Issue 83 - 2011/5

Issue 83 - 2011/5

Contents

  • Happenings     2 – 3
  • Raid in Lau Fau Shan Uncovers Massive Abuse     4 – 7
  • Happy Endings     8
  • Steel and Cage Traps Still a Danger to Animals in Hong Kong    9
  • Japan Earthquake Update   10 – 12
  • Wild Justice and Moral Intelligence in Animals      13
  • Wild Rescues in Hong Kong’s Urban Environment     14 – 15
  • Vet’s Case Book     16
  • Vet Profile     17
  • Physiotherapy for PETS     17
  • Vet facts      18
  • Inspector Bob Looks Back… and to the future     19
  • SPCA Case files     20 – 22
  • Kennel Keeper Profile     23
  • Doggie Day Out     24 – 25
  • Crowd Pleasing Animals?    28

 


(text only version)

  • Happenings                                                                                           2 – 3

    Hong Kong rocks with the Originals

    In a city where brand names are so important, Hong Kong Originals stands out as a campaign for the unbranded, the mongrel or “tong gau”. Twenty-seven local celebrities came together to be featured in a photo exhibition called Hong Kong Originals, where they were featured with a tong gau in an iconic Hong Kong scene. The photo exhibitions were held at Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay, Lee Theatre Plaza at Causeway Bay, The One at Tsim Sha Tsui and Citywalk at Tsuen Wan. Advertising from the campaign appears in major newspapers and magazines. Our thanks to major sponsors Hills Pet Nutrition and Oregon Scientific as well as Helen Griffith of Fluid who provided the creative and art direction for the advertisements, and a special thanks to Ali Bullock of Animals in Photos who originated this concept.

     

    Family Wag ’N’ Walk raises $400,000 for New Territories Operation Base

    It was Fido’s day out as SPCA held its annual signature event, the Family Wag ’N’ Walk on Sunday March 27. Over 1,200 people with 450 dogs gathered at the barbeque park at Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung on a pleasant and surprisingly cool day. Most walkers finished the long walk of 6 kilometers and returned to the start point where an indie band, Listen Up, played improv and jazz versions of favourite hits. Special thanks to celebrities and VIPs who showed up including Gary Chan Hak Kan, Jocelyn Sandstrom, Michael Tse Tin Wah, Rosemary Vandenbroucke, Sharon Kwok and the Family Wag ’N’ Walk ambassador Poman Lo.

     

    76 pets find new homes at SPCA Pet Adoptathon

    April 30 and May 1 mark the Annual Pet Adoptathon where shelters across the city open their doors to visitors. All five SPCA homing centres extended their operating hours and spruced up their occupants to look their very best. At the Wanchai Centre, visitors were taken on guided tours of the veterinary facilities and bought SPCA souvenirs and items from the charity booth. At the same time, Hills Pet Nutrition sponsored a contest “Second Chance for Love” where adopters were encouraged to send a mobile clip of their pet in a lovable pose.

     

    Extending Learning Opportunities with Exhibition

    While continuing to pursue our mission of teaching the concept of responsible pet care to school students through regular educational talks, we were given new scope to spread the message last November with our 3-week exhibition at the Central Oasis Gallery. Using exhibition boards and interactive educational games, we extended the learning landscape to a new audience.

    A group of prefects at St Mary’s Canossian College who had attended the exhibition at the Central Oasis invited the Education team to organise a similar exhibition on the theme of “Be a Responsible Pet Owner” at their school from February 20 to 24.

    Using our informative educational panels display, the students took the initiative to design quizzes, booth games and provide prizes for their classmates and parents during their School Parents’ Day. Participants not only had a good time, but through the games were able to learn the value of taking responsibility for pet-caring in the community.

    In addition, we have chance to fund-raise for our animal-welfare programmes. The generous donations and genuine concern expressed by teachers, parents and students to use the event to spread the message of kindness to animals was greatly appreciated.

    For the students who took part, this kind of new learning opportunity will certainly instill a sense of responsibility. If anyone is interested in mounting a similar exhibition at a school or institution, please contact our Education Department at 2232 5541.

     

    SPCA raises over $920,000 for Japan Earthquake animal victims

    The March 11 earthquake in Japan sent shockwaves across the globe. As rescue efforts get underway, SPCA has been in touch with the major animal welfare organisations in the country. We have been informed that their greatest need is financial, as displaced and found animals need to be cared for, and emergency shelters set up. Thanks to a group of Hong Kong-based Japanese, the Society was able to raise and send off emergency financial contributions to the Japan Animal Welfare Society, which is coordinating animal rescue efforts. Our thanks go to all who have donated, and to volunteers who have helped in this relief effort.

     

    See Dr Nori’s diary on page 10 for a ground report of the relief effort.

     

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  • Raid in Lau Fau Shan Uncovers Massive Abuse                                  4 – 7

    SPCA’s Dr Fiona Woodhouse held the dog’s paw and eased it away from the sharp jaws of the pliers. With a snap the wire gave way and the poor dog was at last freed from the rusty floor of the cage it had the misfortune to call home. Fiona’s relief was short-lived though because the rescue of this wire-entangled dog was just one small part a much larger operation: the confiscation of 149 caged dogs discovered at a Lau Fau Shan plot during a police raid on September 3rd. 

     

    RAID:  CRUELTY CASES UNCOVERED, PROSECUTED

    With the decision taken to pursue arrests and confiscate the dogs, teams from the SPCA, AFCD and the police worked together to collect evidence, locate the defendants and seize the dogs as case exhibits.

    The raid had come about due to a lengthy investigation carried out by the SPCA Inspectorate earlier in the year. Due to the sensitivity of the operation, the police had taken over surveillance operations at the high-fenced plot, and later obtained a warrant to enter the premises early on that grey morning in September. Shortly after, they called in the SPCA to professionally assess, document and advise on the welfare of the multitude of caged dogs discovered.

    On investigation many were found to be suffering both mentally and physically due to inadequate care and permanent confinement in small, dirty cages stacked three high. Some of the dogs swayed from side to side through boredom while others spun frantically on the spot, their overgrown claws tapping on the rusty wire flooring. Skin conditions and overgrown coats were rife, and almost all of the dogs were filthy.

