Issue 87 - 2012/5

 

Issue 87 - 2012/5

  • TNR - Tomorrow’s Problem Solved Today    2 - 5
  • Proposed Foie Gras Project Meets Opposition in Mainland China    6 - 7
  • Laboratory Animals in China and Hong Kong    8 - 9
  • Benefits of Dog-ownership in Hong Kong Revealed     11
  • Paws Off The Table Please!     12 
  • In a Jam…      13
  • Laboratory Animals in China and Hong Kong      14 - 15
  • Dog Poisoning - In the Vicinity of Bowen Road, Black’s Link and Holland Street      16
  • The true cost of the cute puppy in the window      17
  • Vet’s Case Book       18 - 19
  • Vet Profile        19
  • Vet’s tips - Caring For Your Bunny!        19
  • Vet facts - The fat facts: Obesity in pets        20
  • SPCA Case files         22 - 23
  • Serving the Community         24
  • Happenings       26 - 27
  • Happy Endings      28

 


(text only version)

  • TNR - Tomorrow’s Problem Solved Today                                             2 - 5  

    Trap (T), Neuter (N), Return (R) 

    SPCA and TNR

    The animal welfare community has been abuzz with activity since the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced that it would go ahead with public consultations regarding a Trap-Neuter-Return trial for dogs in December 2011.

    The Public Consultations marked another historical milestone in SPCA’s sustained push to make TNR available as a humane dog management tool in Hong Kong.

     

    Momentum for a TNR dog trial builds

    Sustained lobbying culminated in SPCA meeting with all eighteen district councils in 2006 and 2007. During this period, nine district councils supported TNR in principle, seven district councils objected to the methodology, whilst the remaining two decided to abstain. This first round of district consultations finally put TNR for dogs on the discussion table and more importantly, was the first indication of support for TNR in principle by districts. 

    In the years leading up to the public consultations, almost two hundred sites across Hong Kong had been visited (some more than once) to assess their suitability for the Community Dog Programme, with a view that some might also be suitable sites for any future TNR trial for dogs. These site visits have enabled us to meet many committed individuals who have facilitated subsequent engagement with community leaders through their local knowledge and relationships.

    Thousands of hours had also been put in to meet district councilors, community leaders, animal welfare groups, policy makers, government departments such as the AFCD and Food, Environment and Hygiene Department (FEHD), as well as concerned individuals to discuss opportunities for improving dog welfare at both grassroots and policy levels.

    SPCA’s perennial community programmes continued to raise public awareness about the general concepts behind TNR and the possible benefits if introduced. The steady expansion of the Cat Colony Carer Programme (CCCP), coupled with increasing demand for SPCA’s welfare services such as the Community Dog Programme and the Spay Neuter Vehicle, also showed public acceptance and demand for animal birth control programmes such as TNR.

    In 2010, the Legislative Council passed a motion calling for the government to develop an “animal friendly policy” and TNR for dogs was one of the initiatives supported.

    In his 2011 policy address, then Chief Executive Donald Tsang, acknowledged this growing public concern, announcing the government’s decision to help implement a TNR trial and promising to consult with relevant District Councils. This was a significant step forward, a culmination of many years of lobbying and sustained engagement with the AFCD. 

    Six public consultations were organized for residents of the three proposed sites in Lamma, Sai Kung and Yuen Long. The two animal welfare organizations responsible for carrying out the proposed trial, SPCA and the Society for Abandoned Animals (SAA), made presentations to explain the rationale for TNR in those areas and fielded questions from the audience.

     

    Where are we now?

    Public consultations

    The SPCA made a total of four presentations at the AFCD public consultations in January and February for Lamma Island and Sai Kung residents.

    The consultations on the proposed TNR dog trial brought together a diverse group of concerned individuals. Local animal welfare organizations were out in force and expressed that this trial was long overdue. Though some groups have anecdotally admitted to doing TNR on dogs, without a proper trial, the government is unlikely to enact this methodology into policy.

    The debate surrounding the trial has also brought out its fair share of opponents. Many were concerned with pre-existing issues such as public hygiene and abandonment, some causing significant conflict between residents. During the public consultations, some residents revealed that they misunderstood that “stray” dogs from other areas of Hong Kong were to be put in their communities.

    However, the inconsiderate behaviour of pet owners got both supporters and opponents of the trial alike up in arms. Many cite negative experiences with loosely owned dogs or irresponsibly owned dogs that have been left to roam - pets that are not kept under control or adequately fed, resulting in them scavenging for alternative sources of food; wanton feeding of unowned dogs and cats, where leftover food creates a mess and attracts vermin, while abandonment continues to be an issue in many communities.

    These consultations have mobilized many members of the public to advocate for TNR, making this a significant step for animal welfare in Hong Kong.

    During the consultations, the SPCA explained that in addition to using TNR on the targeted population of feral and semi-feral dogs, the surrounding owned and loosely owned dog populations would also be addressed. Through continued public education on responsible pet ownership, providing low cost de-sexing and soon, we aim to prevent owned dogs and their offspring contributing to the feral population, as well as reduce the incidence of community conflicts.

     

    Since the public consultations

    The public consultations provided valuable feedback to the SPCA regarding public attitudes and misconceptions regarding TNR.

    Another round of lobbying at all levels has been underway since then to clarify and provide additional information to all concerned parties. The consultation process has continued with the team making numerous trips to the trial districts, at times going door to door to canvas for feedback, as well as re-visiting district councilors and community representatives. A bespoke website (http://tnr.spca.org.hk) was created as a public resource to address many frequently asked questions raised.

    At time of press, two district councils have met to discuss the TNR dog trial in their respective districts. In Yuen Long, the district council requested more time to further discuss the site proposed. More recently in Sai Kung, district councilors agreed to the TNR methodology in principle but requested that more alternatives be put forth by the AFCD and the SPCA.

    Overall, there has been strong support for the proposed trial at almost every level. Though there has been great debate over the choice of sites, the public consultations were a valuable platform for the Hong Kong people to engage with policy makers and the government about dog overpopulation. These consultations have mobilized many members of the public to advocate for TNR, making this a significant step for animal welfare in Hong Kong.

    Thanks to the longstanding support of SPCA members, we are in continued discussion with the government, policy makers, fellow animal welfare groups and the public, and very much look forward to the day that dog TNR is a reality in Hong Kong.

     

    TNR : Some Background

    “Stray dogs” in Hong Kong = Loosely owned and Unowned dogs

    A major misconception is that the SPCA is pushing for a TNR trial for all stray dogs. This misconception arises as all roaming dogs are perceived as “stray”. In reality, “stray” dogs have different characteristics, and thus each group requires a different management strategy to realistically resolve the issue of dog overpopulation.

    To better target its welfare programmes, SPCA separates “stray dogs” into “loosely owned” and “unowned” dogs.

     

    Loosely owned dogs

    Loosely owned dogs are commonly found roaming in villages and construction sites. They are seldom desexed but are regularly fed by members of the community.

    All of them have a different story- some have been left behind when their owners moved and subsequently taken care of by neighbours. Some dogs are simply irresponsibly owned pets that might have legal owners.  Others are the offspring of undesexed dogs, others are abandoned construction site dogs. Many are accepted as part of village life, often having a name and fed by multiple members of the community.

    With food from their human benefactors, their population grows quickly. Often times, the rapid increase in dogs outstrips the food resources available. Within the pack, this increased competition also means that some existing dogs get pushed out of the pack. Dogs often have to fight to retain their place in the pack. Those that lose the fight get pushed out of the pack and become feral or semi-feral.

    Being loosely owned, no one person or household takes responsibility for the dogs or their offspring. If the household or person that feeds them leaves the community, the dogs are left behind. Similarly, fortunate puppies might find new homes, unfortunate ones are abandoned or dumped at rubbish collection points.

