Current practice: "Catch and Kill"

For many decades, Hong Kong has relied on a removal methodology that is effectively one of "Catch and Kill" to deal with the stray animal population.

However, this method is a reactive one, based on public complaints and has not been shown to be effective.

There is no evidence that the removal of dogs alone has ever had a significant impact on dog population densities…even the highest recorded removal rates (about 15% of the dog population) are easily compensated by increased survival rates."

-World Health Organisation, Consultation on Rabies, Geneva, 2004.

Using a Catch and Kill methodology alone will not solve Hong Kong's roaming, unowned (stray and feral) animal overpopulation or the problems that they create. As long as stray and feral animals continue to reproduce in the community, the problems they cause will remain a source of conflict.

Why is "Catch & Kill" a failure?
  • Dogs and cats have a high reproduction rate and can produce up to 1 to 2 litters a year, of up to 10 puppies. Cats, on average produce 2 litters a year, of up to 6 kittens.
  • Stray and feral animals have high mortality and poor welfare.
  • For every stray animal born that survives, at least two more died, probably within the first two months of life.
  • In addition to the over 10,000 roaming, unowned animals killed annually, some 30,000 plus others also do not survive due to factors such as malnutrition, aggression from other animals, road traffic accidents and disease.


With Catch and Kill, animals must be caught and killed every year to control the population.
In 2009, the cost to the HK Government of capturing, keeping and euthanising stray dogs and cats
was about HK$30 million.

Why Doesn't Catch and Kill Work?

  • Before Capture
  • Capture
  • After Capture


The number of animals in that environment will remain the same as long as there are enough resources to support them such as food, shelter and mates.

The environment has a fixed amount of resources that can support a fixed population. This is called the "carrying capacity".

When animals are removed, more resources become available. The population of animals will continue to grow until "carrying capacity" can be reached again. A “vacuum effect” is created as there are now fewer animals using the resources available. This will attract animals from surrounding areas with fewer resources. 


  • The remaining animals and new animals moving in may produce more offspring.*
  • More offspring might survive as more resources are available to support them.*
  • This will also result in more fighting and barking as new animals seek to establish themselves in the area for mates and food. 

*This is a well recognised phenomenon in population dynamics and ecology known as “competitive release”.