     

    Tony Ho, Chief Officer

    Inspectorate, was at the scene shortly after the raid and commented on the establishment. “It is highly likely that this is a breeding establishment as all the dogs are pure breeds, and we suspect a number to be pregnant. It is obvious from the conditions that the priority is profit and not welfare.” He added, “Many of these dogs have not been provided with an adequate environment, some are suffering from untreated illnesses and are displaying signs of psychological suffering. This is clearly a case of cruelty to animals.”

    With the decision taken to pursue arrests and confiscate the dogs, teams from the SPCA, AFCD and the police worked together to collect evidence, locate the defendants and seize the dogs as case exhibits. The process of assessment, veterinary examination, identification and transfer of the 149 dogs from the site carried on well into the rainy night.

    Over 50 of the sickest dogs were sent to the SPCA Wanchai centre where another team of staff were waiting to provide a secondary veterinary checkup and provide treatment and care. One of the veterinary surgeons on duty that night, Dr Alistair Denton, was appalled by the suffering. “It’s clear from the conditions of these dogs that their welfare was seriously neglected”, he said. “But they are lovely dogs, really friendly, which just makes the conditions they suffered all the more enraging.”

    Over the next few weeks, while the police assembled the evidence and brought a case to the courts, the SPCA and the AFCD were responsible for the care of the dogs. A number of them were indeed pregnant, and their pups were born soon after, swelling the numbers to 189, putting an extra burden on the already strained resources of both organisations. Vivian Or, the Welfare Supervisor, helped with the difficult task of caring for the dogs held at the SPCA during this time. She, along with many other SPCA staff, had to go the extra mile to ensure the needs of all the dogs, especially the puppies, could be met. “Since their arrival all the dogs have settled in but it’s a huge job to look after them all, especially the young puppies!” she reported, adding: “It’ll be well worth it in the long run if their future welfare is ensured.”

    Cruelty cases can be very complicated and can take many months, sometimes years, to complete; and all too often the confiscated animals have to remain in special care for the duration. So the news on April 6th that the owner of the plot had been convicted was most welcome by all at the SPCA. The day will forever be an important milestone in the lives of the 189 dogs as completion of the case meant that they became available for adoption into new and caring homes. SPCA expressed appreciation of the Department of Justice and the Judiciary for helping to ensure that the prosecution case could be concluded within a reasonable period of time. Although the SPCA was happy with the result for these dogs, this case does highlight the fact that present laws governing this activity are grossly inadequate and that the SPCA urges a review of present animal welfare laws.

    At the time of writing, less than two weeks after the conviction, the SPCA has already homed almost half of the dogs, and the rest are expected to find homes soon. For the future, we can only hope that the events of September 3rd and the ruling on April 6th were not only important for these 189 dogs but that they marked another positive step in animal welfare in Hong Kong, leading eventually to better legislation governing the welfare of companion animals and also the breeding and trading of them.

     

    An Appeal

    The SPCA would like to make two appeals:

    First, for anyone who is thinking of buying a dog, please take into consideration where these dogs could have come from (from mothers being abused like those in this case) and instead to consider adoption from reputable animal welfare organisations.

    Secondly, for those who wish to trade or breed animals, do it properly and humanely. License your business and your establishment in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong and ensure your animals are humanely treated.

     

    The SPCA strives to prevent suffering such as that experienced by these rescued dogs, but we need your help. These confiscation operations are very expensive; in this case we estimate it cost HK$16,000 per dog! So please support our work and make a donation – every dollar helps. www.spca.org.hk/eng/donate/donate.asp

     

    Take action

    Please consider donating to help the SPCA carry out this important work.

     

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  • Happy Endings                                                                                      8

    Lau Fau Shan Happy Ending

    Meet Polly, a Burmese Mountain Dog

    When Alex Leung paid a visit to the SPCA to look for a golden retriever to adopt, he was happily surprised to meet Polly, a Burmese Mountain dog recently rescued from the illegal breeding farm in Lau Fau Shan. After life in a small, dirty cage with little care, Polly now thoroughly enjoys going for walks in the great outdoors, her new home and caring family. Initially Polly was very reserved and kept her tail down, but after a few days aclimating to her new surroundings she has become more gregarious with other dogs and is slowly becoming at ease around other people, Alex said.  

    One of the challenges Alex and Polly encountered following her adoption was that Polly had never used stairs before, so for the first few days it would take the two 30-40 minutes to climb the stairs to their fifth floor walk-up flat—and the same amount of time coming down. After a few days of practice, Polly was running up the stairs with Alex.

    Patience is the key, especially with Burmese Mountain dogs, said Alex, who has been researching the breed in order to learn the best way to train Polly and help her adapt to her new home. Polly really enjoys the outdoors, so much so that she has taken to sleeping on the roof terrace.  However, Alex wants to train her to sleep indoors at least during the hot summer months to prevent any dangers from heat related problems, such as dehydration and heat stroke.

    Help us give happy endings to dogs liberated from the Lau Fau Shan breeding farm. Adopt from SPCA!

     

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  • Steel and Cage Traps Still a Danger to Animals in Hong Kong             9

    SPCA Inspectors struggled up the slope through the dense bushes towards the sound of a dog in distress – eventually they found the small puppy HuiBor – another victim of a horrific gin trap. Her front leg was caught in the steel trap with its teeth digging in to the flesh – her bone broken. The Inspectors carefully feed the puppy and sent her to the SPCA hospital for treatment.  The trap was also removed and sent to the AFCD Conservation Department for subsequent case investigation and destruction.

    Steel gin traps date back to the late 16th century and are a truly barbaric device used historically to hunt wild animals. Today they are banned in may countries as a result of the extreme pain and suffering inflicted on animals they catch, so it is of great concern that in Hong Kong today it is not uncommon for the Inspectors to come across these and other hunting appliances in bushy undergrowth across the New Terrtories even in Midlevels in Hong Kong Island.