    To this end, the Community Dog Programme was set up to improve the welfare of dogs living in villages and construction sites. Caring individuals that have fed these dogs for a while witness the poor welfare of the numerous puppies produced and contact the society requesting assistance with desexing, agreeing to take on the legal responsibility for these dogs by getting them microchipped. 

    The SPCA has been at the forefront of lobbying for improved enforcement and has done much to promote responsible pet ownership, with low cost Spay Neuter schemes and the Spay Neuter Vehicle, making desexing more accessible to all.

    TNR for loosely owned dogs alone will not address the root cause of irresponsible pet ownership, where owners or de-facto owners abandon their pets or their offspring. 

    According to the 2005 Thematic Household Survey report on pet keeping habits in Hong Kong, there were 138,500 households keeping 197,900 dogs. By 2010, this number had increased to some 166,500 households keeping 247,500 dogs.

    In 2005, only 36.1% of the owned dog population had been desexed. Though this figure has risen to 55.9% in 2010, it still means that only slightly more than half of Hong Kong’s dogs are desexed, and the problem of animal overpopulation is likely to persist. The issue is compounded by abandonment as both surveys also found that more than 10,000 households had considered not keeping their pets anymore, meaning that abandoned dogs would then contribute to the unowned dog population  (see below).

     

    Unowned feral and semi-feral dogs

    TNR for dogs was conceived as an additional tool to improve the welfare of a specific group of dog in Hong Kong- unowned feral and semi-feral dogs. Unlike loosely owned dogs, they are unsocialized to humans with irregular access to food.

    The target populations of dogs for the proposed trial are unowned feral and semi-feral dogs.

    These dogs are very shy and fearful of humans, living on the fringes of human settlement, usually feeding on rubbish. Unlike village dogs or construction site dogs that are often seen wandering around during the day, these dogs are very secretive and usually only come out at night.

     

    Why this population?

    Feral and semi-feral dogs are a cause for concern both in terms of their own welfare and as part of a population that continually breeds producing offspring that continues this cycle of poor welfare and as such should not be neglected as part of a dog management programme.

    Feral and semi-feral dogs have the poorest welfare, as they have access to the fewest resources. Their life spans may not exceed two years and puppy mortality is very high. Adults are often thin due to malnutrition and many have skin disease.

    As these dogs have never lived with humans, they are poor candidates for adoption as they are unused to being confined, frightened of human contact and thus are unlikely to be re-homed. Trapping and removal of these dogs is usually a death sentence.

    For more information regarding how SPCA programmes help Hong Kong’s owned and unowned dogs, please visit  http://tnr.spca.org.hk.

     

    TNR: Not Just for Cats and Dogs

    Macaque monkeys

    For years, visitors to the Kam Sham Country Park vicinity have witnessed increasing numbers of macaque monkeys. Emboldened from the frequency and closeness of human contact, they have appeared along busy highways and in picnic areas, becoming a cause for concern for safety and health reasons – both for the macaques and for humans.

    As the macaque is protected under the Laws of Hong Kong, AFCD’s answer to this problem is TNR. As with dog and cat TNR, the methodology is reliant on volunteers to monitor and trap the animals. A trained volunteer feeder lures the macaques into a giant cage and quietly slips out via a side door while the entrance gate slams shut, trapping the animals to be caught individually using nets.

    The macaque TNR is a model for Asia and has resulted in a significant decline in the growth of the population. Birthrates and complaints, the two key performance indicators, are both declining. However, as with dog TNR, the long-term solution lies in educating the public against feeding macaques and to let them subsist instead on natural resources as they have done over the years.

     

    Native cattle

    Up to the 1960s, Hong Kong had significant plots of farmland which were reliant on cattle for agricultural production. With rapid urbanisation, these farms have been abandoned and the cattle let loose in the country parks. Today, herds of cattle can be found on Lantau Island and in Sai Kung.

    As human development encroaches on these animals’ natural habitat, the inevitable human–animal conflict has to be managed and controlled. Although always gentle, cattle are known to stampede if intentionally harassed, causing danger to humans. Male cattle may demonstrate protective behaviour over their herd, and it is of utmost importance to treat these animals with respect.

    Once again, TNR is the preferred method over “catch and cull”. The AFCD has formed a Cattle Management Team which works together with local animal welfare groups to desex these cattle. The desexing of cattle in field conditions is challenging, as the procedure can be prone to complications due to the animals’ size. Mortality rates are known to be quite high during field surgery, and thus it is important to conduct the procedure as quickly as possible and away from public curiosity and attention.

     

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  • Proposed Foie Gras Project Meets Opposition in Mainland China        6 – 7

    In November 2011, mainland Chinese activists were alerted to the intention of a British company to build the world’s biggest foie gras plant along the Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province.

    Jiangxi is an inland province working hard to catch up with the more developed coastal region. Signing a “letter of intent” on the proposed foie gras project was one more step to boost local growth in this predominantly agricultural area. However, concerned public have been asking if the proposed project is either ethical or ecologically sound. 

    The production of foie gras (fat liver) has become a matter of some controversy in the West as it involves the force-feeding of birds (usually geese) with more food than they need. An oily foodstuff is pushed down their throats and deposits large amounts of fat in the liver. The process causes scarring of the oesophagus, hugely swollen livers, impaired liver function, an abdomen so big birds often cannot walk, and death if the force-feeding is continued. It also, of course, results in a product of high retail value.

    Foie gras was introduced to the mainland in 1981, and today China has more than 150 foie gras producers and a total annual output of 3,000 tons. Profit is the driving force of the industry’s expansion. One ton of enlarged goose liver is sold in China for 300,000 yuan as opposed to 15,000 yuan for the same quantity of goose meat. While it costs on average 200 yuan to produce one kilogram of foie gras, the same amount of processed product is sold for 600 yuan. In hotels and restaurants, one kilogram of the so-called “delicacy” can fetch several thousand yuan. Since the price of the liver grows with the size, some producers use extreme feeding routines to obtain the biggest liver in the shortest possible time. One industry insider revealed that they could get enlarged livers in 15 days. China’s producers have, however, consistently failed to implement a disease reporting and product traceability system and as such don’t meet international standards of food safety.

    Chinese Activists succeeded in stopping Spanish bullfighting, American rodeos and Canadian seal meat being imported to China. They are determined to stand firm against this latest project (foie gras)…

    The welfare of the geese is not the only thing at stake. A massive foie gras plant near the nation’s most important water system could be an ecological catastrophe. Poyang Lake is one of the few remaining wetlands in East Asia. Each year hundreds of thousands of migratory birds make the lake their wintering site. Industrialised animal agriculture is known to cause serious environmental damage. Untreated waste with a high concentration of nitrogen from the plant could destroy the wildlife habitat, suffocate aquatic life, accelerate extinction of the protected species in the Yangtze River, and deplete the water supply for four provinces in its lower reaches. 

    Foie gras is an internationally condemned product of animal cruelty.

    A  European Union Scientific report concluded in 1998 that “force feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds”. Its introduction to Jiangxi would send a wrong message to the outside world and suggest that local leaders are out of touch with global humane progress. As Chinese activists have pointed out to officials in Jiangxi, foie gras is outlawed in several countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark and Italy. Instead of sanctioning the controversial project, Jiangxi should lead China’s effort to catch up with progressive trends.

    Mainland activists are planning their next campaign strategy. Global animal protection groups such as Humane Society International and Hong Kong SPCA are appealing to Jiangxi provincial authorities to reject the proposed project. Both the domestic and international activist groups agree that mainland China must not become a dumping group for foreign products of animal cruelty.

    Recently, Chinese activists succeeded in stopping Spanish bullfighting, American rodeos, and Canadian seal meat being imported to China. They are determined to stand firm against this latest project, which they see as providing a “delicacy” for the rich and powerful. They will appeal to Jianxi leaders that a production that caters to the taste of the privileged few is sure to aggravate those who are yet to benefit from the country’s explosive growth. It is far better that they champion animal welfare and prevent a potential ecological disaster.

