the Executive Director                                                   1

    Dear Members,

    It has been my privilege to be back in the Executive Director’s role at the SPCA for the last six months. During this time I have been reassured by and impressed with the commitment and dedication of everyone involved -- our wonderful staff, the Executive Committee, our excellent volunteers and, of course, you, our members. Without your continued support we would not be able to do anything. Everyone is working extremely hard to further the cause of animal welfare.

    You will see in this issue of Pawprint that we have launched our campaign Mission Zero, which aims to reduce animal suffering to ZERO. A number of initiatives will be rolled out in coming months and years, striving to protect the Five Freedoms of animals, and ultimately individual animal welfare.  Many of these initiatives are built on our existing programmes, where we will just try to do more, but also we will see the SPCA trying new things like different ways of homing more animals, particularly the more difficult-to-home large mongrel dogs.   

    One of the biggest issues that the SPCA faces is our desire to stop animals from suffering unnecessarily. Quite frankly we are fed up with having to euthanise animals because of other people’s bad behaviour.  The key initiatives under Mission Zero this year aim towards the goal of Zero Surplus – not a single healthy and adoptable animal without a proper home. The initiatives employ a three-pronged approach: Animal Birth Control, Adoption and Education, and they will be covered one-by-one in the coming issues of Pawprint.

    In this issue, we will focus on our work and vision on Animal Birth Control and the vet’s part will explain more about desexing, in order to provide a broader understanding of why we are doing so. This year the SPCA desexed more than 15,000 animals and we aim to increase that number to 20,000 next year. We are also increasing our efforts with the community. In our recent project on Peng Chau we worked closely with the community leaders, local residents, the Police and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) to help people there take care of their animals in a responsible way. Our plan now is to target a number of “hot spots” in the New Territories where there are known to be more than 6,000 loosely owned or worksite dogs that are producing puppies indiscriminately. It is our intention to invite the AFCD to work closely with us to persuade owners of these animals to take responsibility for them and work with us to desex them. You can assist in this endeavour by writing to the AFCD, asking them to support us in this work. Once the dogs and cats have been desexed and returned to their carers, our SPCA inspectors will be charged with ensuring that these animals are being taken care of appropriately.

    The SPCA, like all organisations, is not perfect but it is staffed by people who care very much about what we do and try their very best to improve animals’ quality of life. We welcome your suggestions on what you think we should be doing better. We will be opening up a number of new ways for you to communicate with us and tell us what you think, for example, a forum for members to share their views and experiences with us and with each other.    

    We are grateful for your support and hope that you will continue to support us in the coming years by helping us spread the message, and providing resources and support for our various campaigns.


    Steven Calpin
    Executive Director of the SPCA

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  • Notice board                                                                                    3

    Hair Force One takes to the air
    Looking for a chic and cosy environment in which to have your pet groomed?

    The SPCA proudly announces the opening of its brand new grooming facilities, Hair Force One, at the SPCA Wanchai headquarters. Our professional team is on standby to attend to your pet’s grooming needs. Whether for a simple summer shave or a “full styling trim” for that special occasion, the team is highly trained to combat:

    1. Messy fur
    2. Dirty ears
    3. Matted hair
    4. Inter-digital hair
    5. Long and sharp nails
    6. Compacted anal glands

    Book now at 2232 5532 for this brand new grooming experience.

    P.S. We will be soon announcing the inaugural flight of our Hair Miles loyalty programme.

    Stay tuned for the latest news!


    Yuen Long Fairview Animal Welfare Centre expands its clinic hours

    Good news for the New Territories! Veterinary services in the Fairview Animal Welfare Centre are now available three and a half days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning) offering consultation, vaccination, routine surgery, including dental work, in-house laboratory tests and wellness checks.

    We thank members for their support which enables us to continue our much-needed welfare work.

    Please call 2483 2770 or visit our website for more information.


    First Aid 101 for Dogs

    This course is highly recommended to any owner wanting to improve their knowledge of canine health care and potentially save their dog’s life.

    Come and learn how to:

    • Administer different medicines
    • Recognise a genuine emergency
    • Respond in any worrying situation

    Common health problems and emergencies covered will include collapse, lacerations, heat stroke, poisoning and snake bites. In each situation you will learn the possible causes, what signs your dog might show, what first aid you can give until you get veterinary help and last but certainly not least – how to avoid the situation from ever happening in the first place.

    Details of course enrolment and fees will be announced soon!


    Bumbo’s Cinderella Story

    Bumbo, a two-year-old British shorthair cat, was brought to the SPCA with an ear discharge, which on examination was found to be caused by a polyp and required surgical treatment. Although her owner, Ms Li, had tried to treat Bumbo’s ear with drops purchased from a pet shop, she now declined further intervention.

    Later we found Ms Li crying in the waiting area and learned she was retired and could not afford Bumbo’s medical expenses. As Bumbo was a young cat and her prognosis after surgery considered good, her case was referred to the SPCA’s customer services manager.

    Ms Li was invited to come and discuss the operation with one of our senior surgeons. The large size of the polyp made conventional removal difficult, so a ventral bulla osteotomy was performed and after a night’s rest in hospital, Bumbo returned home a very happy and healthy cat! Ms Li has since written expressing her gratitude for the help given to her and Bumbo.

    The removal of Bumbo’s polyp was made possible by the Cinderella Vet Medical Fund.

    This fund was established to provide medical and other relevant services for pet owners unable to afford the full expense of caring for their sick, injured or otherwise needy animals. Please consider donating to the Cinderella fund so we can brighten the future of other animals like Bumbo and their owners.