    Some of the gin traps appear to be old, forgotten devices that have lain in wait for their prey – rusting away over the decades until some unsuspecting animal happens to tread on the pressure pad – triggering the sprung jaws. Any animal could be caught – a human out hiking, a wild deer or boar, a dog walking with its master. Worryingly – although such appliances have been directly regulated in Hong Kong since 1970’s through the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance and indirectly by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance since the 1930’s, many of the traps show signs of modern repair and improvement. This means that such traps are still illegally being laid – putting people and animals at risk everyday.

    Gin traps aren’t the only signs of hunting that our Inspectors and Conservation officers come across – cage traps (large and small) can also be seen – these may be baited with fruit and are likely targeting a vast range of species from boar to tortoises. Mist nets have been found strung between trees – targeting wild animals that fly. The reason behind the illegal use of such devices can only be the subject of speculation – are the animals hunted for food, trophies, pest control or illegal trade?

    For Hui Bor there was eventually a happy ending – her broken leg was repaired but during rehabilitation it was evident that the steel jaws had irreparably damaged the nerves. This meant that eventually her front leg had to amputated. After a couple of months of rehabilitation and recuperation Hui Bor found a loving home and is now known as Meg and lives a happy life in Sai Kung.

    If you are out hiking and come across any hunting devices please contact the AFCD on 1823 or if you find any injured or trapped animals please contact the SPCA 24 hour hotline on 2711 1000.

    Please help us to protect animals - wild or otherwise.

     

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  • Japan Earthquake Update                                                                    10 – 12

    Dr. Nori’s Diary

    Who could have imagined such a large earthquake would strike and cause a huge tsunami beyond anyone’s expectations?

    Official government figures estimate more than 13,000 people lost their lives and 15,000 are yet to be accounted for. In addition 150,000 have been forced to seek refuge elsewhere in the country. In the aftermath people are starting to piece together their lives as they attempt to relocate their missing family, friends and in some cases beloved pets.

    Using the experience gained from the 1995 Kobe earthquake, animal welfare organisations including the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS) and

    Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) formed the Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Emergencies (HRAE). The HRAE works closely with the Ministry of Environment as well as prefectural administrations in providing funds, staff and relief goods for animals in need.

    Back in Hong Kong the SPCA were keen to reach out and help animals affected by the earthquake. With a group of Japanese volunteers we were able to raise more than HK$ 900,000 to send to the disaster area. I was appointed the SPCA representative to establish contacts with JAWS and visit the disaster area to observe animal welfare conditions and see how our funds were being used.

     

    Here is a diary of what for me was a very emotional and eye opening experience:

    Day 1

    I headed to Tokyo on an early morning, not knowing what to expect. My brief, apart from observing the situation in the disaster area was to establish a solid relationship with the Japanese welfare groups.

    Unfortunately, my scheduled meeting with the director and chief vet of JAWS was postponed to the next day, due to an emergency meeting between the HRAE and Ministry of Environment to discuss the fate of animals remaining in the evacuated 20km radius of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. I was, however, lucky enough to be allowed to observe the meeting.

     

    Day 2

    Another early start to meet with JAWS staff; I spent most of the day discussing disaster operations and gained a deep insight into what really goes behind the scenes.

    I learnt about….

    Amazing rescue stories (both human and animal) and of the increased demand for animal management facilities to accommodate these lucky survivors.

    Logistical nightmares such as petrol shortages in the weeks after the disaster, hindering the transport of donated goods and equipment. In the past six weeks more than HK$30 million had been donated by various individuals and charities both within and outside Japan. 

    Three sites had been identified in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to build semi-permanent animal rescue centres.

    The biggest obstacle after money was the state of confusion and panic of local governments caused by nuclear radiation. 

    Animal NGOs have been entering the restricted 20km zone around the nuclear plant, rescuing animals. This had created a nightmare regarding recording where the animals were taken from and to; essential in eventually trying to repatriate the animals with their owners. HRAE were establishing a national database that aimed to bring lost pet and owner together.

    Later in the day I visited the Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), where I was given a detailed explanation of how donated funds were being used to benefit animals affected by the disaster.

    That night, Tokyo was shaken by frightening aftershocks.......

     

    Day 3

    I had long anticipated the day I would visit the disaster area with a mixture of excitement and fear.  Dr. Yamaguchi accompanied me, although she had not had a single day off since the earthquake!

    I woke before sunrise and caught the first Shinkansen (bullet train) heading north. Due to damage from the earthquake, the track north of Fukushima was under repair so we changed to a local train to reach Sendai.

    Upon arrival we were greeted by local animal NGO staff, who showed us around facilities in Sendai and Ishinomaski - the worst affected city, where at least 4000 people lost their lives. Sendai city itself was business as usual, although as we headed towards the coast, signs of damage were still vivid; a bumpy ride on a newly constructed highway, electricity wire posts standing at 45-degree angles and numerous roofs without tiles.

    Our first destination was an Animal Rescue Centre in Ishinomaki built on land provided by a local utility company. It consisted of a caravan functioning as a consultation room, kitchen, staff room, surgery room and a store! Prefabricated buildings contained separate dog, cat and isolation wards. The facility housed two types of animals, those with owners who were living nearby, and those without. There were at least three veterinary surgeons working at the time of my visit; I spoke to the chief vet who told me “everyone working here are volunteers; they have come from far and wide to help.”

    After lunch, we headed to Sendai City Animal Management Centre, a local government facility that has been housing displaced dogs and cats. Everyday volunteers come to bathe, groom, feed, walk and generally try to reduce the stress levels of these unfortunate animals. Dr. Kameda, the chief vet is concerned a significant proportion of the animals were showing signs of anxiety that could lead to aggression and illnesses including diarrhoea and urinary tract disease. A big “adoption and fostering day” was being planned to provide opportunities for animals to be fostered (those still waiting for original owners to claim) or be adopted by new owners (those given up by their owner or with no owner). The centre also provided space for owners to write down their lost pets’ details. It was heartbreaking to see the list; the number of missing pets was enormous.

    I was told the HRAE was working in collaboration with local governments and organisations to start building facilities to temporarily house displaced people and their pets - a much needed step forward.

     

    Day 4

    It was time for me to head back to Tokyo. On the way to Sendai Airport (which only re-opened for civilian use two weeks earlier) I was again reminded of how enormous the devastation was. Piles of rubble lined the roads and the entire area close to the coast had been literally flattened. Even in the worst affected region I was amazed at the sense of calm and order; life needs to go on.