     

    Peter Li
    Human Society International

     

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  • Benefits of Dog-ownership in Hong Kong Revealed                              8 - 9

    Dog-ownership is associated with a more active, “health enhancing” lifestyle 

    Researchers in the Institute of Human Performance at Hong Kong University, Joyce Chow and Dr Duncan Macfarlane, have recently produced scientific evidence to support information we have long suspected about the benefits of owning a dog, even in a densely populated city like Hong Kong.

    It is well known that people in most societies have become increasingly inactive resulting in growing numbers suffering from cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. However, it is not easy to encourage people, especially the physically inactive who are at high risk of such diseases, to exercise in order to lessen the chance of ill-health. Novel solutions are needed. 

    One of the potential benefits associated with dog-ownership is the assumed additional exercise and companionship that come with looking after a dog. Several overseas studies, mainly in the USA and Australia, have attempted to determine what effect this has on both physical and mental health, but the results have been somewhat inconclusive, largely because of the difficulty in accurately measuring how much physical activity is undertaken as the studies relied on “self-report” questionnaires which can easily result in over- or under-estimation. Also, as all these earlier studies were done in rural or low-density Western cities, it was not known if regularly walking a dog in urban Hong Kong could still benefit health. The recent availability of small, wearable body-motion sensors that accurately measure how much activity the wearer undertakes was hoped to help answer this question.

    A total of 102 Hong Kong Chinese dog-owners were recruited to examine what factors might affect whether dog-owners walk their dogs regularly and whether they partake in more daily physical activity than non-dog-owners. All participants were invited to complete questionnaires that included a Dog and Physical Activity (DAPA) and a perceived physical and mental health (SF-12) questionnaire, and to wear a body-movement sensor (accelerometer) for seven days. Resulting data were compared with similar data from a group of Hong Kong Chinese who did not own dogs. 

    Dog-owners were found to have significantly higher perceived physical health scores (50.3 v 42.8), but not perceived mental health scores (50.0 v 46.6). Dog-owners also undertook significantly more “health enhancing” moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (348 v 294 minutes/week) as well as more total physical activity (918 v 784 minutes/week) when compared with the control group.

    It was concluded that despite Hong Kong’s high-density living, dog-ownership is associated with a more active, “health-enhancing” lifestyle and higher levels of perceived physical health, but not mental health. Although enhanced “happiness” is often reported to be associated with dog ownership, the mental health benefits of dog-ownership in this study may have been masked. It is possible that some owners acquire dogs to overcome loneliness or depression, and any mental benefit from dog-ownership may only raise their mental health status to normal levels (which is still a benefit).

    The researchers wish to thank the following for their generous support in helping complete this study: SPCA, Hills Pet Nutrition (Lee Lung Co Ltd), STOP and Whiskers N Paws.

     

    Dr Duncan Macfarlane, FACSM
    Associate Professor, Institute of Human Performance
    The University of Hong Kong

    Many Thanks

    Chun Wo – CRGL Joint Venture!

    Our Wanchai Headquarters has been repaired and freshly painted thanks to the generous spirit of Chun Wo – CRGL Joint Venture.

    This has preserved our building  for years to come and saved us millions of dollars, money that can now be spent on helping animals.

    Thank You Chun Wo – CRGL Joint Venture, SPCA is incredibly grateful.

     

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  • New Hope for Better Animal Welfare                                                     10 – 11

    The Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations Cap. 139B currently provide inadequate control of the pet trade in Hong Kong. In order to stop unsuitable people from animal trading, a recent Legco Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene has proposed closing a loophole and regulating anyone breeding dogs for sale, regardless of the numbers involved.

    Overview of the proposal

    Animal Traders are defined as people who sell, or offer to sell, animals or birds which they have not kept as pets or which are offspring of such pets. They obtain most of their animal stock from commercial breeders in Hong Kong, who need a licence, and private pet owners (PPOs) – also known as “hobby breeders” – who currently do not.

    The proposed amendment of Cap. 139B will remove the automatic right of a person to sell or offer to sell any dog kept by him/her as a pet or its offspring; and will introduce a permit system for any persons breeding certain types of animals (particularly dogs) for sale. Such persons will need to obtain a Home Animal Breeder Permit or Commercial Animal Breeder Permit.

    At present, the maximum penalty for breaching licensing conditions and for engaging in illegal trading of animals is HK$1,000 and $2,000, respectively. It is proposed to increase the penalty for breaching licensing conditions or other animal keeping requirements to $50,000 and that for illegal trading of animals to $100,000.

     

    What are the key current issues?

    Currently, the key issues lie in pet shops. Displaying an animal in a pet shop or stall can lead to impulse acquisition without consideration for the health and welfare of the animal. Placing an animal in a small confined space in pet shops/farms increases the risk of purchasing an animal in very poor health. Research indicates that about 74 per cent of dogs for sale in Hong Kong are sourced locally from self-proclaimed PPOs. Most of these “owners” are very likely not hobby breeders but are commercial breeders operating without licences.

    When purchasing an animal, it is important to check the environment in which it has been reared.

    Additionally, many of these so-called “hobby breeders” breed a lot of animals, but give little consideration to the environment in which they are kept. The more animals that are held on the breeders’ premises, the higher the risk to the animals’ welfare.

     

    SPCA’s response

    The SPCA is opposed to any degree of confinement which is likely to cause distress or suffering to the animals concerned.

    In the interests of animal welfare and to reduce the risks created by the pet trade, the SPCA recommends that all animals should be acquired from the place where they were born or from an SPCA animal centre (or other rescue organisation) rather than a pet store. If a decision is made to buy an animal from a pet shop, the buyer should ensure that the pet in mind has been legally obtained and is being sold by a licensed pet shop which carries an Animal Trader Licence issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

    The SPCA is also against any sort of internet selling of animals. Acquiring an animal through the internet increases the risk to its welfare, as the buyer does not know the environment in which it has been bred.

     

    What can we all do?

    The SPCA suggests that potential pet owners avoid buying an animal through the internet or from a pet shop, and consider instead adopting from the SPCA or from a breeder who is licensed and has the required knowledge to breed/take care of animals. Purchasing a puppy or a kitten at a very young age before it is fully weaned can often mean it has inadequate immunity and will be more vulnerable to disease. The SPCA also suggests that when purchasing an animal, it is important to check the environment in which it has been reared.

     

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  • Paws Off The Table Please!                                                                  12

    A Light-hearted Look at a Serious Issue

    Pets are not people. Yes, we love our pets and think of them like family members but that doesn’t mean they get an invitation to Sunday lunch. 

    Lately you will have noticed a concerning trend for dog-owners to sit their pets up at the table with them in restaurants and cafés. I should really go over some basic dog anatomy before I go any further: dogs don’t have arms and hands, they have legs and paws. If I was to go out for lunch with friends and they hoisted their feet up on the table – I would be horrified. Dogs walk around on their feet all day, often walking in the things that we avoid ourselves, and their paws are covered with bacteria. Add to this the dripping saliva from a slobbery (but probably still adorable) animal and you have a bacterial heaven forming on the tabletop where you’re eating your meal. It’s bad enough having a friend who eats with his or her mouth open, let alone a dog that doesn’t use a fork!

    You may not have noticed, as they seem to do it rather subtly (I’m being sarcastic) but dogs also use their tongues to clean very… intimate areas of themselves. To then see a dog licking a tabletop should turn stomachs, but more and more often we are seeing pooches licking around tables while 10 centimetres away people tuck into their Caesar salads.

    Dogs can carry gastrointestinal worms, particularly round and tape worms (although, if they’ve been regularly wormed they shouldn’t), that can be a risk to people, especially small children.