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  • Cover story         Mission Zero: to reduce animal suffering to zero         4 – 9


    To reduce animal suffering to zero

    The SPCA launched its Mission Zero campaign last year with the aim of protecting the Five Freedoms of animals (Figure 1*), which form the core basis for professional groups working in the field of animal welfare. The ultimate goal of Mission Zero is to reduce animal suffering – both physical and mental – to zero. Animal welfare cannot be accomplished by one single organisation but needs the cooperation of society as a whole, and this requires time and effort. Mission Zero will roll out a number of initiatives over the coming months in an effort to spread welfare ideas in a holistic manner. These will target existing pet owners, potential pet owners and non-animal-lovers, and of course stray animals themselves. (* Please refer to the pdf version.)

    Last year our focus was on “Boycott the Bad Breeder”. This year Zero Surplus is the key initiative of the Mission Zero campaign, with the goal that not a single healthy and adoptable animal is without a proper home, and hoping that one day euthanasia of unwanted animals will be a thing of the past. While this concept is not new, we are rekindling our efforts to bring it back into the public consciousness as a cornerstone of our welfare strategy. The three pillars of Zero Surplus are simple and are intrinsically linked: Animal Birth Control, Adoption and Education.


    Animal birth control: Zero Stray Animals

    Raising awareness about animal welfare issues remains our top priority and is the only way to effect fundamental changes on a societal level. Along with this understanding comes a moral obligation to reduce animal suffering to zero, including no uncontrolled reproduction and zero unwanted offspring. This is a key step in achieving one of the goals of Mission Zero: to reduce the stray animal population to zero – a responsibility that lies with all of us.


    Adoption: Zero Stress and Zero Return

    Increasing adoption rates of the Society’s homing animals is the second pillar of Zero Surplus. As part of this effort, the SPCA has worked intensively to ramp up its in-house behaviour and training programmes for the homing dogs, aiming to minimise the inevitable stress of living in a kennel, especially for the long-stay animals. This not only improves the animal’s welfare but also to develops appropriate behaviour, which is directly linked to a higher adoption rate and lower return rate.


    Education: Zero Ignorance

    Underlying any strategy remains the need to educate – and for the public to respect animals as sentient beings and to realise that animals available for adoption at welfare organisations such as the SPCA are there through no fault of their own. Rather, their presence reflects a failure on society’s part to address the root causes that brings them there in the first place. One of the most essential aspects of the SPCA’s Responsible Pet Ownership Programme (RPO) has thus been the education of dog and cat owners on the importance of neutering. As high neutering rates play an enormous role in decreasing the stray animal population, neutering results in a direct decrease in the euthanasia of unwanted animals.

    We strongly believe that the Mission Zero campaign is crucial to protect and promote the well being of animals. Only by engaging the community as a whole will people understand that their individual actions do have an impact on larger animal-welfare issues. What one decides to do or not do actually does matter. You can choose to adopt a kitten instead of buying one from a pet shop or a breeder. You can choose to neuter your cat. You can choose to be a good neighbour by cleaning up after your dog. You can choose to be a responsible owner by keeping your dog properly managed. Only together through a sustained, collective, conscious effort can we build better welfare for our pets, reduce the number of unwanted animals, and ultimately arrive at the day when animal suffering is a relic of the past.

    In the rest of this cover story, we will describe the community education and animal birth control week held by the SPCA in Peng Chau, and follow up with the support given by the SPCA Welfare Desexing Centre in Fairview Park to the Mongrel Desexing Programme where mongrels are sterilised for free. The other two pillars of Mission Zero: Adoption and Education will be covered in coming issues of Pawprint.


    The Five Freedoms

    • Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
    • Freedom from discomfort
    • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
    • Freedom to express normal behavior
    • Freedom from fear and distress



    The Farm Animal Welfare Council (modified 2009).


    The Community Education/Animal Birth Control Week on Peng Chau

    In December 2014, a team of veterinary surgeons, veterinary assistants and inspectors from the SPCA collaborated to support “The community education/animal birth control week on Peng Chau.” This action aimed at promoting the idea of responsible pet ownership and social harmony among pet owners and the public. Our strategy is to offer a convenient neutering service which is free of charge and avoids owners having to travel long distances, and where we can proactively introduce the idea and benefits of having pets desexed.

    Like most villages and rural areas in Hong Kong, free-roaming and irresponsibly owned pets are common on Peng Chau, and animal overpopulation has become a problem. Residents face noise pollution and poor hygiene in the streets; while the animals themselves face overcrowding, inadequate food supplies and territorial disputes. By offering free desexing and rabies vaccination, we hope to reduce the number of unwanted litters and free-roaming animals taken care of by concerned, but sometimes misguided, members of the public. In this way we can move closer towards our goal of Zero Surplus and avoid animal injury and death in an effort to fulfil our ultimate goal of zero animal suffering.

    A vitally important part of this effort is education. Influenced by religious beliefs or the lack of knowledge, some people may view desexing as harmful or being unnecessarily hurtful. One of our main tasks is to explain why animals need to be desexed and how this benefits both the animal and society.

    While on Peng Chau we visited Mrs Fong, a Thai lady who has lived on the island for more than 40 years. From community leaders, we understood that she was taking care of a number of unneutered cats and dogs in and around her house. She agreed to have the dogs neutered as she recognised that she couldn’t handle the uncontrolled litters. However, she refused to have the cats neutered. She thought the cats were “safe” as they usually remained in her house. “I don’t want to see the cats suffering. The pain and hurt from the surgery will be unbearable for those little ones!” After an in-depth discussion about the benefits of desexing and the possible consequences of having undesexed animals (see Vet Facts and Vet’s Case Book, pages 12-15) Mrs Fong finally agreed to have the cats neutered. As the dogs and some of the cats tended to roam freely in and around the house, we set traps baited with food in Mrs Fong’s garden and successfully caught them for surgery.

    The story of Mrs Fong is not unique, but reflects a commonly seen situation on Peng Chau and in other villages in the New Territories, reminding us of the importance of visiting proactively such areas to educate and offer desexing help.