    Despite my limited time, I was able to gain insight into how animals were being managed and funds put to use. I also had the opportunity to consolidate my contacts with welfare organisations in Japan that will be an asset to the SPCA in the future.

    I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped me on my journey, in particular Dr. Yamaguchi and Mr. Sakurai of JAWS, who kindly offered their time to brief and accompany me despite their enormously busy schedules. Finally, thank you to everyone who has kindly donated for animals in Japan you have helped.

     

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  • Wild Justice and Moral Intelligence in Animals                                     13

    Wild Justice and Moral Intelligence in Animals

    By Marc Bekoff

    A teenage female elephant nursing an injured leg is knocked over by a rambunctious hormone-laden teenage male. An older female sees this happen, chases the male away, and goes back to the younger female and touches her sore leg with her trunk. Eleven elephants rescue a group of captive antelope in KwaZula-Natal; the matriarch elephant undoes all of the latches on the gates of the enclosure with her trunk and lets the gate swing open so the antelope can escape. A rat in a cage refuses to push a lever for food when it sees that another rat receives an electric shock as a result. A male Diana monkey who learned to insert a token into a slot to obtain food helps a female who can’t get the hang of the trick, inserting the token for her and allowing her to eat the food reward. A female fruit-eating bat helps an unrelated female give birth by showing her how to hang in the proper way.

    Do these examples show that animals display moral behaviour, that they can be compassionate, empathic, altruistic, and fair? Yes they do. Animals not only have a sense of justice, but also a sense of empathy, forgiveness, trust, reciprocity, and much more as well.

    Scientific research has shown that mice display empathy - they feel the pain of other mice and change their behaviour. In this compelling story CeAnn Lambert, director of the Indiana Coyote Rescue Center, saw that two baby mice had become trapped in the sink and were unable to scramble up the slick sides. They were exhausted and frightened. CeAnn filled a small lid with water and placed it in the sink. One of the mice hopped over and drank, but the other was too exhausted to move and remained crouched in the same spot. The stronger mouse found a piece of food and picked it up and carried it to the other. As the weaker mouse tried to nibble on the food, the stronger mouse moved the morsel closer and closer to the water until the weaker mouse could drink. CeAnn created a ramp with a piece of wood and the revived mice were soon able to scramble out of the sink.

    The social lives of many animals are strongly shaped by affiliative and cooperative behaviour. Also consider wolves. For a long time researchers thought that pack size was regulated by available food resources. Wolves typically feed on prey such as elk and moose, both of which are bigger than an individual wolf. Successfully hunting such large ungulates usually takes more than one wolf, so it makes sense to postulate that wolf packs evolved because of the size of wolves’ prey. However, long-term research by David Mech showed that pack size in wolves is regulated by social and not food-related factors. Mech discovered that the number of wolves who can live together in a coordinated pack is governed by the number of wolves with whom individuals can closely bond (the “social attraction factor”) balanced against the number of individuals from whom an individual could tolerate competition (the “social competition factor”). Packs and their codes of conduct break down when there are too many wolves.

    Fairness is also an important part of social life of animals. Researchers Sarah Brosnan, Frans de Waal, and Hillary Schiff discovered what they call “inequity aversion” in Capuchin monkeys, a highly social and cooperative species in which food sharing is common. These monkeys, especially females, carefully monitor equity and fair treatment among peers. Individuals who are short-changed during a bartering transaction by being offered a less preferred treat refuse to cooperate with researchers. The Capuchins expect to be treated fairly.

    Animals are incredibly adept social actors: they form intricate networks of relationships and live by rules of conduct that maintain social balance, or what we call social homeostasis. Humans should be proud of their citizenship in the animal kingdom. We’re not the sole occupants of the moral arena.

     

    Animals are incredibly adept social actors: they form intricate networks of relationships and live by rules of conduct that maintain social balance.

     

    Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, is a columnist for Change.org.

     

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  • Wild Rescues in Hong Kong’s Urban Environment                               14 – 15

    Despite Hong Kong’s reputation as a concrete jungle, it is home to a surprising range of wild animals.

    Sometimes it is better to leave wildlife alone even if it does seem to be out of place.

    A recent review of the SPCA’s wildlife figures has revealed that almost 1200 injured wildlife casualties were rescued by the Inspectorate between 1996 and 2010. It also showed that 44% of these casualties had been successfully rehabilitated and released to be given a second chance of survival in the wild.

    It might come as a shock to some that Hong Kong’s “concrete jungle” has such prolific wildlife to rescue, but those more aware of its green side know that it is home to a diverse array of wild animals. In fact, the wildlife in Hong Kong can keep even the keenest naturalist satisfied, the numbers speaking for themselves: 500 species of bird, over 50 species of mammals, over 100 species of reptiles and amphibians, several hundred species of invertebrates and thousands of plant species.

    The SPCA has long played an important role in the rescue of injured and displaced wildlife, the SPCA Inspectors being the first responders to reports of wildlife casualties. Attending these casualties falls directly into the SPCA’s remit of reducing unnecessary suffering by providing shelter and care. Too often these wild animals are in trouble directly as a result of humans, they may have been hit by cars, flown into windows, or become trapped in man-made structures. Others have ended up crash-landing in an urban environment while on migration, been affected by poor weather conditions or simply not had the experience and ability to survive in the naturally competitive environment they inhabit.

    The first priority for the SPCA Inspectors on arrival to a casualty is to identify the species and to ensure it actually needs rescuing. Sometimes it is better to leave wildlife alone even if it does seem to be out of place, particularly in the case of young birds as the parents are often nearby and still caring for them. Once the Inspectors have established help is needed they have to catch the casualty in a safe manner so as not to injure it further. To do this they may use nets and towels and often need gloves for their own protection. 

    Proper assessment of the condition of the animal is possible once it is caught. Unfortunately many animals have suffered significant injuries and the priority is to prevent further pain and suffering. These animals have no chance of rescue and are euthanased humanely. If there is hope for recovery the Inspector will take the animal into care and transfer it directly to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), a specialist wild animal rescue centre in the New Territories. KFBG features facilities that enable the proper care and rehabilitation of the diverse species found in Hong Kong and focuses on returning the casualties back to where they belong: the wild.

