Issue 86 - 2012/2

Issue 86 - 2012/2


  • SPCA Inspectors: Intervention, Prevention, Education     2 - 3
  • Cats Get Stuck in Amazing Places      4 - 5
  • Surprise from the Wild Side      6 - 7
  • Pethics      8 - 9
  • Going HOME       10
  • Deserving our Respect: Hong Kong’s Horseshoe Crabs       11
  • Shark Facts? Draw your own conclusion       12 - 13
  • SPCA Supporters Help Bangkok’s Animal Flood Victims      14 - 15
  • Mathematical Pigeons are amazing, but no so surprising      16
  • Bear Bile: Unparalleled Cruelty       17
  • Vet’s Case Book          18
  • Vet Profile        19
  • Top Tips       19
  • Vet Facts: Chronic kidney disease        20
  • The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming       21
  • SPCA Case Files         22 - 23
  • Long Distance Rescues      24
  • Happenings        26 - 27
  • Happy Ending       28


(text only version)

  • SPCA Inspectors: Intervention, Prevention, Education        2 – 3

    SPCA Inspectors: Intervention, Prevention, Education

    “From what we saw during animal cruelty investigations, not all people who hurt animals are malicious. Majority of the cases are of people who are negligent,” says Tony Ho, Chief Officer Inspectorate of the SPCA. Of all the animal cruelty complaints we investigate, less than two percent genuinely involve cruelty to animals and about one percent required prosecution. This is actually consistent with the situations in Australia and in UK. Ho is however concerned that many people do not appreciate that animals are sentient, capable of feeling pain mentally and physically and hence failed to provide an appropriate level of welfare for them. Animal cruelty prevention can be achieved to some extend by enforcing the existing laws, but a lot of the prevention work relies on educating the public and in particular, the offenders.

    The SPCA has existed for 90 years in Hong Kong. Since then the main role of the Society was in animal cruelty prevention and initiating and assisting prosecution of such cases. In the last 60 years or so, the Inspectorate has acquired a more formal structure with uniforms, ranks and training similar to a disciplined force, and bearing a close similarity to the RSPCA of the UK and Australia.

    Animal rescue and complaint investigation has been the main tasks of the Unit, with much of the work involving rescues from accidents, animals trapped in dangerous places, or abuse and cruelty cases, and their resulting investigations. In addition, the Inspectorate places great importance in prevention of cruelty. Reactively they investigate animal cruelty complaints received through different means. Proactively the Inspectorate places great importance in prevention of animal cruelty through inspecting premises where live animals are kept.

    A series of prosecution action against offenders in wet markets which in the past were hotspots in animal atrocities had resulted in a significant improvement in wet market violations. Today for over 10 years as a result of SPCA’s constant inspections and ongoing education the improvement has been maintained and a higher sense of animal welfare amongst the public and the wet market stall keepers has been achieved.

    The Inspectorate also sees itself as having a major role in the monitoring of pet shops. The SPCA discourages purchases of animals from pet shops due to welfare issues at the source of the trade and in the shops. Inspection of pet shops helps to keep the shops aligned with at least the minimum welfare standards required by the law and to educate shop operators in maintaining animal-friendly policies.

    The increasing number of animal shelters, while well-intended, also raises several welfare concerns. Many are operated to less-than-ideal standards. The Inspectorate helps these shelters with counsel, advice and physical assistance where necessary. 

    As the SPCA expands its scope of work, the Inspectorate’s role correspondingly increases. The Inspectorate plays an important part in the Society’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) scheme in doing all site assessments for new colonies, and mediation and negotiation in conflicts between the authorities, carers or the community.

    In the long term, the Inspectorate’s education work may have the most impact. “While we see our work as preventing cruelty, we believe it is more important for the public and the offenders to understand the impact of what they are doing,” says Ho. Thus in animal cruelty incidents the SPCA takes a three-tier approach. In cases where there is poor animal welfare but no violation of the law, the Inspectors will give advice. In light violation of animal cruelty laws, where the offender admits to wrongdoing and immediately rectifies the situation, SPCA gives a warning. In severe cases where animal abuse is evident, the Inspector will initiate prosecution. Even so, this is with a view to educate and help offenders heighten their animal-welfare awareness.

    The Inspectorate team’s education work also extends to the younger generation, whereby it works closely with the SPCA Education Department in visiting schools. For a more hands-on and in-depth experience, the Inspectorate operates a Cadet Inspector Corp for teenagers, giving them the opportunity to learn about the work of Inspectors and assist in promoting the message of ‘respect life, love our animals’, and hope that it would also help to develop a good sense of responsibility within our younger generation.

    The Inspectorate also works with the YMCA to run a four-day Day-camp on humane education for young teens.