    By the end of the community education/animal birth control week on Peng Chau, we had successfully neutered 82 animals, and most importantly planted the idea in the community that every healthy and happy neutered animal is a living testament to the benefit of desexing. What we achieved on Peng Chau we plan to carry out shortly elsewhere. With your support we will be able to see further success. Please join us in promoting responsible pet ownership and harmony in society through Mission Zero.


    The Mongrel Desexing Programme

    In addition to our on-site work, such as Peng Chau island, we also offer a free-of-charge desexing service through our Mongrel Desexing Programme (MDP). The SPCA Welfare Desexing Centre in Yuen Long, Fairview Park opened in November 2014 to support the programme and allow increased access to our welfare programmes in the New Territories. Pet owners who live in the New Territories already have an accessible SPCA veterinary service at our Fairview Animal Welfare Centre. The new SPCA Welfare Desexing Centre supports the SPCA animal birth control programmes. Rabies vaccination and dog licencing are, as usual, strongly recommended and are available free of charge under the mongrel desexing programme to encourage responsible dog ownership.

    “The New Territories is a hotspot for stray animals, and in the past we had to travel a long distance to the Wanchai Centre with cats that had been caught for desexing. The SPCA Welfare Desexing Centre in Fairview Park helps us a lot in easing the stress on the animals and lowers the cost of transportation,” said Aster, a volunteer of the Cat Colony Care Programme and user of the desexing service. “The MDP also helps in promoting the adoption of mongrels as it lowers the cost to the adopters.” Aster also hopes there will be more resources in the future, supporting the work of volunteers to help animals. This can be done through the hard work and support of the SPCA, its members, donors and the general community.

    To fulfil the goal of Zero Surplus under our Mission Zero Campaign, the SPCA has been providing resources to concerned animal lovers for many years, and yes -  there should be more. Efforts to raise awareness regarding the problem of animal overpopulation on the streets will continue and be stepped up, and the SPCA continues to work proactively with local communities, as we did on Peng Chau. But we still need your help to become one of us so we can speak up for animals together with a stronger voice. Please join as a member and help support our initiatives. 

    You can support our animal birth control programmes through donating, by simply sending a crossed cheque made payable to “SPCA(HK)” or by making an online donation at




    Free-of-charge neutering for mongrels under the Mongrel Desexing Programme is provided on specific days at the following SPCA clinics:


    SPCA Welfare Desexing Centre

    Address:  Fairview Park Main Road L3250 B8RP, San Tin, Yuen Long

    (2593 5438)


    Animal Welfare Vehicle

    (2232 5513)


    Sai Kung Centre

    Address:   7, Sha Tsui Path, Sai Kung

    (2792 1535)


    Mui Wo Centre

    Address:   Shop 14, Mui Wo Centre, Lantau Island

    (2984 0060)


    Cheung Chau Centre

    Address:   CX277, Tung Wan, Cheung Chau

    (2981 4176)


    On a limited basis at:


    Hong Kong Centre

    Address:    5, Wan Shing Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

    (2802 0501)


    Kowloon Centre

    Address:    105, Princess Margaret Road, Kowloon

    (2713 9104)


    Hang Hau Centre

    Address:    Flat B, 2/F, Block 5, Hang Hau Village, Tseung Kwan O

    (2243 0080)


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  • Inspectorate         SPCA Case Files                                                            10 – 11

    “Animal cruelty is a crime ! ”

    Inspectorate figures at a glance:     July to September 2014

    Hotline calls received            9,310

    Animals handled                   1,185

    Animals rescued                   352

    Complaints investigated        308

    Pet shops inspected              113

    Wet markets inspected          208


    01 Collected (July)

    Porcupines are nocturnal animals and rarely seen, so it was a surprise for one concerned member of the public to find this young pup (or porcupette) on the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail near Tai Tam Reservoir Road. Most young porcupines can live on their own at two months, but this one seemed unwilling to move. It showed no signs of obvious injury when it was later checked by an SPCA Inspector and was sent to Kadoorie Farm for further veterinary assessment.


    02 Rescued (July)

    ”Curiosity killed the cat” is an expression used to warn of the dangers of imprudent exploration. SPCA Inspectors called, through a hotline report, to an apartment in Tseung Kwan O, found a ginger and white kitten stuck in the cable cubby hole of a computer desk. Applying lubricant to the kitten’s neck, the Inspectors carefully and slowly manouevred its head through the hole in the desk, its body following more easily. This curious kitty was lucky and was returned to its grateful owner.


    03 Convicted (August)

    A case of animal abandonment that had been reported in November 2013 came to court in Hong Kong in August 2014. A husky left in a village house in Sheung Shui without food or water had been found in a distressed state. Its owner, who was the tenant of the house, was located by the police, arrested and charged with “Cruelty to animals”. When the case was heard, the owner was fined $10,000 for neglect of an animal.


    04 Rescued (August)

    An SPCA Inspector was called to an apartment in Shun Chi Court, Kwun Tong by an occupant of the building who was concerned for a dog that seemed trapped on a slope opposite. Having assessed the situation, the Inspector climbed the slope and successfully rescued the dog using a dog control pole. Fortunately, the animal appeared uninjured and in good health, and having been rescued from where it had been stuck, took off and ran away along a railed-off concrete ledge.


    05 Convicted (September)

    A joint operation between SPCA Inspectors, the police and the AFCD in November 2013 had resulted in the discovery and rescue of a total of 101 dogs and 34 cats from premises in Tai Kok Tsui. The animals were being held in totally inappropriate and insanitary conditions and the man in charge of them was arrested and later charged with “Cruelty to animals”. Convicted in September 2014, he was deemed to have caused them unnecessary suffering and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment.


    06 Convicted (September)

    In February 2014, some 100 mongrels left unattended in dreadful conditions in a village house in Yuen Long were found together with the bodies of 20 other dogs. The owner was arrested and later charged with “Cruelty to animals”. She was convicted in September 2014, fined $1,000 and sentenced to 160 hours of community service. The terrible and shocking situation these poor animals found themselves in can only have been the result of human ignorance.