    The review showed that from 1996 to 2010, the SPCA transferred 1145 wild animals to KFBG for rehabilitation comprising of 155 different species ranging from large wild boar to tiny house swifts. The most common species rescued were Black Kite, Collared Scops Owl, House Swift, Crested Goshawk and Spotted Dove, these 5 combined representing a third of all cases. Some of the rescued species were very rare in Hong Kong such as Hodgeson’s Hawk Cuckoo and White-throated Thrush, while others are rare on a global scale such as the Blythes Kingfisher which is classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. 

    The rehabilitation process carried out by KFBG is challenging as a released animal must be as strong and fit as nature intended for it to have a chance of survival. Despite efforts of the SPCA Inspectors to identify the worst injuries, even minor injuries can often prevent successful rehabilitation, and more in depth assessments often show up problems that prevent release. This is the hard truth of wildlife rehabilitation, and we can only do our best to provide shelter, pain relief and to make quick and accurate assessments to reduce their suffering.

    Thankfully a great many casualties can be rehabilitated, and the review showed that over the 15 year period, 509 of the SPCA wildlife casualties were successfully released to the wild. They consisted of a wide variety of birds made up of 76 species but also included some mammals such as 19 bats of various species, 2 Himalayan Porcupines, and also a couple of snakes (Bamboo Pit Viper and a Band-bellied Krait).  The knowledge of these successful releases is great news as it shows that a significant proportion of casualties can make it to the release stage and the SPCA does indeed play an important role in helping Hong Kong’s injured wildlife return to freedom.

     

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  • Vet’s Case Book                                                                                    16

    Some Felines Never Learn!
    Recurrent string foreign bodies in a 6 year old cat “Mao Mao”

    It’s lucky that cats have 9 lives; certainly for Mao Mao a 6 year old, male neutered domestic short haired cat who presented to our clinic recently having vomited multiple times. Unbelievably in the past four years vets had removed three linear foreign bodies (pieces of string) from his intestines… definitely a moggie who never learns!

    On examination his abdomen was mildly painful and thickened “bunched up” intestines could be felt. A fourth linear foreign body was suspected!

    Pre-anaesthetic bloods were largely normal although there were raised protein levels most likely related to inflammation. Mao Mao was dehydrated due to his persistent vomiting so he was placed on intravenous fluids prior to further work up.

    Once stable he was anaesthetised and radiographs were taken of his abdomen that showed thickened, irregular intestines. A piece of thread was found under his tongue (quite common in cats that have swallowed string). This finding further added to the suspicion of a linear foreign body and an exploratory laparotomy was performed (opening up the abdomen and examining the intestines and stomach). 

    During surgery the intestines were found to have stuck together (adhesions) in many placed due to previous surgeries. A long piece of string was found in the small intestine and was removed via three incisions along the gut. The incisions in the intestines were closed and the abdomen flushed with large volumes of sterile saline to remove any contamination from the guts prior to closing the abdominal wall.

    Luckily for Mao Mao he made a full recovery and is expected to have a normal, happy and healthy life as long as he stays away from string! After all he only has five lives left….

     

    VET’S NOTE:

    Linear foreign bodies are fortunately rare but can be very serious as the string can “cheese wire” through the intestines causing leakage of gut contents and subsequent peritonitis and death. Early diagnosis is essential.

     

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  • Vet Profile                                                                                              17

    Dr. Lucy Shum
    Title: Veterinary Surgeon           
    Nationality: Chinese

     

    Academic qualifications:

    Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Sydney, Australia

     

    Career path:

    I started my career with a 3-year large animal residency at the University of Sydney, working mostly with dairy cattle and some small ruminants including goats and sheep. I even worked with the occasional pet pig. I loved this time because I met wonderful animal keepers and got to work in the great outdoors all the time. After three years in Sydney, I moved on to Singapore for two years to work with the opposite of large farm animals. Companion animal care was much more intensive compared to my previous work but helping dogs and cats recover from illness or injury was a wonderful experience. Arriving in Hong Kong in late 2010 I first locumed for the SPCA and from January 2011 have taken up full time employment.

     

    Veterinary interests:

    Animal rehabilitation, veterinary acupuncture and soft tissue surgery.

    I particularly enjoy the intricacies of surgery and the element of surprise with each procedure but also realise the importance of good nursing care to promote healing and recovery.

     

    Reasons for Working at the SPCA:

    I enjoy meeting people from various walks of life and background. Working at SPCA means getting in touch with and getting involved with the community, actively providing services and education.

     

    Most Unforgettable Experience:

    Whilst working with large animals at Sydney University as a second year graduate; I was requested by a farm to visit to a heavily pregnant ewe. On examination her abdomen was massive; nobody knew how many lambs she was pregnant with but as I had performed an ultrasound scan previously I knew there were at least three. I was naturally worried about over-sized lambs which could make the delivery very difficult. As she was close to term and was showing signs of straining, it was decided to attempt to deliver the lambs. As I had the smallest hands amongst the people on the farm, I gloved up and went ahead. On exam all I could feel was a jumble of tangled limbs poking at my hand.  Slowly but surely I untangled one leg at a time and located a head for each set of legs; everything went smoothly as all the lambs were very small. Guess what? They were all small because amazingly seven lambs were delivered from one ewe! The owners were so overjoyed the lambs were all delivered safely they named the lambs Lucy 1, Lucy 2, Lucy 3 etc. When I went back to the farm to check up on the lambs I was greeted by seven “Lucys” running amuck in the field and one very tired mother ewe chasing after them!!

     

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  • Physiotherapy for PETS                                                                        17

    The veterinary department is pleased to announce an added value service for members: from May 2011, we will be providing physiotherapy for cats and dogs. Janet Ng has been a practising physiotherapist since qualifying in 1995 from the Hong Kong Polytechnic with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 2009, she obtained a Master of Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy) from the University of Queensland and is keen to transfer her skills to provide equivalent levels of care and follow-up treatment for animals. Janet will be taking cases by referral only from veterinary surgeons at the SPCA on Tuesdays in Kowloon and Thursdays in Hong Kong.