    With increasing awareness in animal welfare through education and promotion, public attention and complaints of animal abuse rises. Yet there are often cases where animals which have met an unfortunate demise in accidents are mistaken as victims of animal cruelty. The SPCA continues to be sensitive, handling the sentimental concerns of complainants while keeping in perspective that animals do die from accidents and fights among their species.

    The other challenge is in dealing with euthanasia. The SPCA believes that euthanasia is a viable option in animal welfare terms, when it stops extended and unnecessary suffering. It should be viewed as an act of animal welfare rather than a form of cruelty in itself. Euthanasia for animals in this sense is practiced in many developed countries and is considered a humane act in the right set of circumstances. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that in situations where animals which has been held due to their being un-adoptable due to their feral nature, euthanasia becomes a reluctant choice. Educating the public on euthanasia on animal welfare grounds continues to be a big challenge. The SPCA do not euthanise healthy, homeable animals. 

    Ho thinks that while the standard of animal welfare is high and continues improving in our city, there is still more to be done. Hong Kong people can play a role in several ways in helping our city become a truly humane place: by understanding that, like humans, animals have feelings; by reporting animal abuse; by understanding the animal cruelty laws, which set the minimum animal welfare standards, and having an appreciation of the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare; and not producing surplus animals through buying, abandoning or breeding pets.


    What makes an SPCA Inspector?

    The SPCA Inspector has to be armed with many skills: skills to handle animals, knowledge of animal rescue and use of equipment. Tony Ho, Chief Officer Inspectorate, gives a run-down of an Inspector’s assets:

    • Animal handling skills: knowing how to rescue, collect and capture animals, particularly feral animals, which can be easily scared and run away, and incorporating rescue techniques such as abseiling and use of rescue equipment.
    • Communication skills: resolving and handling conflicts in animal abuse incidents, sensitively dealing with complainants and general “customer service”.
    • Occupational health and safety knowledge: for working in potentially dangerous areas such as from heights and in confined areas.

    Furthermore, Inspectors must be reliable, honest, responsible and amenable to discipline. It is essential that they respect life and love animals.

    It takes a full year for an Inspector to learn the tools of his work, and be able to operate independently. About 20 per cent of his first year is spent in lectures, workshops and seminars, while 80 per cent is practical and on-the-job training.

    Chief Inspectors with more years of experience are selected for special training in investigations and prosecution of animal cruelty cases. These situations require in-depth knowledge of Hong Kong laws related to animal cruelty, investigation techniques, and preparation of evidence and reports for prosecution.


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  • Cats Get Stuck in Amazing Places                                       4 – 5

    Cats are extremely inquisitive creatures and you will be surprised at the different ways they can get into trouble.

    The SPCA Inspectorate’s records provide evidence of some of the more bizarre situations that cats find themselves in. Luckily for the cats, we were there to lend a hand:


    High Places

    We get many calls to assist cats trapped on ledges, trees and nooks and crannies. If you keep cats at home please make sure you install window meshes to stop a curious cat from exploring high places or catching sight of passing birds!


    Shutter gates

    It is hard to imagine why a cat would want to crawl inside a roller shutter. But some do, and often get trapped.

    In Case Number 435SX, we received a call that a cat was trapped in a rolled-up door shutter. The situation was precarious as any movement of the roller shutter would crush the cat. It required much mechanical skill from our inspectors to get the cat out without injury.


    Car engines

    Come winter time and what’s better than a warm, cosy car engine? Cats simply love the hot, dark, confined engine space of a recently parked car and will climb right into its depths. The only problem is that they often can’t find their way out, or become trapped by moving parts of a running engine.

    In Case Number 237XK, Mr Chan started his car one cold winter morning and heard an unusual noise in the engine. He drove the car to his garage in Sai Kung for a look-over by the mechanic, who to his great surprise found two kittens under the bonnet. Sadly, one had been struck by the drive belt, but the other was unharmed. Our inspectors managed to retrieve the kittens after removing several engine parts. Luckily, the mechanic was on hand to put them back again!

    Case Number 874DE occurred on a similarly cold morning when Mr Wong started his car and immediately heard a meow from the front. Knowing that a cat must have got trapped in the engine, he stopped the car and opened the bonnet to look for it. There was no sign of the cat but he could still hear the meowing. Our inspectors arrived, and after a lengthy search found it trapped, of all places, inside the car’s coil spring suspension! After removing a front tire, they were able to bring the cat to safety.



    Hidden from sight at height, cats love lofty spots where they can survey the happenings beneath them. That’s why we get a number of calls about cats trapped inside signage light boxes above shop fronts (especially warm ones!).