    It this dog-sat-up-at-table trend continues, it’s unlikely that any other establishments will want to encourage customers to bring their pets.

    If the café doesn’t disinfect the table with hospital-grade bleach once you leave, which I don’t believe is standard practice, imagine the next poor family who come and sit down at a surface crawling with bacteria, germs and worm eggs. All of which can contaminate not just your food, but someone else’s.

    Aside from the obvious hygiene issues, dogs eating at a table can really disturb the pet–owner relationship. By placing a dog equal to you when you’re eating, creates huge behavioural issues. Why would a dog choose to eat its dry dog food out of its own bowl when it can just beg you for some of your gourmet dinner? Fussy eating, possessiveness and begging are really easy problems to create in a dog, and very difficult to reverse. This is compounded by the fact that the food we eat is generally not good for pets at all. Many of our most delicious foods can be toxic to dogs, so aside from creating a fussy pet that begs, it’ll probably also have relentless diarrhoea – aarghh!

    Dogs and cats should have their own area to eat, preferably away from where the owners are eating and on the floor; don’t worry, they’re used to it – they’re animals, they’ve been doing it for thousands and thousands of years, they really don’t mind! There are plenty of designs out there for portable bowls that can be used for pets when eating at restaurants where dogs are allowed. There’s nothing wrong with taking your dog out with you, and it’s a shame that more outdoor restaurants in Hong Kong aren’t more dog-friendly. However, if this dog-sat-up-at-table trend continues, it’s unlikely that any other establishments will want to encourage customers to bring their pets. The last thing we need just as Hong Kong becomes more dog-friendly is a backlash.

    At the end of the day, we all love our pets, but just remember – pets aren’t people.

     

    Cruzanne Macalister

     

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  • In a Jam…                                                                                             13

    IN A JAM… Be prepared for the unexpected.
    Is SPCA’s hotline on your mobile phone ?

    Carol Dyer

    One early morning in March I turned a corner on my way to the Clear Water Bay Country Park and saw a dog lying in the road. It was a foxy-coloured animal of medium size, probably weighing about 22 kg, with a black-tipped feathery tail. It clearly wasn’t dead, and it didn’t appear injured. What its face was like I couldn’t see because on its head was jammed a discarded, industrial-sized, polyethylene screw-necked container, the sort often seen in hardware shops or catering establishments. I recognized it however as one of a group of feral dogs that live in the area.

    I pulled into a lay-by and got out, leaving my own two dogs in the back of my car. As I approached the animal, a dog-walking friend stopped and parked on the kerb to join me. We slowly positioned ourselves either side of the stray, but it sensed our presence and became nervous. Concerned that it might make a run for the bushes, my companion fetched a soft leash from her car while I guarded the most obvious exit route. The dog could see nothing through the container, but may well have known where the hillside lay; the shotcrete slope on the other side of the road would have allowed no escape.

    Slipping a generous loop of leash over the dog’s head, we soon had the animal restrained. I grabbed the jar and pulled, but couldn’t get it off. I tried again, easing a finger between the screw neck and the animal’s coat, but only succeeded in sending the dog into a paroxysm of fear and causing it to leap around frantically on the end of the lasso. The container was stuck fast and pulling wasn’t going to work.

    We considered our options. We could walk the dog to the country park for help from grounds staff, but it was still some distance and we could not leave our own dogs in our cars on the roadside. Or we could call the SPCA hotline – but we didn’t have the number. At that moment, a man drove by in a van and stopped. He kindly came to give us a hand, but had no more success at pulling the container off than I had had. The only way to remove it was to cut it.

    He left us – I thought momentarily to drive away – but he returned with a penknife. Fortunately, at least for us if not the dog, the animal’s frenzied leaping around and the fact that the neck of the jar was now jammed behind its ears meant it had become anoxic and had quietened down. It took only moments to slice though the screw threads of the jar’s neck and down one side. As the container was slid off, we released the leash and the dog ran dazed to the other side of the road. There was no sign of anything in the container, so what the animal had pushed its head in to get is anyone’s guess.

    Some while later when I thought about what had happened and that the dog would have died a horrible death had it not had help, I found myself saying, “What if?” What if no one else had come along? What if it was evening and getting dark? What if the dog had made a dash into the bushes and down the heavily wooded slope? My only recourse then would have been the SPCA hotline number. But it wasn’t on the phone.

     

    Is it on your mobile phone? SPCA Animal Rescue Hotline 2711 1000.

     

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  • Laboratory Animals in China and Hong Kong                                       14 – 15

    Laboratory Animals in China and Hong Kong

    How ironic that a veterinarian working in the laboratory animal and research fields has been asked by the Hong Kong SPCA to write about the use of animals in research in Asia. It is my hope to provide an optimistic impression that laboratory animal welfare in Asia is improving. 

    Firstly a simple fact: “animal-based research is moving to Asia”. China and India are the next big players in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries (which by my definition and for the purposes of this article will also include academic research in the medical and related life sciences). Asia is still a long way behind the USA and Europe but the gap with the West is narrowing. This is encouraging because lifesaving discoveries will be spread more evenly across the world, but frightening because of the cost our fellow sentient beings are forced to pay in order to ease human suffering and prolong human life.

    Critics of animal research are very quick to point out that animal protection laws, in the highly regulated area of animal-based research, in the USA and Europe are less than satisfactory, but they nonetheless exist and are enforced. They provide a level of protection to animals used in research, force transparency upon the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and provide an opportunity for involvement of less radical opponents of research. However, the critics argue that Asia is not the USA or Europe and that there is nothing of an equivalent level of legal sophistication in Asia.

    For example, China still has no national Animal Welfare Act and arguably there is a lack of a cultural awareness of animal welfare as reflected in the myriad of negative press articles about the treatment of animals. However, when it comes to protecting animals in research much has happened in China. Arguably the welfare of animals used in research in China is better protected than any other group of animals except maybe the giant pandas. Why? The answer is one of economic reality. Whether the Chinese officials responsible for pharmaceutical and biotechnology research policies care about the welfare of animals is immaterial. What matters is that European and American consumers care, and they force the European and American pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to also care about animal welfare. This in turn necessitates that the Chinese also care about animal welfare. So for Chinese officials and researchers, animal welfare is an economic imperative. How does China protect the welfare of animals used in research if there are no national animal welfare laws?

    It does this through a myriad of administrative means, usually city or provincial regulations. For example, Beijing, which has the oldest and most developed set of regulations concerning the use of animals in research, applies its regulations quite rigorously.

     

    Are regulations good enough?

    Frankly, the preferred option is a well-enforced national legislation similar to the UK’s Scientific Procedure Act 1986. But even in the West there are examples where, even with national laws, the state of animal well-being is not well protected. The prime example is the USA’s Animal Welfare Act 1966 (AWA). The USA AWA specially excludes rodents used in research and so arguably these animals are not protected from abuse. However, there are numerous US subsidiary regulations that protect the welfare of rodents, and my experience with veterinarians in US research facilities shows that the absence of protection under the AWA does not hinder their determination to protect laboratory rodents.

    Many Chinese veterinarians working in Chinese laboratory animal science (are) cognizant of the mantras of laboratory animal welfare.

    However, China is not the USA and one of the reasons the USA’s patchwork system works is because of the veterinary profession’s “culture-of-caring”. The majority of these professionals are committed to the well-being of animals even if this means placing themselves at odds with researchers and corporate culture.

    The nurturing of this culture can be traced to the early and long history of veterinary science in Western Europe and the USA.

    Unfortunately, the history of veterinary science in China has had a chequered past and the profession in China has not yet reached the level of concern of the profession in the West, where it has had over 250 years of development. In general, the Chinese veterinary professional’s awareness of the well-being of sentient non-human beings has not yet matched the level of awareness of veterinary professionals in Europe and the USA. 