    07 Rescued (September)

    An adult mongrel dog which had become trapped in a water catchment channel in Yuen Long was rescued by SPCA Inspectors. Having climbed down the channel’s embankment and slowly approached the dog, the Inspectors were able to encourage the animal into a cage and lift it to the road above. The dog appeared to be in good condition with only minor injuries to its paws. Eventually, its owner was located in nearby warehouse and the two were happily reunited.


    08 Rescued (September)

    SPCA Inspectors were called to a sad scene in Lau Fau Shan where a dog with a head injury was reported wandering in the middle of a stream. The inspectors had difficulty in getting close as the dog was very frightened, but using a long piece of plastic piping to which they attached a loop, they managed finally to pull it from the water. The animal appeared to be very sick, with a large maggot wound on its head, and was humanely euthanised. 


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  • Veterinary           Vet Facts                                            12 – 13

    Nipping the Problem in the Bud Desexing Demystified

    Pet owners, especially ones who visit SPCA veterinary clinics, must be all too familiar with receiving advice that their pet should be desexed. The veterinary department strongly endorses this and the message seems to be getting through, with a recent survey of SPCA members showing that about 90% of their dogs and cats have been desexed.


    So why do veterinary surgeons offer this advice?

    Obviously an extremely important reason is to assist with population control. This is a key part of the SPCA’s work. Last year alone (2013/14) we performed over 14,000 desexing surgeries! By preventing unwanted litters, a smaller, healthier population under human care becomes more achievable. A step in the right direction towards our vision of every healthy, homeable animal having a loving home.


    In addition to birth control, there are multiple advantages to being desexed for an individual animal. Here are a few examples:


    Sexual instincts are removed:

    which allows an animal to relax into a household without feeling the need to seek a mate. Mate-seeking behavior often gets animals into trouble such as road-traffic accidents or fights with rivals. If animals have these instincts but are unable to follow them the resulting sexual frustration is often detrimental to their quality of life.


    Desexed pets are often easier to handle in a home environment:

    certain unwanted behaviours are reduced or absent such as aggression in dogs or urine spraying in male cats.


    Preventing false pregnancies:

    an unwanted pregnancy is bad enough but not all pregnancies are real! Female dogs can enter into hormone-driven “false pregnancies”. These are often marked by inappetance, swollen, sometimes tender, teats and unusual behaviour, the affected females at times showing severe aggression.


    Removal of the reproductive organs removes the risk of certain diseases: these include many forms of cancer of the ovary or uterus of a female or the testes of a male. If a testis remains inside the abdomen of a male dog (and does not “drop”), the higher temperature greatly increases the chance of cancer forming. But it’s not just cancer, female dogs in particular show a high rate of the uterine infection called pyometra - a life-threatening condition that requires surgery, not on a healthy, young animal that bounces back in a day or two, but often on a severely ill animal with far greater surgical and anaesthetic risks (please refer to the Vet’s casebook this issue for details). Other disorders of the reproductive system such as ovarian cysts, and vaginal or uterine prolapses are also prevented.


    Once the sex hormones are removed, certain diseases in other parts of the body become far less common including:

    • Diabetes – this is far more common in entire compared to desexed females.
    • Mammary cancer – this is far more common in entire females and can be malignant (with potential to spread to other sites), especially in cats. The prevalence of mammary cancer is greatly reduced in desexed females, especially if the surgery is done before the first heat.
    • Prostatic disease in male dogs – in a desexed male dog the prostate (a gland near the bladder) will usually cause very little trouble. As entire dogs get older on the other hand, the prostate can grow under hormonal influence (just like in humans) and bleed, become infected or develop cysts and affect the passage of urine or faeces (as a result of pressing on the bladder neck or large intestine).

    So, the benefits of desexing an animal are clear. It results in animals that tend on average to live longer, healthier, calmer and happier lives (and that don’t produce other animals!). 

    In the opinion of the vast majority of veterinary surgeons and other animal welfare professionals, these benefits greatly outweigh any disadvantages.

    However, owners are understandably concerned about putting their beloved pet through elective surgery. The following information hopefully helps to allay those worries:


    Myth 1: The surgery is risky and painful

    Demystified: The procedure is routine and very familiar to veterinary surgeons, with complications being very uncommon and rarely life-threatening. Some discomfort is of course felt for a few days post-surgery but this can be controlled effectively with pain killers. Loving owners will make the decision to desex their pet… a few days of discomfort, usually minimal, for a life-time of benefits.


    Myth 2: My pet will become overweight

    Demystified: The removal of sex hormones does lower the metabolic rate and increase the risk of weight gain but forewarned is forearmed and careful regulation of diet and exercise can help avoid this.


    Myth 3: My pet will be boring to me

    Demystified: Desexed pets can be just as much fun (and have just as much fun) as entire ones! In addition to less desirable behaviours such as attempting to mate with legs, arms or inanimate objects, aggression or inappropriate urination can be removed… surely a good thing!


    The SPCA sees the benefit of desexing at three levels: the individual animal, the family unit and last but not least for the territory as a whole. Please ask your veterinary surgeon if you would like more information on having your pet desexed.


    Dr Adam West
    Senior Veterinary Surgeon


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  • Veterinary           Vet’s Case Book                              14 – 15

    a life-threatening but avoidable disease

    What is pyometra?

    Pyometra is the accumulation of purulent material (pus), due to bacterial infection, in the uterus. Pyometra occurs at any age after the first oestrus and the reported age range is six months to 18 years in dogs and one to 20 years in cats. It occurs more frequently in non-desexed female dogs six years or older. A recent oestrus (within the last 8 weeks) will increase the risk of pyometra. Pyometra serves as a nidus (centre) of infection, which through bacterial spread in the blood can cause a wide variety of problems including kidney and liver damage, heart dysrhythmias, anaemia (low red blood cells), low blood glucose levels and coagulation (clotting) abnormalities. More importantly, if left untreated, pyometra will lead to septic shock (blood infection/toxaemia) and death.