    Case Number 2193MM was a report of a litter of kittens trapped on top of a store-front light box in Shamsuipo. Our inspectors arrived and quickly rescued two kittens that were on top of the sign. However, loud meows continued to come from inside the light box. After assessing the situation, the inspectors got permission to cut a small opening on the top of the box and rescued one more kitten. The remaining kitten panicked and crawled deeper into the sign’s interior. With the store owner’s consent, the inspectors dismantled part of the light box and safely retrieved the fourth kitten.


    Barbed wire in high places

    High-rise rescues can often be quite dramatic, not only because of the difficulty of the rescue but also the possibility that during the attempt the cat may panic and jump off the building. Hence, each rescue attempt has to be assessed carefully and minimum force be used in the process.

    In Case Number 130CK, the 24-hour hotline received a call referred from the Fire Services Department that a cat was trapped on the 16th floor of a building in Jordan. Our inspectors hastened to the locality and were taken to the building by the informant. The cat was completely entangled in some razor-sharp concertina wire. The inspectors carefully freed the cat, knowing that any sudden movement would alarm the animal and cause more hurt. The cat sustained some cuts and was taken to the Kowloon animal hostipal for immediate treatment.    



    Cats have a tendency to explore by sticking their heads right into the midst of things, with unexpected results.

    Case Number 672XS involved a hotline a call about a cat trapped in a large rubbish collection bin in Mong Kok. Much to the surprise of our inspectors, the cat had actually poked its head into a hole at the bottom of the upturned trash cart. The forlorn animal was finally freed with the application of some lubricant.


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  • Surprise from the Wild Side                                                  6 – 7

    Surprise from the Wild Side

    Hong Kong has one of Asia’s most diverse ranges of wildlife. On the rare occasions when a wild animal gets entangled in our urban jungle, the SPCA stands ready to help.

    Much of the Society’s work is devoted to helping companion animals, and less is known about wildlife rescues. Here is a sample of the many wild animals we have saved.



    The most common “patients” are kites and egrets, but occasionally owls and even koels get themselves into difficulties. In the majority of situations the birds are injured and unable to fly, and are relatively easy to manage. The creatures must be handled slowly and gently, especially if their injuries are not obvious. 

    One of the more unusual bird rescue situations faced by the SPCA occurred when a call was received on the 24-hour hotline from the management office of Fairview Park, Yuen Long. A dove was spotted hanging upside down, 15 feet up, from the glass of a lamp post unable to free itself, but it was unclear how it was trapped. Our inspectors arrived with an extendable ladder and telescopic net, and working carefully, so as not to injure the poor bird, gently untangled it from the lamp shield where it seemed its leg was caught. Once released, the dove flew away immediately.



    By far the most interesting of our few snake rescues took place on Castle Peak Road in Siu Lam. A python was reported trapped on the top of a roadside sound-reduction barrier 24 feet above the road. The Fire Services Department had spent five hours trying to free the animal but despite many attempts to do so they had been unsuccessful.

    When an SPCA team arrived, it tried various ways of freeing the snake but also failed. A technician from the Highways Department was summoned to attempt to dismantle the barrier but was unable to do this. Not wanting to give up, but anxious that it would soon get dark and no work could be done at night, the SPCA team kept trying to remove pieces of the barrier close to the snake. They managed to remove the last panel at around 5.30 pm and freed the snake. An SPCA vet arrived shortly after and having examined the animal declared it to be healthy. The python was then taken by the AFCD to its management centre at Sheung Shui.

    Another rescue was of a night heron which had got its head stuck in railings in the restricted area of the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. The bird had sustained a neck injury during its struggle to get free. Carefully wrapping the heron in a towel, the inspectors lifted it up to where the gap between the railings widened. Once freed, the bird was sent to an SPCA hospital for treatment.

    In most cases of wildlife rescue, the animals are first brought to the SPCA for treatment or observation and then sent to Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens (KFBG) where they will be rehabilitated



    By far the most interesting of our few snake rescues took place on Castle Peak Road in Siu Lam. A python was reported trapped on the top of a roadside sound-reduction barrier 24 feet above the road. The Fire Services Department had spent five hours trying to free the animal but despite many attempts to do so they had been unsuccessful.

    When an SPCA team arrived, it tried various ways of freeing the snake but also failed. A technician from the Highways Department was summoned to attempt to dismantle the barrier but was unable to do this. Not wanting to give up, but anxious that it would soon get dark and no work could be done at night, the SPCA team kept trying to remove pieces of the barrier close to the snake. They managed to remove the last panel at around 5.30 pm and freed the snake. An SPCA vet arrived shortly after and having examined the animal declared it to be healthy. The python was then taken by the AFCD to its management centre at Sheung Shui.



    Mature cattle can weigh more than one ton, so the logistics of cattle rescues can be quite challenging. Many of the cases we handle are of minor injuries, but a fair number are of cattle falling into Hong Kong’s numerous, often deep, water-catchment channels.