    Nonetheless, the Chinese government is encouraging professional development, via the officially sanctioned Chinese Veterinary Medical Association. This is encouraging because, notwithstanding what I have described above, I have found many Chinese veterinarians working in Chinese laboratory animal science cognisant of the mantras of laboratory animal welfare such as the “3Rs – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement”, “Ethical Review Process” and “Harm-Benefit Analysis”.

    Hong Kong deserves a brief mention. It has had legislation controlling animal research since 1963. So it pre-empts even the USA’s AWA by three years. However, while the USA, the United Kingdom and Singapore have promulgated, amended and even rewritten their laws concerning the well-being of animals in research, Hong Kong has done nothing. Hong Kong’s Cap. 340 Animals (Control of Experiments) is transfixed in another era, when the territory had only one university doing research and biotechnology was undreamed of. Fast-forward to the 21st century and it now has six universities doing pharmaceutical and biotechnology research using animals and approximately 50 to 100 biotechnology companies. But Hong Kong’s laws have not kept up to date with these changes and arguably its laboratory animals are less protected than they are in China, which has no national laws, a multitude of regulations and only a voluntary acceptance of international best-practice guidelines.

     

    Dr. Anthony James
    Director, Laboratory Animal Service
    Chinese University of Hong Kong

     

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  • Dog Poisoning - In the Vicinity of Bowen Road, Black’s Link and Holland Street   16

    After more than two decades, the “Bowen Road Dog Poisoner” remains at large despite the efforts and use of new tactics by SPCA Inspectors and the police. The roads in the areas involved are lengthy, winding and full of acute bends, making it almost impossible for the perpetrator of this deadly crime to be detected. 

    Over 200 dogs and at least one cat have been poisoned during the period, and although the frequency and the number of animals poisoned each year have gradually declined, the desire and determination to arrest and prosecute the culprit remain as strong as ever.

    In the early nineties, dogs were found poisoned almost every month from laced bait left in the verges along Bowen Road and Black’s Link. When investigations were stepped up and preventive measures introduced, the incidents of poisoning dropped to something like once every two to three months and the bait was found in concealed areas and on slopes accessible only to unleashed dogs.

    Action by both the SPCA and the police was further increased towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, and the frequency of dog poisoning dropped to about twice a year, once in February/March and once in October/November.

    Between October 2010 and February 2012, SPCA Inspectors and the police were successful in preventing any poisonings for about 16 months by regularly searching for and removing poisonous bait before any dogs became victims. During this period, suspected laced bait was found seven times. Despite these proactive efforts from the SPCA and police which have prevented more pets from dying in this cruel manner, kind-hearted donors were still offering a reward of HKD160,000 for anyone who provided information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of the suspect.

    Unfortunately, in June 2012 three dogs, believed to be strays and suspected to have been poisoned, were found dead in three different locations without any bait being uncovered nearby. However, eight lots of suspected poisonous bait were found at another location within the area but some distance away from where the carcasses were. In response to these latest incidents, the reward has been topped up to HKD200,000. 

    Dog walkers who use these areas are reminded to keep their dogs leashed or to muzzle them to make sure they don’t eat anything that has been put there to poison them. Anyone who wishes to help increase the reward is welcome to do so. The SPCA will continue in its effort to combat this inhumane crime and to strive to have the offender arrested.

     

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  • The true cost of the cute puppy in the window                                      17

    SPCA’s Sick Puppies from Pet Shops
    Survey Update April 2012 

    The plight of sick puppies purchased from pet shops in Hong Kong has long been a sad fact of life for new owners and veterinary surgeons alike; often with very little being done to solve the root cause.

    In an effort to highlight any welfare issues, improve the well-being of animals and protect potential pet owners, the SPCA has been monitoring the incidence of sick puppies being sold in Hong Kong pet shops through our Inspectorate and Veterinary teams.

    In November 2006 a survey into the incidence of sick puppies from pet shops was initiated in an effort to produce hard data to use in lobbying the government for stronger controls and identify problem areas. The SPCA was able to gather the following data thanks to the support of the Hong Kong Veterinary Association and the Animal Welfare Advisory Group.

    We are planning to continue to monitor the situation and are again seeking the support of private veterinary clinics and the general public as well as our own veterinary team.

    We have updated the report form (in Chinese and English) for vets and clients to fill in at the time of consultation. To help streamline the process this form can be downloaded from the SPCA’s Website Animal Welfare Section: http://www.spca.org.hk/welfare/eng/pet_shop_puppies.asp.

    We believe our report is only the tip of the iceberg, the actual figures being much greater. We hope this survey can continue to highlight problems regarding pet shops in Hong Kong and be a useful tool in lobbying the government for stronger controls in an effort to improve animal welfare.

    Between November 2006 and January 2012, of the 225 reported cases we found that:

    • 77.3% of puppies were 12 weeks or younger.
    • A staggering 78.7% of puppies became sick within a week of purchase with 14.7% of them actually being sick on the day of purchase.
    • 37.3% of puppies had no micro-chip certificate and 17.8% had no accompanying vaccination card; two findings that are in breach of the animal trader licence under Cap 139 Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance that is relevant to regulating the pet trade.
    • In 10.7% of cases, no receipt was issued, which is against good consumer practice.
    • Most problem pet shops were located at Victory Avenue, Mongkok and Cannon Street, Causeway Bay.
    • Presumptive diagnoses included canine distemper (54.7%), parvovirus (21.3%) and upper respiratory tract infections (19.1%); 38.7% of puppies presented with more than one disease.
    • All the above can be prevented with vaccination and proper disease control measures.
    • Mortality was 19.6% due to disease or euthanasia. The actual figure is likely to be higher since puppies could have died after clinical treatment without the clinics being informed.

     

    Dr. Jane Gray
    BVSc, MRCVS
    Chief Veterinary Surgeon

     

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  • Vet’s Case Book                                                                                    18 – 19

    A “Bag of Ice” Fracture: External Fixation of a Comminuted Fracture in a Street Cat       

    A one-year-old male, neutered street cat from our Cat Colony Care Programme (CCCP) presented with a severely comminuted fracture of his distal femur (thigh bone). A comminuted fracture is one where the bone is broken or crushed into many pieces. The cause of the injury was unknown, but was most likely a traffic accident or fall from a height.

    Surgical correction was necessary, but the bone had multiple cracks and when approached during surgery small bone fragments broke off easily. This type of fracture is termed a “bag of ice” fracture, as the smashed bone resembles ice that has been placed in a bag and hit with a blunt object. There was only 1.5 cm of normal bone in the distal fragment, which made fixation very challenging.

    Due to the severe nature of the fracture it was decided that an external skeletal fixator (ESF) was the modality most likely to give the best result. An intramedullary pin was placed down the centre of the femur. This is a thick, straight, stainless steel pin which provides very strong fixation along the central axis of the bone; the pin is useful in that it resists bending, but it provides almost no rotational or compressive stability (see diagram A). To provide this type of support smaller threaded pins were driven into the top and bottom of the bone and held in place with special clamps (see diagram B).

    There are almost limitless variations on external skeletal fixator frame design; generally the more pins and connecting bars the stronger and more rigid the frame. External skeletal fixator frames provide very strong fixation and are incredibly adaptable in dealing with difficult fractures. The disadvantages include the need for a second general anaesthetic to remove the frames; although this means all the metal implants are out which can be a good thing as surgical implants can occasionally cause long-term irritation. The other disadvantage is ESF frames can be quite shocking for the owners at first and the pin tracks can develop infections more easily than bone plates (which are completely buried under skin and muscle and not visible externally).

    The cat was using the leg well within a few days of surgery. There was a slight bloody discharge from the pins, which is quite common when using ESF devices especially if the pins need to be placed close to a joint.