    The type and severity of clinical signs depend on patency of the cervix (if the cervix is closed infection cannot be released and the disease is generally more severe), duration of the illness and the onset of associated metabolic diseases. In dogs, the most frequently reported signs are anorexia (not eating), drinking and urinating more, depression, vaginal discharge, vomiting and diarrhoea. Signs are more subtle in cats than in dogs. Cats may show mild anorexia and depression until the disease is well advanced, which obviously puts them at a greater risk.


    Diagnostic tests:

    Abdominal radiographs and ultrasonography can detect if there is any fluid in the uterus. Blood tests can also assess if there are any metabolic abnormalities (such as low blood sugar), which would mean a greater anaesthetic risk. Laboratory results show a high white-blood cell count, anaemia (low red blood cells) and high globulin levels (protein), all of which are common in patients with pyometra. High white blood cells and high globulin levels correlate with the inflammatory/infectious condition of the uterus and anaemia is often due to the chronic and toxic nature of the disease.



    Ovario-hysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus) is the treatment of choice. If not treated there is a high death rate associated with the concurrent metabolic abnormalities (especially septic shock) and organ damage.

    Dogs suffering with pyometra are often dehydrated with electrolyte (salt) and acid-base (pH) imbalances, all of which should be corrected before surgery with intravenous fluids. Occasionally, blood transfusions are necessary if there is severe anaemia and/or coagulation (clotting) abnormalities.

    In the most serious scenario the uterus may rupture or be torn either before or during surgery. This is because the uterine wall becomes stretched and as a result is thinner and friable (easy to rupture/tear) especially with a “closed pyometra” when the cervix is closed and the uterus is distended with pus which cannot be released through the vagina. These animals have a higher risk of death due to peritonitis (infection of the abdomen) and septic shock.


    Is medical therapy an option?

    Medical therapy is inappropriate for critically ill patients with pyometra because removal of the infection is neither immediate nor complete. If only treated with antibiotics, pyometra commonly persists or recurs with medical therapy, with a report showing that 77% of female bitches which received medical therapy had the pyometra return.



    Without surgery death is common, plus, as mentioned, medical therapy can “dampen” the disease but a complete cure is unlikely. The prognosis following surgery is good if abdominal contamination (peritonitis) is avoided, septic shock is controlled and kidney damage if present is reversible.

    However, even with surgery, death rates are approximately 5-8%, so desexing your female dog at a young age, ideally around five to six months and before their first season, is the best way to prevent this life-threatening disease!


    Dr Joanna Lee
    Assistant Senior Surgeon




    A true story

    An eight-year-old female Miniature Schnauzer Susie was presented to our emergency service with a sudden onset of dullness and abnormal vaginal discharge. She had not been eating well for a few days and in the previous 24 hours had started to drink and urinate more. Particularly worrying was that she seemed uncomfortable and was panting excessively. Susie had been in oestrus a month earlier and this had lasted for seven days, during which time she had not been mated. However, the owners became particularly concerned when they noticed a foul-smelling vaginal discharge and so brought her for an emergency consultation.

    On physical examination, Susie was quiet and dull with a moderate fever of 39.5°C (the range of normal temperature is 38.0-39.1°C). She showed pain on abdominal examination and as mentioned there was a mild foul-smelling, brownish vaginal discharge. A tentative diagnosis of pyometra (infected uterus) was made.

    A fluid-filled uterus was detected on abdominal radiographs and ultrasonography. The laboratory results also showed high white blood cells, anaemia and high globulin levels (protein), all of which are common in patients with pyometra.

    An emergency ovario-hysterectomy was performed once Susie was stabilised with fluids and given pain relief and antibiotics. The uterus was moderately distended and was carefully isolated from the abdomen to minimise the risk of bacterial contamination, it was then removed together with the ovaries. The great news is the surgical procedure and anaesthesia proceeded very smoothly, recovery was uneventful and Susie was sent home the following day with antibiotics and pain relief. At the revisit 10 days post-surgery, Susie had recovered very well. Luckily for her the condition had been caught reasonably early and there should be no lasting side-effects, fingers-crossed! 

    We wish Susie and her owner all the best. And by sharing this story, we are hoping to see more pet owners consider having their pets desexed and avoid diseases like pyometra. 


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  • Veterinary            Vet Tips                                            16 – 17

    How to care for your pet post desexing surgery

    The following are some basic tips on how to take care of your dog or cat post desexing surgery. They can also be applied to other surgical procedures as well but if in doubt always ask your vet!



    After surgery, you should feed your pet but give a smaller amount of food than usual. As they have been fasted before surgery, they might be extra hungry and eat too much or too fast! This can cause an upset stomach, which is probably already a little delicate due to lack of food plus the stress of surgery and anaesthesia (resulting in vomiting or diarrhoea). Please also note that it is not uncommon for pets to be “sore and sorry” after surgery and to refuse to eat on their return home although if this persists until the next morning veterinary advice should be sought.


    Pain killers

    Proper and adequate pain relief is vital to ensure a quick recovery! At the SPCA our desexing protocol includes a pain killer injection which lasts for 24 hours (as this is the most painful period of the recovery). However, some animals, just like people, are more sensitive to pain than others and what is a slight annoyance to one can be real suffering to another. Veterinary surgeons will always advise on additional pain relief for your pet to take home, it is vital that the pain relief is “tailor-made” to ensure their comfort.

    * NEVER self-medicate your pet with your pain-killers. Some human drugs are toxic and even fatal to pets.