    In one instance in Tai Long Wan Tsuen on Lantau, we received a call about an adult cow seen wandering in such a channel. The access road to the area was too narrow to allow in a vehicle with a hydraulic lift, and the only viable solution seemed to be to build a slope from planks found nearby so that the cow could climb out on its own. A team of more than eight inspectors got to work. After making sure that the planks were sufficient to support the weight of the cow, they coaxed the animal up to freedom with a combination of bananas and much team-tugging. It had been a two-day operation and its final success was met with relief and satisfaction.

    In a less stressful cattle-rescue case, the 24-hour hotline was called about a cow seen in Sha Kok Mei Village in Sai Kung with a discarded metal frame around its neck. Our inspectors arrived and found the animal looking somewhat forlorn. A quick flick with a hook freed the cow from its unwanted accessory.



    From barking deer, bats and flying squirrels to civet cats, wild boar and even porcupines, we have assisted most of the common wildlife mammals found in Hong Kong. Many of these animals were disoriented or injured. In some cases, they were illegally imported.

    One morning we received a call from the police requesting help with a collection of animals which had been dumped at the entrance to Ocean Park. It was suspected that they were illegal imports but had outstayed their welcome and were now being abandoned. When the SPCA team arrived, it found three marmosets and four slow lorises, both endangered species and far from their natural habitats. They were taken to an SPCA hospital for examination before being sent to the AFCD and KFBG for further care.


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  • Pethics                                                                                  8 – 9

    Pethics      By James Yeates

    In recent years, the world has seen a massive increase in the amount of research and laws on how we treat animals. “Animal ethics” has become a significant element of “bioethics”. Animal law is now taught in many countries’ universities. Many countries have a wide range of laws, such as the UK laws that mean owners have duties to ensure their animals’ needs are met.

    At the same time, the last few centuries have seen, in many countries, a regrowth in the keeping of animals as companions, which the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals defines as ‘any animal kept or intended to be kept by man, in particular in his household, for private enjoyment and companionship’. Dogs and cats are becoming popular, as are many more unusual pet species or genetically modified types of animals like fish. Horses have stopped being animals for transport, labour and war, and started being companions for leisure and pleasure. Estimates vary, but there are presently, many millions of companion animals spread across most, if not all, countries (especially those in which bioethics is obviously developed). In the UK, one recent report has suggested that there were 10.5 million pet dogs in the UK in 2006 (Murray et al., 2010). We can compare this to the 5,604 dogs that were used in licensed scientific procedures in the same year (Home Office 2007).

    Are pets special? Pets are dependent upon us, but so are other animals when we prevent them from fulfilling their own need. But perhaps pets are especially dependent on us because their dependency includes not a dependency for food and basic vital provisions, but also an emotional dependency, borne partly from our need to be needed, to nurture and to love. To a very real extent, we are dependent on their dependency on us. Pet animals are also an especially important part of our lives. We live in spatial proximity to wild animals, and we may have a biological intimacy with animals we eat. But for many people, strongest human-animal bonds are with those animals that we keep as companions. Our human-pet relationships is not simply one of enjoyment, insofar as we instrumentally benefit from many animals through looking at them, eating them or their produce, wearing them or using medicines derived from them. This is reflected by consumer decisions: people pay to acquire, maintain and assist pets. The average owner spend about $10,000 per dog or cat and the total industry is worth about $40 billion per year in the USA alone. Indeed in some cases we do not even think of pets as animals, but as part of our families.


    Pets are commonly “stressed, lonely, overweight, bored, aggressive and misunderstood … but loved.”

    If we love pets and treat them as family members, perhaps we should expect that we treat pet animals better than other animals. But there are significant issues in pet animal ethics. We genetically modify species such as fish. Pedigree dogs have major health and welfare issues. Horses are kept alone in stables. Exotic animals are captured illegally, transported in conditions with very high mortality, and sold to people without the ability to care for them. A survey by the UK veterinary charity, the People’s Dispensary for Small Animals (PDSA), identified a range of shortcomings in how owners cared for dogs, cats and rabbits: prompting their strapline that pets are commonly “stressed, lonely, overweight, bored, aggressive and misunderstood ... but loved.” Love is not enough. 

    Perhaps it would mean pet animals have stronger laws. But again, this is not true. In many countries, the first laws concern laboratory animals, and then animals on farms, in zoos etc. Pets tend to be thought of only later, or only as general laws about all animals (or about laws on dog control, which really are to protect people). Perhaps this is because they are kept privately in people’s homes. Perhaps it is because we expect we care better for them, but this is not strongly founded.