     

    What does physiotherapy do?

    1. Improves the joint range of motion and muscle strength.
    2. Helps to give pain relief and promote tissue healing.
    3. Improves balance and proprioception (especially for neurological cases).
    4. Restores, maintains and promotes optimal function of the               musculoskeletal system.
    5. And last but not least improves quality of life!

     

    What conditions can be treated by physiotherapy?

    1. Orthopaedic problems e.g. post fracture repair.
    2. Neurological problems e.g. disc disease.
    3. Mobilisation of hospital and obese patients.

     

    What is the length/frequency of treatment?

    The length of physiotherapy treatment depends on the pet’s condition. Soft tissue injuries may need two to four weeks to heal; post fracture rehabilitation may require two to three months of therapy; and neurological rehabilitation can take six months or longer. The frequency of physiotherapy is normally once per week. Home exercise is an essential component during the rehabilitation period and individual exercise programmes will be taught in the treatment session.

     

    So is physiotherapy suitable for your pet?

    The answer to that question is ask our vet!

     

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  • Vet facts                                                                                                18

    FOREIGN BODIES: IT’S AMAZING WHAT PETS WILL EAT !

    With every vomiting dog or cat there is a worry they could have swallowed a foreign body. Pets will swallow all kinds of strange things from underpants to large metal objects such a knives! Just because it does not look appetising to you…be warned it may be irresistible to your pet! Luckily some objects will pass straight through the digestive system or be digested but if a blockage occurs it can be life threatening. Compared to human beings, dogs and cats have a much higher susceptibility to gastro-intestinal obstruction due to their ability to swallow large objects relative to their size!

     

    Clinical signs:

    Vary with the type of foreign body and whether obstruction is present and include:

    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhoea
    • Abdominal pain
    • Poor or no appetite (but it can be normal!)
    • Depression (usually due to dehydration, lack of food and pain)

     

    Diagnosis:

    By a combination of history, clinical examination and diagnostic imaging (radiography including special contrast techniques such as barium and ultrasonography).

     

    Foreign bodies include:

    1. Toys & Plastic objects
    2. Fishing line with or without hooks
    3. Bones
    4. Cotton thread sometimes with the needle attached (especially in cats)
    5. Stones
    6. Corn cobs
    7. Socks and other clothing items
    8. Fruit seeds e.g. mango, durian and peach
    9. Plastic bags

     

    Treatment:

    With foreign body obstructions surgery is almost always required; although occasionally an endoscope can be used to remove certain types of foreign bodies from the stomach. Surgery can vary from relatively simple, such as the removal a recently-swallowed ball from the stomach of a dog, to the highly complicated removal of chronic string foreign body in a cat. The more complicated the surgery, and the longer the foreign body has caused the obstruction for, the higher the complication rates. If left untreated the animal can develop potentially life-threatening peritonitis if the stomach or intestines rupture.

     

    How to Avoid Foreign Bodies?

    Most foreign bodies are either toys or bones given by the owner; so care should be taken when choosing what to allow your pet to play with. Make sure toys can’t be easily broken into small pieces and avoid bones; better to give chews and treats designed for the purpose. That said never underestimate you pet…anything left lying around could be a potential threat…cotton, needles, knives, fishing lines…don’t be fooled by size remember dogs and cats can swallow very large objects!

     

    IF YOUR PET IS VOMITING OR YOU HAVE SEEN OR SUSPECT THEY HAVE EATEN A FOREIGN BODY CONSULT YOUR VET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. PROMPT DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT CARRIES A MUCH BETTER OUTCOME!

    MUCH BETTER OUTCOME!

     

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  • Inspector Bob Looks Back… and to the future                                      19

    Senior Inspector Bob Kwong has worked as an Inspector for the SPCA for more than 15 years.

    Bob Kwong has worked as an Inspector for the SPCA for over 15 years. It may seem strange that he has done the same job for so long without becoming fed up with it. “Absolutely not,” says Bob, “because the work is challenging! You never know from one day to the next what you might encounter. Sometimes it can be a case of simply receiving an animal; sometimes it might be a dangerous animal rescue.” There are always different animals, different situations and different people to be handled, you can see why Bob’s not bored.

    “From time to time we find animals abandoned in the street just because they are old. Some pet owners take the initiative to contact the SPCA or other welfare organisations to help them deal with ageing pets. But less responsible owners will simply dump them!” continues Bob. “I remember when I had just joined the SPCA, a case was reported to our hotline during my night shift of a puppy abandoned in the street somewhere in Wanchai. I rushed to investigate and found a suspicious-looking bag on the side of the road with a can of dog food beside it. Inside the bag was a skinny dog with a drip attached! Obviously, the owner had provided it with treatment of sorts, but for some reason had then left it like luggage, abandoned on the side of the road. I picked the little puppy up; he was quiet and obediently leaned gently against me. At that moment I was very sad. I couldn’t understand how the owner could abandon a pet like this, a small defenceless companion.”

    “Having been at the SPCA for a long time, I have encountered a lot of irresponsible pet owners and seen many poor animals suffer. I made a promise to myself long ago that I would take every opportunity to educate owners and young people about raising small animals. I tell them they need to consider carefully whether they have the ability to take care of their pets or not. Money and time are not enough; they have to be prepared to take care of the animal for its entire life, even when it is old or sick. Everybody should realise the importance of the slogan “Respect for life begins with concern for animals”. This way, we create a future in which both animals and humans will benefit.”

     

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  • SPCA Case files                                                                                     20 – 22

    From January 2011 to March 2011, the Inspectorate received a total of 10,252 calls and handled 1,062 animals. SPCA Inspectors rescued 430 animals, investigated 207 complaints, and conducted inspections of 119 pet shops and 338 wet markets.

     

    December (Arrested)

    Yet another case of animal maltreatment ended in arrest and prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance. Three dogs had been left unattended in a small room in To Kwa Wan. By the time inspectors arrived one dog was dead and a second was in a very poor condition.

     

    December (Rescued)

    Unable to fly because of a badly torn wing, this bat was found on the street in Yuen Long and after being rescued by an inspector was delivered to KFBG (Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden) for treatment and care.