    At six weeks, radiographs showed complete healing of the fracture despite the fact it was severely splintered initially. The frame and pins were all removed at this time. The cat is now using the leg normally and back to his old tricks. He is very friendly and good natured and currently being looked after by a carer; but he would like a loving, permanent home, so if anyone wants to adopt him please call our CCCP section on 2232 5564.

     

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  • Vet Profile                                                                                              19

    Dr Nicola Hooper
    Title: Veterinary Surgeon
    Nationality: New Zealand 

    Academic qualifications:

    Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), Massey University, New Zealand.

     

    Career path:

    After graduating in December 2004, I spent 2½years in a truly mixed rural practice in Kumeu, New Zealand, mainly working with horses and small animals (with the odd alpaca, pig, sheep and cow to keep things interesting). I then headed to Europe on my “big overseas experience” locuming in various practices all over the UK and travelling in between. When my visa ran out I took the long way home to New Zealand via Africa for several months before accepting a job with the SPCA in Hong Kong in May 2010.

     

    Veterinary interests:

    All aspects (still willing to give most things a go).

     

    Reasons for working at the SPCA (HK):

    I spent some time locuming at the SPCA at home, which I greatly enjoyed, so was keen to join the team in Hong Kong. The SPCA has a very large and interesting caseload, a great bunch of vets and the welfare aspect is very rewarding.

     

    Pets:

    “Piglet” the hamster (which I was meant to be just fostering… but she ended up staying).

     

    Interests:

    Travelling, photography, camping, diving, reading, spending time with family and friends. I love going to concerts and pretty much anything to do with the beach (and sunshine)!

     

    Most unforgettable experience:

    One of my most memorable experiences would have to be the first foaling I attended as a qualified vet. The actual giving-birth process normally takes 10 to 30 minutes, so if you get called out to a problem you only have a short time to get the foal delivered before it dies due to lack of oxygen.

    At around 1 am one night, I got an emergency call from one of the local race-horse owners; this particular night was very stormy with torrential rain and fork lightening overhead. I got to the stables to find the mare lying on the ground in one of the back paddocks near a cliff with a 30-metre drop to the sea! With no moonlight, the only light we had to work by was torchlight, and there was no way to move the mare to safer ground!

    This was the mare’s first pregnancy and she had developed a tear between her rectum and vagina. This can occur during delivery because the pelvis is narrow and the foal’s front hooves can perforate into the rectum. In her case, a large tear had been made and the foal had become stuck. Luckily the foal was delivered successfully and we repaired the mare’s laceration several weeks later once the swelling had subsided. She made a full recovery and went on to have another foal with no complications 2 years later. 

     

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  • Vet’s tips - Caring For Your Bunny!                                                       19 

    Dr Nicola’s TOP TIPS
    Caring For Your Bunny ! 

    As rabbits have an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years, it is important to know how to look after them in order to have a happy, healthy bunny !

     

    Diet

    Hay should form the majority of the diet and be provided at all times. Never buy hay that is damp, dusty or old, or does not smell fresh. HAY ALSO HELPS TO PREVENT DENTAL DISEASE!

    Green foods include bok choy, carrot/beet tops, lettuce, dandelion, cabbage and should be fed at a maximum of about 1 packed cup per kg of body weight daily.

    Treat foods such as fruits (apples and peach) and veggies (carrots, squash and peppers) can be fed at 1 tablespoon per kg of body weight daily.

    Commercial pellets should comprise only 10 per cent of a healthy rabbit’s diet.

     

    TOP TIP:
    Find a treat food your rabbit likes and feed a small amount daily. If it will not eat it, then there may be problems brewing and you need to keep a close eye for other health problems!

     

    Environment

    The cage should allow the rabbit to stand up on its hind legs without hitting the roof, provide a resting and hiding area and have space for a litter box. It should be easy to clean and indestructible.

    EXERCISE IS VITAL!! To exclusively cage a rabbit can cause problems including obesity, pododermatitis (inflammation resulting in sores of the feet caused by sitting in a damp or dirty environment), thinning of the bones leading to fractures, poor muscle tone and behaviour problems.

     

    Desexing

    The best age to neuter both males and females is just before or shortly after sexual maturity; that is 4 to 6 months in small to medium breeds.

    The benefits include: Prevention of cancer of the uterus and other uterine diseases, which can affect up to 80 per cent of females over 2 years of age. Desexing also prevents urine spraying (more common in males) and reduces the incidence of aggression in both sexes.

     

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  • Vet facts - The fat facts: Obesity in pets                                                20

    Dr. Chirag Patel’s VET FACTS

    THE FAT FACTS : OBESITY IN PETS

    Summer has arrived and with it the heat, which can be oppressive for both pets and owners. This is especially so in dogs and cats that are overweight or obese. 

    Obesity is an increasing public health issue. In the United Kingdom there has been a 400 per cent increase in the number of obese people in the last 25 years – and this is an important fact, as overweight people are far more likely to have overweight dogs.

     

    The prevalence of obese pets is increasing worldwide:

    25% in Australia

    39% in France

    52% in the UK

     

    Obesity is essentially a form of “malnutrition” i.e. a nutritional disease. We normally associate malnutrition with a lack of food and poverty, but in the developed world it is an excess of food (and a concurrent lack of physical activity) that is leading to the obesity epidemics in humans and their pets.

    Obesity can be defined as an excessive accumulation of fat in the body and there are a number of grading systems your veterinary surgeon may use to objectively assess your pet’s body condition. For example, a score of 1 to 9 is often used for dogs with 4 to 5 being ideal, 1 emaciated and 9 morbidly obese! 

    As in humans, obesity in animals is known to predispose to or exacerbate a wide range of medical problems, and ultimately reduce lifespans. In dogs and cats, medical problems associated with obesity include:

    • Lower urinary tract disease
    • Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) in cats
    • Respiratory and cardiovascular difficulties
    • Heat Stroke
    • Skin disease
    • Diabetes
    • Arthritis

     

    These medical problems can lead to a reduction in your pet’s quality of life and in some cases, such as heat stroke, may be fatal.

    The first step in weight control is for your pet to have regular wellness examinations by your veterinary surgeon; an ideal time is at annual vaccination. As well as accurately weighing your pet and giving a body condition score, your veterinary surgeon can also identify if there are underlying medical conditions that may be a factor in your pet’s weight problem, for example hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity resulting in a slow metabolism).

    The next step (once medical factors have been excluded) is to work out a dietary and exercise programme to help reduce/control your pet’s weight. This is perhaps the hardest step, as it requires the owner’s (meaning all family members who feed the pet) to be committed to a regular treatment schedule. It’s not the cat or dog which opens the fridge and feeds itself with pork chops or chicken wings or has the choice of whether to exercise or not. Feeding and exercise are the owner’s responsibility! The weight reduction programme will usually involve a combination of both diet change and an exercise regime. Ensuring your pet is not obese can help improve its life and yours too… giving you both the potential to live longer! 

     

    A Fresh New Look for Cheung Chau Clinic
    The SPCA clinic in Cheung Chau began operations in 1981; originally providing consultation services, general health care and animal welfare work to the local community. In 2003, the clinic was renovated and as a result was able to provide basic surgical procedures and de-sexing. The new surgical facilities enabled the SPCA to perform Cat Colony Care Programme (CCCP) desexing for our local carers; eliminating the need for them to transport the cats to our Hong Kong Centre. In addition to veterinary services; an Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) lived in the clinic as a caretaker and was responsible for looking after stray animals that had been abandoned and needed transporting to Hong Kong. Ah Kei is the current AWO stationed at our Cheung Chau clinic.

    Recently due to the generous donation of a flat on Cheung Chau by the Wong Tak Sing family Ah Kei has been able to move out of the clinic. This opened up space at the clinic and enabled us to renovate and expand the facilities; adding a new surgery and recovery room. Currently the Cheung Chau clinic is open on Thursdays from 9:30am – 4:30pm for surgery and consultation by appointment. It is hoped to increase the opening hours later if there is demand. 