    It can be useful to consider what animal you would sooner be? A battery hen or a pet guinea pig in a tiny hutch? Unable to walk due to hip disease as a broiler or as an Alsatian. A rabbit in a farm, a laboratory or a home? I am not sure I can decide, but I leave it to you.  Anyway, perhaps the question of which animals need more protection is less important than the question whether all animals need some protection – the answer to which is definitely yes.

    James holds a PhD in veterinary ethics.  He is Head of the Companion Animals Department at the RSPCA and chairs the BVA Ethics and Welfare Group.


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  • Going HOME                                                                        10

    Going HOME

    SPCA thanks Kadoorie Farm and Bothanic Gardens for giving the Pig-nosed Turtles a second chance!  After spending 8 months under veterinary care at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), 609 Pig-nosed Turtles (Carettochelys insculpta) were returned to their native habitat and successfully released into the Maro River in Indonesian Papua, on 7th October 2011.



    The repatriated turtles were part of a consignment of 785 individuals, that were smuggled into Hong Kong and were confiscated by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) on 12th January, 2011. The turtles were believed to have been caught from the wild in Indonesia, and the shipping documents also suggested this origin.  

    The turtles were transferred to the Wild Animal Rescue Centre at KFBG for care and temporary holding. The hatchlings were only 10 cm long when they arrived (adult turtles can grow up to about 50 cm body length and weigh 30 kg). Many were underweight, considering the poor conditions in which they were shipped. Fortunately, 609 Pig-nosed Turtles were able to survive and were eventually set free in Indonesian Papua.

    In Hong Kong, it is fairly easy to find young Pig-nosed Turtles for sale in the pet shops in Mong Kok. They are popular pets due to their attractive appearance and behaviour – a pig-like nose, and flipper-like limbs which resemble a marine turtle. Pet shop owners are required by law to obtain a licence to sell these turtles. Due to the growing demand for such turtles as pets, they are being collected from the wild, and, earning high profits for the traders.



    In the hope of securing a future for the Pig-nosed Turtle, a decision was made to return the surviving turtles to their natural range in Indonesian Papua. With assistance from the staff of International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and, the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia, a location upstream of Merauke, Indonesian Papua, was identified as suitable for the release. On 5th October, 2011, the little survivors left KFBG and were loaded onto a plane to start their long journey from Hong Kong to Indonesian Papua.



    The release took place two days later, on 7th October, 2011, and involved full participation by the local villagers from the nearby village of Bupul, which is on the border of Papua New Guinea.



    The whole repatriation operation has been considered a success in many ways and not least through the partnerships and collaborations that have developed between the Hong Kong and Indonesian Governments, Conservation NGOs, commercial airlines and the village of Bupul, all with a joint desire to correct some of the damage which over-exploitation of our natural resources has caused and to see a once common turtle species return to this stretch of the Maro river.



    We would like to thank everyone that helped to make this repatriation project possible, in particular the International Animal Rescue (Indonesia), HKSAR Government’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the KKH (Konservasi Keanekaragaman Hayati) and BKSDA (Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam) of the Indonesian Government, Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia, Cathay Pacific Airways and, last but not least, the villagers of Bupul.

    SPCA gratefully acknowledges permission granted by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens to reproduce this article in Pawprint.   

    Article and photographs copyright of KFBG.


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  • Deserving our Respect: Hong Kong’s Horseshoe Crabs     11

    Deserving our respect: Hong Kong’s Horseshoe Crabs

    Horseshoe crabs have been in existence for 475 million years and in this time they have survived five mass extinctions, making them one of the most resilient animals alive today. There are currently four living species in the world, two of which are found in Hong Kong, the large Chinese horseshoe crab and its smaller cousin, the mangrove horseshoe crab.

    Fifty years ago, horseshoe crabs were abundant in Hong Kong. Since then their populations have collapsed because their spawning habitats have been reclaimed, their adult populations have been decimated through overfishing and their juveniles have suffered from the appalling effects of pollution. From populations numbering in the thousands, horseshoe crabs in Hong Kong are now on the verge of extinction.

    Unfortunately, the first introduction many people have to horseshoe crabs in Hong Kong is either in the fish tanks of seafood restaurants or, worse still, on the pavements of Sai Kung, where they are unceremoniously paraded for tourists to take photographs.

    Contrary to popular belief, not all horseshoe crabs on display in fish tanks are for consumption. A one-year survey of fish sellers and seafood restaurants in 2004 to 2005 suggested that of the 1,000 horseshoe crabs sold to the seafood industry in Hong Kong in this period, 300 were discarded due to poor condition, four 400 were sold for religious “set-free” rituals, while the remainder were retained for consumption or display purposes. It should be noted that most of the horseshoe crabs on display in Hong Kong are Chinese horseshoe crabs, because mangrove horseshoe crabs are not suitable for consumption as they contain a powerful poison, which if ingested can lead to death.