     

    December (Rescued)

    This night heron was found marooned on the banks of the Lam Tsuen River near Tai Po. It had an injured wing and was rescued by an inspector and taken to KFBG for treatment and care.

     

    January (Rescued)

    How they got there no one knows, but these two Persian cats were found trapped in a water catchment in Kam Tin. They were rescued by an inspector and taken to hospital for custody and care.

     

    January (Rescued)

    Trapped in a hole just above water level in a catchment in Yuen Long, this lucky dog was rescued by an inspector and transferred to hospital for custody and care.

     

    January (Rescued)

    This injured Chinese Muntjac had been found bleeding on the roadside in Tsuen Wan. It was rescued by an inspector and taken to hospital for preliminary treatment before being transferred to KFBG for rehabilitation.

     

    January (Rescued)

    Feral cattle in Hong Kong have been a hot topic in recent months. This young calf was found with wounds on its neck and chest wandering in the road in the Sai Sha area beyond Sai Kung. It was rescued by an inspector and taken to hospital for treatment and care.

     

    February (Prosecuted)

    The price of neglect? Prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance. This poor little dog was left in a filthy state in an unattended room in Tsuen Wan and when found was in a shocking condition. The owner was successfully prosecuted.

     

    February (Prosecuted)

    Another person was prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for similarly leaving a dog unattended in the room of a flat in Ap Lei Chau. It had no food or water, was emaciated and in poor condition.

     

    February (Rescued)

    A Crested Mynah with its wing entangled in a kite string above a rubbish collection point at Shek O was rescued by an inspector and taken to hospital for treatment and care.

     

    February (Rescued)

    It is hard to imagine how a puppy could get stuck between service pipes on the outer wall of the first floor of a building in Sham Shui Po, but that is where it was rescued by an inspector and returned to its thankful owner.

     

    February (Rescued)

    Another dog found itself where it shouldn’t have been, wedged into the bore of a drainage pipe in Tuen Mun. The dog was rescued with the assistance of the Fire Services Department and taken to hospital for custody and care.

     

    Remembering Tung Ping Chau’s Canine Elder Statesman

    Once a puppy owned by the island’s late village head, Wong Tsai was one of the few remaining residents of Tung Ping Chau in Hong Kong’s northeast corner. Since his owner’s demise, the elderly canine had been under the care of the SPCA, helped by local police and store keepers. At the end of April 2011, he died; he was 20 years old.

    Wong Tsai had lived happily and freely on the island all his life. He’d greet visitors at the pier, show them around the island and see them off again. In recent years, he’d developed a facial lump, which an SPCA vet diagnosed as benign and unlikely to cause any harm, and decided to leave alone. Removing the lump was not an option because of the dog’s age; there were too many odds against his survival.

    However, in mid-April this year, SPCA Inspectors, alerted by patrolling police, found him limping and seemingly in pain from a leg injury presumed to have been caused by a runaway handcart. This time, there was no question of leaving him. Wong Tsai was taken on the long and rough journey to the SPCA.

    Examination revealed that the bone of the injured leg was cracked, but more importantly that Wong Tsai had bone cancer – this was causing the pain. He was hospitalised and arrangements made for concerned people as well as the media to see him before he was eventually and inevitably euthanised. 

    If dogs could talk, Wong Tsai would no doubt have had a few shaggy dog tales to tell of this remote and inaccessible spot which had long been his home. He was well loved and will be remembered by the many people who enjoyed his company during their island visits and by those who looked after him.

     

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  • Kennel Keeper Profile                                                                            23

    Chona Chu
    Kennel keepers are an integral part of the SPCA’s numerous success stories. 

    Between the time a pet is found or rescued and the time that pet is adopted there is a period that can last days to weeks (or longer in some cases) when it is in the care of some of the SPCA’s unsung heros and heroines: the kennel keepers.   

    Kennel keepers are an ever-present source of attention and love for frightened and disoriented animals.  Kennel keepers are there throughout the day attending to the dietary and hygienic requirements of dozens of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, mice, turtles and other creatures which have landed at the SPCA.

    Chona Chu has been caring for animals for four years at the SPCA’s Wanchai kennels. She takes her job seriously and really enjoys the time she spends with all the animals who pass through the SPCA’s “serviced apartment” for animals.

    “I really enjoy my job here,” Chona says.  “I help people find just the right pet by providing them with details about each pet during their visit.  Some pets have specific needs, such as vigorous daily exercise.   Some tend to be better with children, than others.   I know the animals fairly well and can answer many questions for new visitors. Helping people find the right pet is very rewarding.”

    Kennel keepers at the SPCA are trained to understand animal behaviour, which can help when it comes to creating the most comfortable environment for them.

    The dog kennels are bright and roomy and there are several larger outdoor areas, which kennel keepers bring them to regularly for additional exercise and play. A large room nearby houses a cat population of several dozen, which also features a sizeable playroom with items to climb and toys.

    Chona herself has six dogs at home, two large ones and four small. Some were strays found on the street, some were given to her by friends who didn’t understand the long-term commitment a pet needs.

     

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  • Doggie Day Out                                                                                      24 – 25

    Summer is here and Hong Kong is full of dog friendly places!
    Here are some ideas for your 2 and 4 legged friends!

    My Travel Journal – Summer 2011

    June 6, Monday, Dragon Boat Festival. 

    Mo Tat Wan, Lamma Island

    Mum and Dad say it is a tradition to swim during Dragon Boat Festival. We will take a ferry from Aberdeen to Mo Tat Wan, a nice and quiet beach on Lamma Island. It’s time for me to show off my swimming talents! I love the beach and sunshine! There is a Mediterranean restaurant called The Bay in Mo Tat Wan. Mum and Dad had a big lunch there. They said the food will be delicious, but I won’t be able to try any of it, sad…

     

    June 12, Sunday

    Pets Park, Tai Po

    This will be my 2nd birthday! Mum will invite my best friends, Bobo, Coco, Momo and Yoyo, to attend my birthday party in Pets Park. It’s an indoor clubhouse for dogs with air conditioning. We will enjoy a lovely birthday cake and great party food there, yummy! There is also an indoor swimming pool for us. Thanks Mum and Dad for all those arrangements. I love you!

