Animal Watch Scheme

Under the Animal Watch Scheme, Police, SPCA and AFCD worked together to raid a suspected puppy farm.Under the Animal Watch Scheme, Police, SPCA and AFCD worked together to raid a suspected puppy farm.

In October 2011, in order to enhance the capability and effectiveness in tackling animal cruelty, the Hong Kong Police initiated the "Animal Watch Scheme" to formalise the working relationship between the Police, SPCA and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).

The scheme provides increased awareness, cooperation, liaison, exchange of information and intelligence, training and sharing of experience, and coordination amongst all involved with a view to further improving efficiency.

In addition, the Society for Abandoned Animals (SAA), the Hong Kong Veterinary Association (HKVA) and the China (Hong Kong) Veterinary Association (CHKVA) have also been invited to join the Scheme.

Although the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Legislations comes under the Food and Health Bureau with the AFCD being the primary enforcement agency, the police is also empowered to enforce this legislation under the law. 

SPCA IS VERY EXPERIENCED IN INVESTIGATING SUSPECTED ANIMAL CRUELTY

For many years, members of the public have requested the SPCA to investigate suspected animal cruelty allegations, entrusting the Inspectorate to distinguish whether an offence has been committed and, if so, for cases to be referred to the Police or the AFCD for further investigation, or to initiate prosecution procedure. Inter-agency collaboration has thus became common, especially in more complicated and serious cases as well as in those that require prosecution.

Members of the public may make a choice of reporting suspected animal cruelty cases either to the Police, the AFCD or the SPCA to conduct initial investigations. Under the scheme, Police will carry out initial investigation if a report is made directly to Police. The Police may call either the SPCA Inspectorate or the AFCD Officers to the scene to assist.

The benefit of such a collaboration is that each agency combines their unique technical expertise, experience and resources to build a case in a systematic and scientific manner.

Animal Watch Scheme in action - collaboration of Police, AFCD AND SPCA

  • Police
  • AFCD
  • SPCA
  • Prosecution Case
  • Accident Case

Reports of cruelty to animals will be investigated by police officers from crime investigation teams. Often, animal cruelty cases are handled by the the district precinct involved. District police teams are best placed to make enquiries and conduct investigations due to their in-depth knowledge of the area.

The principal role of the police is to provide expertise in crime investigation and to process the crime scene. 

The police will:

  • Make arrests
  • Seize exhibits
  • Question suspects
  • Compile evidence for the Department of Justice prosecution team

AFCD Tai Lung Veterinary LaboratoryAFCD Tai Lung Veterinary LaboratoryThe Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) is the primary government department responsible for animal matters. It has the power to conduct independent investigations, make arrests and instigate prosecutions. 

In cases of animal cruelty, the AFCD's principal roles have been to:

  • Conduct post-mortem investigation and provide an animal veterinary pathology service
  • Provide animal holding facilities for seized animals from large scale raids
  • Enforce animal related law especially in animal trading or animal holding facilities where animal cruelty or neglect has been reported.

Seized puppies from a joint undercover operation by SPCA, Police and AFCD receiving treatment at SPCA headquarters.Seized puppies from a joint undercover operation by SPCA, Police and AFCD receiving treatment at SPCA headquarters.The SPCA runs a 24 hour hotline for the public to report animal cruelty.

After preliminary investigation, if inspectors find that further investigation is necessary, the SPCA will work with the police and the AFCD to pursue further action.

Similarly, the SPCA Inspectorate is often called to the scene by the Police and AFCD to offer assistance in possible animal cruelty cases.

Investigating animal cruelty can be a long process from when the animals are first seized to when a verdict has been reached and the animals are finally released by the court. During the process of investigation and evidence gathering, animals also need to be treated and looked after for the duration of the case.

In animal cruelty cases, the SPCA's principal roles are to:

  • Assist in evidence collection and documentation
  • Provide expert testimony
  • Provide medical care and hospitalisation for seized animals that require treatment
  • Care for seized animals till a judgement has been made

The majority of rescue, treatment and care costs of seized animals by the SPCA
is covered by our donors.

Dog Beaten on Roof Top

May - October 2012

What Happened

21 May 2012

"Spring Roll" on the roof top."Spring Roll" on the roof top.A video from a local newspaper revealed that a man in Yuen Long had been beating his dog, (named "Spring Roll" after rescue by SPCA). The sender of the video claimed this had being going on for over a year. However, the video itself was not clear enough to determine if the man was actually beating his dog or if he was hitting the ground. Watch the video of Spring Roll's abuse.

Under the Animal Watch Scheme, the police and the SPCA collaborated in this investigation to determine if Spring Roll was a victim of cruelty.

During the three months of investigation till prosecution, Spring Roll was treated and looked after by the SPCA. Two months after the case ended, a new family adopted her from the SPCA!

Investigation and Evidence
KEY WITNESS
  • The cane used by the abuser.The cane used by the abuser.A witness was located through the joint effort of the SPCA Inspectorate and the Police, who confirmed that the man had been beating his dog for more than a year. He also provided the full version of the original video that had been featured in the newspaper.
CORROBORATIVE, SUPPORTING EVIDENCE
  • A cane, which was used by the defendant to beat the dog.
  • Statements given by the SPCA Inspector and the police officer who carried out the investigation and seized the exhibits.
VETERINARY EXAMINATION 
  • The veterinary examination by SPCA did not reveal any fresh injuries on Spring Roll that would corroborate the beatings shown on the video.
EXPERT WITNESS 
  • SPCA invited dog behaviour and temperament expert, Dr. Cynthia Smillie BVM&S PG Dip CABC MRCVS, who examined the dog, the video and testified as an expert witness in court.
Outcome  Convicted

31 August 2012

Although the veterinary examination did not reveal evidence that would corroborate the beating in the video, the testimony and video footage from the key witness, the expert witness and the corroborative evidence all helped make this case. 

  • "Spring Roll" at SPCA, ready for a new life!"Spring Roll" at SPCA, ready for a new life!Spring Roll's owner was charged with animal cruelty, and received a permanent mark on his criminal record.
  • He was fined $2,500.
  • The court ordered Spring Roll be removed to the care of SPCA.

30 October 2012

Spring Roll was successfully rehomed by the SPCA and now lives with her new family!

Cat in two halves

March 2012

WHAT HAPPENED

Police and SPCA investigate the case.Police and SPCA investigate the case.A witness saw a man stop his white van on the roadside in Yuen Long. The man then lifted the front passenger seat and threw out two objects, before driving off. The objects were later found to be two halves of a cat.

The witness reported the incident and the registration number of the van to the Police.

Under the Animal Watch scheme, the SPCA Inspectorate was called in for assistance. A preliminary inspection of the body by SPCA Inspectors indicated that the cat had not been cut in half and could possibly be an accident. 

INVESTIGATION AND EVIDENCE
SUSPECT STATEMENT 

The Police located the driver, who revealed that having started and driven the van for a while, he heard some strange noises coming from the engine compartment under the seat. He then stopped the van and checked the compartment and found the cat dead and trapped inside. When he pulled out the carcass, it was torn into two parts.

CORROBORATIVE/ SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

SPCA Inspectors and the police found some bloodstains and cat fur left inside the engine compartment.

POST-MORTEM EXAMINATION

The body of the cat was sent to the AFCD Veterinary Laboratory for post-mortem examination. There were no significant findings.

OUTCOME ACCIDENT

Due to the corroborative evidence found within the engine compartment and no conclusive findings in the post-mortem examination, this case was classified as an accident.