    Luckily all is not lost. At the end of 2012 a trawling ban will come into effect in Hong Kong, which means the sea beds of Hong Kong will be able to recuperate and once again become safe foraging grounds for adult horseshoe crabs. City University of Hong Kong in cooperation with Ocean Park are currently running a juvenile breed and release programme to repopulate local waters with horseshoe crabs, and in the longer term a submission will be made to the government to make horseshoe crabs protected species.


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  • Shark Facts? Draw your own conclusion                             12 – 13

    Shark Facts?  Draw Your Own Conclusion

    The SPCA is pleased to see positive steps towards the end of shark fin consumption. Recently the Sharkfin and Marine Products Association (SMPA) ran advertisements in the Chinese press, arguing their views on shark fin consumption. In response, the Bloom Association, a conservation organization, addressed the issues raised.

    To facilitate a balanced, rational debate for our readers to draw their own conclusions, we lay down both sets of viewpoints about shark fins:

    The Case For

    From the Sharkfin and Marine Products Association (SMPA) - (translation)

    Is it wrong to eat shark fin?

    1. Shark fin is a by-product of the demand for shark meat. Shark meat provides an income for fishermen. Shark finning rarely happens. Even with a ban on the shark fin trade, sharks will still be caught because of the global demand for shark meat. A ban on the shark fin trade doesn’t help conserve shark species.
    2. Only four shark species are listed as endangered according to CITES and are protected. The SMPA does not understand why NGOs override the power of CITES to discourage the consumption of shark fin. This action will simply result in the wastage of fins of sharks caught for their meat.
    3. Ecological conservation should be based on scientific data. We object to emotional/sentimental action being taken for conservation purposes. We are upset that some organisations produce photographs and videos to mislead the public without scientific basis, and use celebrities to support anti-shark fin campaigns.
    4. As a fishery product trade organization, we are very concerned about sustainability of marine resources and we contribute to marine conservation. The shark fin trade is legal, and we use shark fin resources for long-term sustainability. We are unhappy at being targeted as carrying out an offence; the shark fin trade obeys the laws of the sea and is sustainable.
    5. We welcome comments and are willing to answer media questions.



    Bloom Association’s response to SMPA’s four points

    Shark fins are worth considerably more than shark meat and, depending on the species, can easily sell at prices 20 times higher; hence the motivation to fin at sea, discarding the body. Finning at sea is very much in evidence. As an example, in October 2011 Columbian authorities reported a shark massacre in the Malpelo Wildlife Sanctuary in Columbia’s Pacific waters, involving as many as 2,000 hammerhead, Galapagos and silky sharks. The discovery of the finless carcasses point only to finning at sea and this is by no means an isolated incident.

    A boat packed full of fins has greater commercial value than a boat packed with space-consuming carcasses, and this serves as the motivation to fin at sea, whether legal or not.

    Despite its illegality in some jurisdictions, the desire for shark fins is a key driver in declining shark populations. Shark is not a high-value fish and its meat is not highly sought after without the added value of the fins. Shark meat has been shown to concentrate high levels of methyl mercury and features an ammonia taste (unless thoroughly washed) as a result of the breakdown of urea in the blood and tissues upon death. Both reduce shark’s desirability as a seafood. 

    While it seems contradictory to ban fins but not flesh, by restricting the shark fin trade, significantly fewer sharks will be caught overall since the economic incentive to fish them will be reduced. Our oceans should then be allowed time to recover. In reality, however, some scientists indicate that even landing shark carcasses to reduce numbers caught is unlikely to be sufficient to save some species.

    An outright ban on fishing the most threatened species is the favoured option, although this is impossible for political and socioeconomic reasons. Given the failure of CITES (see below), addressing the shark fin trade is currently one of the best ways to conserve shark populations.

    Marine conservation NGOs have no intention of attempting to override the power of CITES but merely want the public to understand that CITES is currently not effective in protecting sharks species globally and should not be used as justification to fish endangered species. CITES was drafted in 1963 at an IUCN (International Union for Conservation Nature) meeting and entered into force in 1975 as an international agreement. Today, it has 175 signatories. It aims to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, and to achieve this places trade restrictions on species at risk. The Convention is, therefore, undoubtedly an important wildlife conservation agreement. 

    Yet CITES only includes three species of shark, despite the IUCN indicating 143 species are threatened with extinction, either now or in the near future.  

    The reason for this is that for a species to be bought under CITES trade restrictions, the signatories must vote. In 2010, for example, six shark species were proposed for inclusion in CITES. Countries with vested interests in the shark trade, such as Japan, bargained with fellow signatories to ensure that highly lucrative species, albeit critically endangered, were not included in the Convention’s regulatory appendices. Science and sustainability, the cornerstone of conservation, clearly gave way to commercial interests. For sharks at least, CITES is failing.