    Wound Protection

    An “Elizabethan Collar” (also called an e-collar, pet cone, buster collar, or even the “Cone of Shame”!) will be recommended post-surgery. Most owners and pets find these collars very annoying, however, without it your pet will be able to lick or chew their surgical wound with disastrous results. It only takes a

    couple of minutes for a determined pet to remove its sutures and completely open its wound or simply cause an infection/inflammation through licking. The best advice is, though annoying, to keep the collar on at all times until the post-surgery check. It usually take 24 - 48 hours for your pet to get used to the inconvenience, and, please note, by constantly removing it and putting it back on you will make it harder for your pet to adjust! Also be aware some pets can have problems eating or drinking when wearing the collar. This issue can usually be solved by elevating the food/water bowl. If your pet is still having problems contact your veterinary surgeon, the collar might be a bit too long and probably needs to be adjusted.


    Type of Stitches

    Depending on the surgeon’s advice (and/or the owner’s request) your pet can have two types of stitches: either visible skin stitches that need to be removed after approximately 10 days, or intra-dermal/sub-cuticular stitches (which are hidden under the skin). Even if your pet has “hidden” sutures it is strongly advised to have a post-surgery check at 7-10 days to make sure the wound has healed properly.



    It takes around 10 days for the superficial skin sutures to heal after surgery. It is therefore essential that running and jumping is minimised during this period. Quiet, on-lead walking is fine unless advised against by your vet!


    Wound Care

    Until the surgical wound has fully healed, it is susceptible to infection. To prevent this it is imperative to keep the wound clean and dry. Showers, bathing or swimming should be avoided until the post-operative check and the veterinary surgeon gives the all clear. If the wound gets dirty or soiled, it should be gently cleaned with a diluted disinfectant such as chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine. Please ask your veterinary surgeon for advice if you are unsure.

    It is important to check the wound daily and, whilst a small amount of redness and swelling is often normal, any obvious redness or swelling, pain or discharge could indicate a problem. Basically if you are not sure visit your veterinary surgeon!


    Special Notes For Pocket Pets

    Rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs are also routinely desexed at the SPCA and there are some important differences to be noted with these species!


    Food and water:

    Unlike their cat and dog friends, these species must not be starved prior to surgery. Being herbivores these animals have a very different digestive tract and do not vomit! In addition lack of food can result in a life threatening condition called ileus where the guts stop working… to be avoided at all costs!


    Pain relief:

    Pocket pets are a prey species in their natural environment, this means they will not show pain in the same way as cats or dogs and are very good at hiding it.

    This is because in the wild predators tend to target the weaker animals showing signs of pain. Often the only sign of pain will be a lower appetite or not eating, and, as mentioned above, not eating even for a short period can have terrible effects on their digestion.

    At the SPCA we always recommend these small pets are sent home with painkiller medication for a few days to help prevent these very unpleasant issues.


    Dr Sylvain David
    Veterinary Surgeon  


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  • At the frontline  Dr Sylvain David, Fifi Lee, Angus Chiu & Ben Lau 18 - 19     

    Dr Sylvain David - Veterinary Surgeon (French)

    Before joining the SPCA, Dr Sylvain spent time as a volunteer vet in a Marine Mammals Rescue Team in the Philippines. One of his most unforgettable experiences – saving a stranded dolphin – began on the day of his arrival.

    “The dolphin was a very young male with a perfectly round head wound, a typical mark of a “cookie-cutter” shark attack. The poor little guy was too weak to swim to the surface of the water to breathe, so we had to stay in the water and hold him in our arms to keep him on the surface so he wouldn’t drown. It was two weeks before he could swim on his own – a two-week experience that was undoubtedly the most amazing I’ve had as a vet.”

    Whenever possible, Dr Sylvain has always tried to choose meaningful work. One reason for joining the SPCA was to be part of a team of like-minded people while maintaining high standards of animal care. He has also now started a new animal adventure… “As a long-term traveller I had had no pets. But I now care for “Garrus”, a friendly, wounded Corn Snake, fostered and now adopted from the SPCA.”

    If you admire these efforts for animal welfare, join us as a member and speak up for animals. Every contribution, however small, helps some needy animal.


    Fifi Lee - Kennel Keeper Supervisor

    As frontline employees, our kennel keepers (usually known as KKs) perform a variety of work in support of animal welfare, matching their abilities and personalities with the specific nature of the job at hand, be it in adoption, the surgical or medical recovery kennels, animal reception or boarding.

    Joining us in 1995, Fifi Lee has become one of our most experienced kennel keepers. “Despite working here for 20 years, the come-and-go of the animals still touches my heart. I recognise that humans have choices while animals rarely do, especially in the case of abandonment or abuse. As kennel keepers, our job is to try our best to provide them with good care before they finally find a home!”

    Insufficient manpower in the kennels has been a problem for the SPCA for years. Kennel keepers are very special people who work perseveringly and independently with dedication, initiative and patience, showing great devotion towards the animals. If this sounds like you, please consider joining us.


    Ben Lau - Volunteer Inspector

    A former dog handler in the Hong Kong Police Dog Unit, Ben Lau joined the SPCA in 2013, bringing with him a considerable understanding of canine behaviour. But working with the Inspectorate has allowed Ben to learn practical skills that he can apply to an assortment of situations.

    Among the rescues Ben has been involved in, the Ng Ka Tsuen prosecution case in Yuen Long has probably had the greatest impact on him. “I had never witnessed such an appalling situation in my 27-year-career in the police. We were confronted with 20 dead dogs strewn on the ground surrounded by countless other emaciated animals wading through four inches of excrement. But what impressed me most was the devotion of my experienced colleagues. They knew exactly what to do and were extremely motivating.”

    Ben often helps to communicate with different government departments in his volunteering work with the SPCA, and is acknowledged as a policeman and a volunteer inspector. He also helps to promote adoption in an effort to reduce the number of animals waiting for a home.


    Angus Chiu - Inspector

    People who have not met him before often take Angus Chiu to be a fireman, especially when he is wearing his dark blue SPCA Inspectorate uniform. He certainly has the physique! However, despite Angus’s experience and strength, rescuing cats that are trapped in high places still makes him nervous. 