    To publicise the improved facilities, we will be holding an open day celebration inviting all local residents and pet owners to honour over 30 years of animal care and welfare on Cheung Chau.

    Cheung Chau Centre
    CX277 Tung Wan,
    Cheung Chau
    Tel: 2981 4176

    *Out of clinic hours call our Hong Kong Centre on 28020501 or Emergency Hotline on 27111000.

     

    Stanley Adoption Centre

    The SPCA is pleased to announce the opening of a new adoption centre in Stanley. The Stanley Adoption Centre, opened on 1 June 2012, is a novel SPCA initiative to increase the awareness of the benefits of adoption by creating a community adoption centre, and in doing so to find more suitable homes for Hong Kong’s needy animals.

    Currently the centre is quite small with just five holding kennels, but the SPCA will continue to work with its neighbour, Hong Kong Animals Speak. Together they will provide a place within Stanley where people from all over Hong Kong can visit, with or without their animals, to enjoy coffee and socialise, talk about dog issues and learn about the SPCA’s canine companions in a comfortable and friendly environment. These welcoming premises will provide a perfect place to get to know the dogs which are available for adoption.

    The SPCA believes that by increasing the awareness within the community of the number and types of dogs available for adoption, it will be able to help more animals. The Society will appreciate your support and invites you to visit the Stanley Adoption Centre.

     

    For more information, please visit our website: www.spca.org.hk

     

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  • SPCA Case files                                                                                    22 – 23

    In the three months from December 2011 to February 2012, the Inspectorate received a total of 9,182 calls and handled 1,086 animals. SPCA Inspectors rescued 486 animals, investigated 190 complaints, and conducted inspections of 88 pet shops and 211 wet markets.

     

    December (Under investigation)

    Pit Bull Terriers are classified as dangerous dogs under The Dangerous Dogs Regulation which was passed in Hong Kong in 2000 and as such are subject to controls not applicable to other dogs.

    In December, six Pit Bull Terriers were found left unattended in a village house in Pat Heung tied up with heavy metal chains. They had no water or shelter and were pitifully thin. Police are investigating this as a possible “Cruelty to Animals” and “Possession of Fighting Dogs” case with a view to prosecuting the owner.

     

    December (Under investigation)

    Another potential “Cruelty to Animals” case came to light in the same month in Hung Shui Kiu. Twenty-seven pedigree dogs, including Huskies, Maltese and Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Corgies, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas, were left unattended in a village house without food or water. Most of them were caged and were living in totally unacceptable and unhygienic conditions. Police are investigating this case also with a view to prosecuting the owner under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance.

     

    December (Rescued)

    Water catchment channels in Hong Kong often seem to catch more than just water. This young mongrel found in Kam Shan Country Park had probably jumped in for a drink and been unable to get out. An SPCA Inspector responded to a call from a member of the public and having arrived at the scene was able to retrieve the dog. The animal appeared to be healthy and was released back into its territorial environment as requested by the caller. It perhaps will now know to rely on more accessible sources of water.

     

    January (Under investigation)

    Another case is being investigated of dogs being kept in a village house without proper care, this time in Yuen Long. A number of pure breed dogs were found in the house in a dirty and unhygienic environment and were without food or water. They were all caged. It was too late for two of them, which were already dead, and a further two had severe skin disease. The police are investigating this possible “Cruelty to Animals” case with a view to prosecuting the owner.

     

    January (Rescued)

    A call came in to the hotline in January from an owner hiking in Tai Tam Country Park reporting that her retriever had fallen some distance down a slope and appeared to be stuck. She asked the SPCA for help and an Inspector was dispatched to the scene. The nature of the job of our Inspectors requires that they are fit and this one abseiled down the slope and managed to bring the dog back up to its owner. She was extremely appreciative of his efforts, as was the dog – evidenced by the look on his face in this photo!

     

    January (Collected)

    Turtles represent longevity and good luck and this one certainly had its share of good luck when it was found by a fisherman in Lau Fau Shan and handed over to the SPCA. A sea turtle of about one foot in length, it had a large hole in the shell on its back near the tail and a small wound on its left flipper. As sea turtles are an endangered species, it was later collected by the Wetland and Fauna Conservation Officer from the AFCD for follow-up custody and care.

     

    January (Rescued)

    This rescue of a small cat trapped in a water catchment channel in Tsuen Wan also had a happy ending. Alerted to its predicament, SPCA Inspectors got the cat out of the channel and took it to the SPCA’s Wanchai hospital for custody and care. The cat was later homed and is now enjoying the catered comforts of a Hong Kong household.

     

    January (Rescued)

    Cats are notoriously curious and this young kitten managed to get its head stuck in a section of discarded plastic drain pipe on the platform of a building in Sham Shui Po. The cat and the pipe were transferred to the SPCA’s Wanchai hospital where

    Inspectors freed the animal from its unintentional shackle. It received treatment and care at the SPCA, and was later homed.

     

    February (Convicted)

    In Pawprint No. 85 we reported an animal cruelty case regarding two dogs which had been left unattended for a long period without food and water in an apartment in Fanling. When found, both dogs were in an extremely emaciated state. The owner pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty in front of the presiding magistrate and was fined $7,000.

     

    February (Rescued)

    When the windows of high-rise buildings in Hong Kong don’t have screens or bars, cases of cats falling from them are a common cause of calls to the SPCA hotline. This cat had fallen from its owner’s apartment on the seventh floor of a residential building in Tai Po onto a projection outside the fifth. Responding to a hotline call and arriving at the scene, it was with considerable effort that Inspectors managed to get hold of the cat and bring it back up to the apartment and to its owner. If you live in a high-rise and keep a cat, please keep it safe.

     

    February (Rescued)

    One wonders how they got there, but two small puppies were reported to be trapped high on a slope in Sau Mau Ping. Inspectors drove to the area, located the puppies and climbed up the slope. Having reached the puppies, which were still quite young, they took them to the SPCA for a veterinary check. These were two of Hong Kong’s lucky puppies as they were later homed.

     

    February (Rescued)

    Another lucky animal which has a kind member of the public and the SPCA to thank is this little kitten. Meowing was reported as having come from inside air-conditioning ducting above a store in Sham Shui Po over a three-day period. SPCA Inspectors went to the premises and located the meowing in a loft space storeroom. With the assistance of a technician they dismantled the piping and rescued the kitten before taking it back to the Wanchai centre to be checked by a vet. It was fostered for two weeks and homed soon after being returned to the centre. 

     

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  • Serving the Community                                                                         24

    SPCA Inspector Cheung Ting Kong
    Describes the challenges that can face an inspector at the SPCA

    Inspector Cheung Ting Kong joined the SPCA’s Inspectorate Department in 2010. He is also a member of the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force, devoting his off-duty time to further serving the community.

     

    HOW I JOINED THE SPCA

    In 2008, I graduated from university and joined a listed company as an e-trade professional. A year spent doing clerical work made me realise that I was not cut out for an office environment. At this time, I spotted a recruitment ad for SPCA animal inspectors. It was an outdoor job and the work seemed challenging. I applied, and after a stringent vetting process I was appointed as an inspector responsible for rescues.

     

    CHALLENGING MY OWN LIMITS

    For most of my new colleagues whom I joined, handling animals was no big deal, but it was a great challenge for me as I had a nasal allergy and no prior experience of even feeding animals. The training the SPCA put me through was much tougher than I had expected. In fact, I found it much too difficult. I became discouraged and wanted to back out, but my supervisor and colleagues kept encouraging me and helped me in many different ways. My confidence and spirit came back and I persevered, learning and overcoming myself. I finally succeeded !