    In Hong Kong, CITES remains the only mechanism for regulating the shark fin trade and to make matters worse its implementation is unclear. The Agricultural, Fishery and Conservation Department (AFCD) of the Hong Kong government is responsible for monitoring the trade in shark fin. Currently, it relies on visual identification, but it is extremely difficult to determine the shark species from a fin without the carcass, and even more difficult if the fin has been bleached or processed. It is understood that the AFCD does not carry out DNA analysis.

    Thus, CITES clearly is not an effective mechanism to monitor the shark fin trade in Hong Kong, which accounts for around 50% of the global trade.

    Scientific research based on DNA testing shows that in 2006 approximately 40% of the auctioned fin weight in the Hong Kong market came from 14 shark species listed on the IUCN Redlist of Threatened species.

    Peer-reviewed scientific research has clearly shown that the fins of up to 73 million sharks are harvested annually and that official estimates of shark catches are likely underestimated by three- to four-fold. This is not sustainable given the slow growing nature and low fecundity of many shark species.

    Regionally, populations of some species have plummeted by more than 90%. The issue is one of biological limits; populations are simply not able to recover from such intense fishing. As a matter of ecosystem dynamics, sharks are apex predators and are of fundamental importance to maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem on which we depend for healthy oceans.

    While the SMPA acknowledges the importance of scientific research and data, there appears to be no academic research or scientific papers proving that the current shark fin trade or shark resources are being used sustainably.

    On the issue of marine resources sustainability and of the SMPA’s contribution to marine conservation, the NGOs would welcome details of how the trade achieves this and actions taken.  

    The shark-fin industry, which is concentrated in a few Asian trading centres, is notoriously secretive and wary of attempts to investigate or regulate its practices, and is generally reluctant to enter into dialogue with, or make information available to interested stakeholders. This makes it almost impossible for researchers to work with the traders and identify possible solutions.

    As the shark fin trade is not sustainable, eventually there will be no fins to trade if business carries on as usual.

    The tragedy is that as sharks become increasingly scarce, the value of fins will rise. This will ensure large profits for a few beneficiaries in the short term.  


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  • SPCA Supporters Help Bangkok’s Animal Flood Victims    14 – 15

    SPCA Supporters Help Bangkok’s Animal Flood Victims

    Bangkok was ravished by a once-in-a-lifetime flood in November 2011. Responding to an urgent appeal from SCAD (Soi Cats and Dogs) Bangkok, a local animal welfare organisation, SPCA vet Dr. Karthi Krishnasamy arrived on the scene with cash donations and also volunteered her expertise in field veterinary care.

    With land provided by a printing company, SCAD established a temporary shelter to rescue stray and lost dogs from the flood. Together with their partners, Elephant Nature Park and Kinship Group, the shelter went into operation very quickly. There was not much veterinary equipment available and much improvising had to be done to get thing moving. As Dr. Karthi was experienced in working in backwoods conditions, one of her immediate roles was to help induct a volunteer vet from the UK in field diagnostics.

    There were outbreaks of parvovirus and distemper due to the high number of rescued bitches with newborns and puppies. An isolation facility was set up to stop the disease spreading to other animals. At the same time, many of the rescued strays were infected with the highly transmissible canine venereal tumour (TVT). Dr. Karthi conducted a field course on disease diagnosis and treatment for the staff and the volunteer vet.

    In the meantime, tailor-made cages for the shelter donated by SPCA (HK) arrived, and Dr. Karthi was on hand to quickly set them up. They were immediately used for housing a newly rescued bitch with many newborns, and other animals. She also helped set up the surgery area and organised the storage of donated medicine, consumables and equipment.

    There was a continuous stream of rescued animals arriving late into the evenings, keeping staff on their feet for long hours. Even trucks used for elephant rescue were seconded into transporting boats to flood areas. Yet, spirits were high, and everyone at SCAD was very grateful for the generous donation made by Hong Kong’s people via the SPCA. 


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  • Mathematical Pigeons are amazing, but no so surprising    16

    Mathematical Pigeons Are Amazing But Not So Surprising
    by Marc Bekoff

    Pigeons can learn abstract rules about numbers. 

    Ample scientific evidence exists that show that birds are extremely smart and crafty. Some are able to make and use sophisticated tools in ways that chimpanzees can’t while others can remember the location of far more caches of food than humans for a long period of time. 

    Now we’ve just learned that pigeons, after a year of intense training, “can learn abstract rules about numbers, an ability that until now had been demonstrated only in primates.” They “learned to rank groups of one, two and three items in various sizes and shapes. When tested, they were able to do the task even when unfamiliar numbers of things were introduced. In other words, having learned that two was more than one and three more than two, they could also figure out that five was more than two, or eight more than six.”