    “One cat rescue case took place at height overlooking a highway. When I arrived, the cat was sitting ten storeys up and was totally out of reach.” Angus contacted the nearest fire station and asked if they would help by providing an aerial ladder. As Angus approached the cat, it got nervous and suddenly jumped, but fortunately landed in a tree nearby. Angus had predicted that this might happen and that the tree would be its “safety net”.

    Rescuing animals is always challenging and the sense of satisfaction is the reward. We are looking forward to welcoming more newcomers like Angus to the Inspectorate who work with perception and initiative.


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  • Latest work of SPCA   A Prison Catnip                                        20 

    A Prison Catnip

    The SPCA’s Cat Colony Care Programme (CCCP) was launched in 2000 and has helped over 50,000 street cats – neutering them for free and humanely managing significantly more stray cats than the government’s trap and remove approach. 

    On the morning of last August 29th, we found ourselves at the Ma Po Ping Prison and Tong Fuk Correctional Institution on Lantau Island, with forty cats lined up and ready for their desexing surgeries. The project was set in motion a few months earlier when Ma Po Ping Prison staff contacted the SPCA to express interest in controlling the prison’s feral cat population using the method of Trap, Neuter & Return (TNR). After meeting with prison staff, CCCP coordinator Calais Sin decided that we would conduct a prison “catnip”.

    For this special operation, we elected to use our mobile surgical unit in the Animal Welfare vehicle. This way, we could go to the cats instead of having them come to us and thus eliminate the stress that they would experience during the transport process. Moreover, moving cats to an SPCA clinic and then returning them would be challenging due to strict prison protocols. 

    When our lumbering vehicle finally arrived at the prison, the cats appeared to be in good condition and were not as feral as we thought. The inmates and staff were clearly very fond of these animals and looked after them with much care. However, the cats had already adapted to living outdoors and could not be easily rehomed. All forty of them were successfully neutered and returned to the prison that same day, with assurances from staff that they would be closely monitored.   

    The SPCA would like to thank the prison staff for their compassion and collaboration. With their assistance, the day went by without a hitch. The staff were also extremely generous and personally donated $3,000 to cover some of the costs for this event. A big thank you on behalf of all the cats they have helped to desex for giving these animals the opportunity to live healthy lives inside the prison without the stress of uncontrolled reproduction and unwanted litters. 

    (The SPCA does large scale desexing operations or “cat nips” under special circumstances. For more information, please refer to the cover story of Pawprint issue 93, “The Border Clowder”.) 

    To support us, you could donate to CCCP, and you are also most welcome to join us as a member. If you are taking care of street cats, the SPCA may be able to help desex them. You could contact our Cat Colony Care Programme coordinator on 2232 5513 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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  • Latest work of SPCA      Premiere of Short Films in Mainland China      21

    Promoting animal welfare to the general public:
    Premiere of short films in mainland China

    Currently, China has no animal-welfare laws or regulations. But thanks to social media, millions of people across the country now condemn those who abuse animals and exposure of cruelty cases is spreading virally. Unfortunately, China’s animal lovers do not have access to international standard animal welfare education. Their hearts are in the right place, but the actions they adopt might not always be in the best interests of the animals. Animal welfare groups still have a long fight ahead of them.

    Here in Hong Kong, animal welfare groups like the SPCA operate in an environment where animal welfare laws are already in place – though we are still lobbying for improvements – and animal welfare knowledge is readily available. It’s thus our responsibility to share our experience and knowledge with the general public in China to help the advance of animal welfare education there.

    Last year, SPCA (HK) and Tencent partnered to produce nine short films with the aim of promoting animal welfare on the mainland. The topics the movies cover include responsible pet ownership, animal cruelty, animal testing and bear-bile farming. We are very lucky to have had famous directors and films stars from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan join us, people such as Derek Yee, Gigi Leung, Karen Mok, Sun Li, Mavis Fan and another 20 celebrities, to contribute.

    The films were premiered in mainland China on 18 September 2014 in Dalian. Volunteers from a local animal welfare group in Dalian, Vshine, helped us organise the premiere, which attracted over 300 people.

    One of the most critical animal welfare issues in Dalian is the consumption of dog meat. Dog meat is still served at some restaurants in the city. One of the short films screened at the premiere, The Fool, is about this issue. The audience was moved to tears by the performance – a testament to the power of creative media in reaching the hearts and minds of large numbers of people.

    The film has now been seen online by over 4 million viewers in three months. Following is China success, we will host a premiere in Hong Kong in 2015.

    In tandem with the films being screened, we will continue to visit schools, shelters and other suitable places in China to spread the fundamental ideas of animal welfare.

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  • Happy ending                 In Loving Memory of Ginger                                  22

    In Loving Memory of  Ginger

    December 1997–October 2014 

    Ivanka and her husband Anthony had no intention of getting a dog in Hong Kong. For one thing, they had no idea how long they might be here. But one day Ivanka was asked by a teacher friend for help with a class visit to the SPCA as she knew a lot of the children would be desperate to take a pet home! 

    During the visit, every child wanted to stroke and pet the same dog at the same time, while one little puppy drew no attention.

    “She was sitting in her kennel, unperturbed by all the commotion, and with the doors wide open. As I stood safely back – I did not want to take a chance that I might actually like any puppy, let alone pet it – this puppy trotted out and sat on my foot. She repeated this on my subsequent two visits and my husband, Anthony, was “encouraged” to “investigate” why. It was obvious that the puppy had made up her mind and there was no way we could refuse.”

    Leaving the SPCA as Rose, the puppy was welcomed into her new home as Ginger. This had nothing to do with her coat colour, but with her extraordinarily long legs which brought to mind those of the dancer Ginger Rogers.

    It soon became obvious that playfulness, cheekiness, mischievousness and no small amount of stubbornness were Ginger’s overriding characteristics. The long legs gave her the speed of a greyhound, the beard and stubbornness were all terrier and the curly tail that of a true Hong Kong Original.