     

    UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES

    Working in the Inspectorate Department has been an eye-opener. To save an animal in distress, we often need to climb hills, scale slopes and wade through water. The job regularly involves us in nasty and dangerous situations. I remember a case in which we responded to a call about a wounded mongrel in a rural environment. When we arrived at the scene, we found the mongrel lying half-dead on the edge of a marshy pond about four or five meters below the road. The slope down to the pond was very steep and muddy, and my colleagues and I had to pick our way down its gradient carrying a stretcher to where the dog was lying. Although badly wounded, the dog put up a desperate fight and we had to restrain and immobilise it. Carefully we carried it back up the slope and sent it to hospital right away.  

    This particular rescue job, however, gave me a deep sense of satisfaction. I felt I was doing something meaningful. From that time on, whenever an animal has needed my help, I have tried my best to give it and to retrieve the animal.

     

     

    INCREASING PUBLIC CONCERN

    Apart from the usual animal problems we deal with, the other aspect of the work that has made an impression on me is the appeals by the public. Very often local people have listened to rumour and gossip and are distrustful. We need to answer each of their questions with patient explanations. Sometimes, people express their dissatisfaction with us, or even become agitated and angry. Such situations require us to have very good communication skills, to keep calm and to handle each case in a professional manner.

    In recent years, there has been increasing concern for animal welfare among the broader public. We hope that through education and awareness enhancement, we can encourage people to value all life, to respect it more and help to prevent animal maltreatment. I look forward to a Hong Kong, whether dense urban concrete jungle or rural countryside, where humans and animals can live in harmony.  

     

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  • Happenings                                                                                           26 – 27

    Record Attendance at SPCA Pet Adoptathon

    The SPCA Pet Adoptathon, which took place over May 5 and 6, saw more than 80 animals finding new homes and over 3,000 people visiting SPCA centres.

    Participants also attended workshops on pet grooming, training, care and nutrition. Adopters received starter kits to help their newest family members adjust quickly to their homes. News of the event was spread through various promotional channels: advertising on the MTR and in magazines, social media, roadshows schools, a street carnival and various newspaper reports. We are grateful to our sponsors and volunteers who have made the Pet Adoptathon such a success.

     

    Extended Clinic Opening Hours for Mui Wo SPCA Centre 

    The SPCA is pleased to announce extended clinic hours at our Mui Wo centre to better serve the community.

    From April 1st 2012 our Mui Wo clinic will be open on Thursdays for full veterinary services, thus bringing the by-appointment-only service to 4 ½ days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning). Please call our Mui Wo centre on 2984 0060 or our main Wanchai centre on 2802 0501 for appointment bookings or enquiries.

    We look forward to providing the best care for your animals.

     

    Lets Get Responsible at Kowloon Bay Pet Expo!

    The 8th Hong Kong International Pet Accessory Expo will be held between Friday July 27 and 29 at the Star Hall of KITEC Centre, Kowloon Bay. The SPCA is proud to be a supporter of this event. Together with the organizer, Paper Communications Limited, we will be promoting Responsible Pet Ownership during the expo with a press conference, stage appearances, an exhibit and leaflets. Be one of the 100,000 visitors and help spread the message of responsibility, respect, care and consideration. Remember to visit our booth for the latest range of SPCA branded items!

    For more information please contact Bonnie on 2232 5578.

     

    More Hotels Take Shark Fins Off Their Menus

    Following the lead of Peninsula Hotel, SPCA is happy to note that many more hotels are recognizing the negative impact of shark fin consumption. We applaud the following hotels for their act of conscience.

     

    Dropped shark fin completely:                   

    • City Garden Hotel
    • Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel
    • Hong Kong Marco Polo Hotel
    • Island Shangri-la
    • Mandarin Oriental Landmark
    • Shangri-la Kowloon
    • The Excelsior
    • The Mira
    • The Peninsula
    • Upper House

     

    Dropped shark fin in all menus, but served upon request:

    • Eaton Smart
    • Four Seasons
    • Harbour Grand Kowloon
    • JW Marriott  JW
    • Langham Place
    • Renaissance Harbour View Hotel
    • Ritz-Carlton
    • SkyCity Marriott
    • The Langham

     

    Frisbee Dogs - an upcoming dog sport

    Dog sports consist of high intensity and very fast-paced sport activities. Many of these sports are shown as competitions on television for the public’s entertainment. In Hong Kong, dog sports have grown to allow an owner and their dog to spend time and bond with one another. One of the challenges to teach a dog is a sport called “Disc Dog” or also commonly known as “Frisbee Dog”.

    Frisbee Dog celebrates the bond between an owner and his/her dog by allowing them to work together. Not all dogs immediately understand the concept of the sport. A dog may not immediately know to turn and chase after a disc that is thrown over its head. To begin, the disc should be thrown straight to the dog at a short distance. Once a dog knows how to catch, it can learn the additional concept of running to catch the disc. The disc should be thrown at increasing heights, gradually throwing the disc higher, until it finally goes well over the dog’s head. Many owners and trainers find that teaching a dog how to catch a Frisbee is difficult. However, it is really quite simple if you take small steps at a time. Your dog will then soon get used to Frisbee catching.

    Mr Wing Lee is both a Frisbee Dog player and a dog trainer in Hong Kong. He began playing Frisbee Dog in 2008 and is currently running a club in Hong Kong for dog sports. Wing enjoys playing Frisbee Dog because he finds the amount of focus and concentration that a dog needs to give to participate very interesting. He recognises that obedience and the dog’s ability to concentrate are important if the dog is to play this sport well.

    Wing believes that the sport is as yet not played much in Hong Kong because there is no venue where people can meet to enjoy it. Wing’s wish is to promote Frisbee Dog to the Hong Kong community through his Hong Kong dog sports club, and to be able to host a Frisbee Dog competition in Hong Kong through training dogs in the sport.

     

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  • Happy Endings                                                                                      28

    Like a Duck to Water

    Donald may be missing a leg – it was amputated because of irreversible nerve damage to the paw – but he is by no means missing out on life. Ana Crawford and her father, David, who adopted Donald last year say he is a very “happy and easy” cat.

    Living as they do on a boat, Ana and her father worried that Donald might have a hard time adapting to life on the water. But to their surprise and delight he took to it like the proverbial duck right from the start. Perfectly at ease in his new living environment, Donald took off to inquisitively explore the boat’s every interesting nook and cranny and to chase around “play fighting” with their other cat, also adopted from the SPCA. If there is nothing more pressing to do on board, then watching the two of them expend seemingly inexhaustible amounts of energy racing from one end of the boat to the other is a source of unending entertainment.

    Despite Donald’s early trauma, Ana, David and the animal care team at the SPCA describe him as a cat that is both friendly and full of the joys of life, features of his personality that his owners find particularly humbling. Originally thinking that Donald would be disadvantaged, given his loss of a limb, they had this notion swiftly dispelled by his adroitness and vivacity. Donald is an inspiring example of how, with the love and care of others, it is possible to overcome the vicissitudes of life.

     

    Cato: A classical name for a classical cat!

    What prompted Mr Wong to take Cato home, other than just an unaccountable feeling like love at first sight, is hard to explain. Cato has no particular feline attribute that Mr Wong can pinpoint to explain what drew them together; somehow their fates crossed and they now happily keep each other company.

    During the first few days in his new home, Cato was frightened and insecure and would bite at any attempt to pick him up. However, he was always pretty well behaved when food was being offered to him and Mr Wong took great comfort in this. But within a month, Cato realized that he had landed on his four feet and gradually began to let his guard down, rubbing his body against his new owner for attention and caresses.

    Now Cato is very playful and full of energy, almost too much so at times according to Mr Wong. He is highly innovative when it comes to toys – just a bit of dry cat food can keep him entertained as he chases it around. He also likes to play with shoestrings, but Cato’s greatest past-time is hunting cockroaches. This is no doubt great news for Mr Wong as his apartment gets an extra cleaning from its new resident.

     

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