     

    June 18, Saturday

    Tequila, Soho

    Today will be Mum and Dad’s 10th wedding anniversary. Dad arranged a romantic dinner with Mum and myself (of course!) in a private area at Tequila. Dad will give Mum a bunch of flowers, a diamond ring and a big kiss. Dad is so romantic!

     

    June 26, Sunday

    Luk Keng, Tai Po

    It’s nice and cool today so Mum and Dad took me for a hike in Luk Keng. We will park the car at Fat Kei Store to begin our walk. We will walk along some shaded paths and up and down steps before reaching a spacious grassy area. After a short break, we will walk around the coast of Sha Tau Kok Hoi and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Of course, I will go for a swim! We will eat great seafood for lunch and also a nice Tofu Fa near Tai Wan. Mum and Dad, I love this place.

     

    July 1, Friday, HKSAR Establishment Day          

    Tung Chung North Park & Bermuda Park,  Tung Chung

    To celebrate the establishment of the HKSAR (i.e. Mum and Dad’s holiday, he he!), we will explore some new places in Tung Chung. There are two new parks which are dog friendly. Tung Chung North Park is equipped with all the needed facilities for our doggie friends, e.g. gates at the entrance and exit, dog toilet, water tap and pavilion. Bermuda Park has an extensive lawn, which is a wonderful place for me to run freely!

     

    July 10, Sunday

    Nam Sang Wai, Yuen Long

    The weather may be hot, so Mum and Dad will take me out in the late afternoon. Nam Sang Wai is such a beautiful and lovely place. It has an extensive lawn and area of reeds, a fish pond and lots of trees. Dad will take a lot of great photos and I will make many new friends there.

     

    July 17, Sunday

    Pak Lap Wan, Sai Kung

    We will join a boat trip with a lot of doggie friends to Pak Lap. We will board a motor yacht from Sai Kung Pier. After playing on the boat for an hour, we will arrive at Pak Lap Wan. It’s a wonderful beach with a long and beautiful bay. I will swim and play with my friends while Mum and Dad enjoy sunning themselves. I’m sure we won’t want to leave!

     

    July 24, Sunday

    Tai Tam Country Park, Hong Kong Island

    If temperature isn’t too high, we may go hiking. The route we will take is called Sir Cecil’s Ride. The path is flat, so it’s easy to walk, and it’s shaded. You can see to both sides of Victoria Harbour. Nice walk!

     

    July 31, Sunday

    Penfold Park, Shatin

    Mum said she wants to have a picnic so Dad will drive us to Penfold Park. There is extensive grass there and the environment is so nice. We will picnic on the grass and enjoy sandwiches and soft drinks. It will be very leisurely. I will likely make many new doggie friends.

     

    August 7, Sunday

    Mui Wo and Discovery Bay, Lantau Island

    Mum and Dad will be busy loading their backpacks for this trip, as it will be a long trip. We will take a ferry to Mui Wo from Central Pier. I look forward to playing on the beach for a while before walking along a hiking trail and taking many nice pictures. Finally, we will arrive at a beautiful place called Discovery Bay. Most of the restaurants there are dog friendly and we will dine at a table with a great sea view. 

     

    I hope my travel plans will inspire you to take your dog on some journeys this summer! DeDe

     

    Tips for Doggie Days Out:

     

    • Avoid walking dogs in the heat of the day.
    • Avoid vigorous exercise when the weather is hot or humid.
    • Always bring along large amounts of drinking water for your dog.
    • If possible bring along a few cool packs for emergency use if your dog appears to be overheating (the earlier you can reverse the heat stress the better).
    • Splash cool water on your dog from time to time to make its hair wet, especially its head and neck.
    • Never dress up your pet.
    • Never leave your dog in a car with the windows and doors closed, or in an exposed place with no shade.
    • Clip long-haired dogs leaving a short amount of hair to help prevent sunburn and insect bites.

     

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  • Crowd Pleasing Animals?                                                                       28

    In April 2011, three African Clawed Frogs were surrendered to the SPCA by a member of the public who “won” them at a fair. Kept in a tiny tank, one frog had already died. African Clawed Frogs grow to the size of a hand and can live for more than ten years. Highly invasive, they have caused the decline of native frogs in other countries.

    These frogs were won as prizes and this case highlights the problem of use of animals as crowd pleasers or marketing tools in public places. Studies have shown that such animals often suffer from uncaring owners, simply because they were acquired without planning, effort or consideration of the heavy responsibility of pet ownership.

     

    Crowds are stressful

    Animals have long been used in public, either as a marketing tool, or as crowd-pleasers at events. For most animals however, being in a public place is stressful. Most animals are only comfortable when they are in a stable home territory, and are very fearful of environments and humans they do not know.

    If these animals are taken to public places they can get overwhelmed by the noises, smells, and the incessant attention of people looking or trying to get a response. Unable to hide, they cower in fear or glaze over in shock. In some cases, they even die.

     

    Negative welfare

    The use of animals in public places or at events not only has negative welfare implications for the animals concerned, it can also send out negative educational messages to visitors. People who see these animals often do not learn that animals have different needs or express themselves in different ways to humans.

     

    Animals are not just commodities

    The use of animals reinforces the concept that animals are commodities for people to use at their amusement. It can cause impulse buying by encouraging people to buy pets for very superficial reasons. Even a small animal such as a hamster or turtle requires a certain level of knowledge, resources and commitment, especially if children are expected to be the main care giver.

     

    Such animals often suffer from uncaring owners, simply because they were acquired without planning, effort or the consideration of the heavy responsibility of pet ownership.

     

    What you can do

    If you are planning on using animals in public places, the SPCA asks you to consider alternative options. If animals are to be used it is essential that they are provided with adequate conditions, shelter and hiding areas, and that thought has gone into the educational message being delivered. Do not give animals as prizes and ensure good planning for the animals after the event.

    Businesses that use animals to draw crowds with no regard for their welfare put a low value on life. Don’t support such companies or organisations!

     

    If you suspect that animal welfare at an event is not being adequately safeguarded, please call our 24 hour cruelty hotline at 2711 1000.

     

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