    “What was not obvious when we brought her home was her delicate health. She developed many acute and chronic ailments, some of which were life-threatening. She cheated death on so many occasions that a friend aptly described her as “a dog which has more lives than the average cat”. When in 2007 she survived poisoning on Black’s Link – by a whisker – we thought it was a genuine miracle and were immensely grateful. The years that followed were a bonus. And we cherished them all. On 31st October last year after a short but, as always, bravely fought battle her tormented body gave in. And we were left to grieve.”

    Ivanka and her family are extremely grateful to their many friends who over the years have been there for them and Ginger when they needed it, as well as to the several vets who so kindly treated Ginger.

    “We would like here to salute some of these: the lovely Angela, Grace and Denise, and the long-suffering Michael, who made Ginger’s last few years more comfortable and also made it possible for her to be with us for most of the 23 years that Hong Kong has been our home. To our gorgeous “Puppy” whom we loved so much and who loved us back even more, we offer this traditional Irish blessing.”  


    May the road rise up to meet you.

    May the wind be ever at your back.

    May the sun shine warm upon your face.

    And the rains fall soft upon your fields.


    Ivanka, Anthony and Ruth


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  • Awaiting adoption           Clifford, Mint, Lazzie, Mung Ngai          23

    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!

    The SPCA inspectors rescued me when I was just one month old, and my foster parents fostered me for two months in love and care. I am energetic and always ready to play, with both dogs and human friends. Come and share my joy.



    Gender: Male

    Age: 10 months old

    Number: 336576

    Location: Kowloon Centre

    I love to get out and I need a home where I could get enough exercise, just without children. I enjoy training and love to learn. Please come to visit and

    I can show you my new tricks!


    Mung Ngai

    Gender: Male

    Age: 5 years old

    Number: 303283

    Location: Kowloon Centre

    I am proud to be a grey and white crossbreed. My distinguished “coat” makes me a handsome dog and I know it! My two-legged friends always said I have a camera face and I enjoy not just being a model but hanging out with people and dogs. Come visit and see if it’s true.



    Gender: Male

    Age: 4 years old

    Number: 303282

    Location: Hong Kong Centre

    Some said I am a Chihuahua and some said I am a Pekingese, but I am actually a mongrel. I am quite shy at this moment but when you spend more time with me, you will know I am as sweet as my signature bucktooth that makes people smile.



    Gender: Male

    Age: 3 years old

    Number: 345990

    Location: Hong Kong Centre


    * All of them have been selected as candidates to receive one year of free Pet Care Insurance from Blue Cross.

    For more information, please go to


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  • Members’ corner    A Happy Paw-filled Saturday at Cyberport             24 – 25

    Members’ Event (March - May)

    Visit to Kadoorie Farm

    Join us on a Guided Tour of beautiful Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden and learn more about Hong Kong’s native wildlife, organic farming, a sustainable lifestyle and nature in general.

    Date:  March 28, 2015

    Time:            2pm - 4:30pm (organised transportation to Kadoorie Farm will leave from Kowloon Tong MTR Station at 1pm)

    Activity fee:   Members $120/Non-members $200 (covers round-trip transportation and the guided tour)

    Capacity:      30

    To sign up:   Please call our Membership Department on 2232 5548 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

    Remarks:      As this is a Member Event, each participating member can sign up one non-member only.


    Dog Grooming Workshop

    Date :           21-Mar (Sat), conducted in Cantonese

                         11-Apr (Sat), conducted in English

    Time :           2:30pm - 4pm

    Fee :             $180(members only)

    Registration :


    Cat Grooming Workshop

    Date :           28-Mar-2015(Sat), conducted in Cantonese

                         18-Apr-2015(Sat), conducted in English

    Time :            2:30pm - 4pm

    Fee :             $180(members only)

    Registration :


    Horseback Riding Family Day (Date to be confirmed)

    Geriatric Cat Workshop (Date to be confirmed)


    Member Activity Report:

    A Happy Paw-Filled Saturday at Cyberport

    Generously helped by the loan of the “Kakato” Pet Bus, we invited 30 life members and their dogs to join us with three of our homing dogs in a gathering at the Cyberport Waterfront Park on November 29, 2014.

    We were blessed with a warm and sunny day, which enabled the dogs to run freely in the park and our members to enjoy some organised introductory games, refreshments and a sharing session on behaviour and training.

    “I was so happy to see my dogs running around on the grass and socialising with so many other dogs in such an attractive environment, while I could talk and share experiences with the other invited members,” said Jayne, a long-term life member who brought three lovely dogs adopted from the SPCA to the event. It is always rewarding to hear happy-ending stories of our four-legged old friends.

    We will organise more social activities in the future to meet the needs of other members.


    Free Gifts for New Members

    From now until April 30, 2015 new members will receive a Goody Bag (valued at $398) on membership application. Existing members who refer a friend to join us as a new member will receive a member-to-member gift of an animal bracelet from n i i n (worth $299). 

    Goody Bags contain pet food samples sponsored by MARS HK and specially crafted SPCA gift items. They are available while stocks last. The SPCA reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions of this promotion.


    For Members Only

    For more than 90 years, the SPCA has lived up to its name and played a very important role in the prevention of cruelty to animals. Sometimes this cruelty is intentional but often it results from negligence. Our mission is to prevent any needless animal suffering whatever its cause. Joining us as a member greatly helps us in this work and we would like to express our sincere thanks to all our members for giving us your continuing support. Your concern for animals is what motivates us to work harder for the homeless and those otherwise in need, and in doing so to serve you better. Please invite your friends to join us so we can do even more in helping Hong Kong’s animals.


    New Benefit for Members

    By presenting a valid Membership Card, Junior Members will receive a 10% discount from Greenery Music on the purchase of musical instruments (Chinese and Western), pianos, strings, accessories, music scores, CDs and stationery (except lessons, fixed-price & special-price items).



    This offer is valid until December 31, 2015. Greenery Music Ltd reserves the right of final decision on the use of the offer.


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