    One of the researchers was surprised by these findings but to me (and I expect to others) they’re not all that unexpected given what we know about what’s called anti-predatory vigilance or sentinel behavior. In many different species of birds individuals change their patterns of scanning for predators (their head is up and they’re looking around to see who’s there) and feeding (their head is down and they’re feeding on seeds or other food) depending on group size. A general finding is that the larger the group, up until about 7-8 individuals, the less time an individual spends scanning for predators and the more time he or she spends feeding. It’s assumed that individuals can’t scan and feed at the same time and this seems to hold true for many different species. These data, the inverse relationship between group size and time spent looking around for danger, clearly show that birds are able to assess the number of individuals in their group and alter their behavior accordingly. So too do mammals. 

    Group size is but one variable that influences scanning and feeding. The geometry of a group is also very important. In our study of vigilance in Western evening grosbeaks we discovered not only do birds change their behavior depending on group size but they’re also sensitive to the geometry of the group of which they’re a part. Individuals organized in a circular array in which they can see all other individuals behave very different from individuals organized in a line in which they can only see their nearest neighbor(s), a maximum of two individuals.

    Our results based on detailed video analyses are summarized as follows: “Vigilance (scanning) and other behavior patterns were studied in free-ranging Evening Grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) at feeders to assess how flock size and flock geometry influenced the behavior of individual birds. The present results indicate that the way in which individual grosbeaks are positioned with respect to one another effects many aspects of their behavior, especially when a flock contains four or more birds. Birds in a linear array who have difficulty seeing one another, when compared to individuals organized in a circle who can easily see one another, are (1) more vigilant, (2) change their head and body positions more often, (3) react to changes in group size more slowly, (4) show less coordination in head movements, and (5) show more variability in all measures.

    These differences in behavior ... suggest that individual grosbeaks, when scanning and moving about, are visually monitoring the flock in which they are feeding and gathering information about a number of variables including flock size, what others are doing, where others are, which individuals are present, phenotypic features of flock members, food resources, or the location of potential predators. Individuals likely use visual records of the behavior and perhaps the phenotypic features of others, and this information influences various aspects of their behavior.”

    While these highly trained captive pigeons are demonstrating sophisticated numerical competency, these data only add to what we already know from field work on other species of birds. Specifically, there aren’t fixed patterns of scanning and feeding. Rather, birds show flexibility in patterns of scanning and feeding that are influenced by both group size and group geometry. This is not to mean that the results of the research on pigeons aren’t important. They are, but they’re not all that surprising after all.

    Clearly, calling someone a birdbrain is a compliment. Bird brains are very active and their cognitive abilities rather remarkable and highly evolved.

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


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  • Bear Bile: Unparalleled Cruelty                                             17

    Wave of opposition to bear farming in China
    Chinese people show they care about animal welfare and want the cruelty to end.

    The last few weeks have seen massive countrywide condemnation of the practice of bear farming in China, with the issue saturating the news and putting the bear bile farming industry on the defensive.

    Animals Asia operates bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam, and has rescued over 380 bears from the bile industry. We’re working to end bear farming, which sees anything up to 20,000 bears kept in cages on farms throughout Asia. Many have permanent infected holes cut into their abdomens to allow the farmers to milk them for their bile. Others are implanted with catheters or jabbed with syringes to extract the bile.

    This has been an incredibly exciting time with surveys on popular websites showing 88.9 per cent public opposition to the industry and Chinese micro-blogs also giving mass support for an end to bear farming.

    The Ta Foundation, a local animal welfare organisation founded by a group of influential media figures, has made an appeal signed by 72 prominent people, including well-known lawyers, TV hosts, actors and animal rights advocates. The signatories included the famous Chinese snooker player, Ding Junhui, the well-known painter, Chen Danqing, and a TV presenter, Cui Yongyuan.

    Asia celebrity Karen Mok Man Wai has been to our sanctuary many times and has even adopted her own bear, beautiful Bao Be. As a caring and passionate ambassador for the bears, Karen appeals for every bear, like Bao Be, to be free.

    Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming also visited our sanctuary just a few weeks ago. After enjoying the sight of over 150 free bears playing in the grassy enclosures, before witnessing the graves of those that had died, Yao Ming left us with the following statement in support of ending bear farming:

    “Moon bears are beautiful animals in nature; let’s love and care for moon bears together. Support Animals Asia and help the moon bears. I am against bear farming and want it to end”

    The issue of synthetic alternatives to bear bile has also had much press coverage. Hundreds of clinical trials have shown that there is no clear difference between artificial bear bile and natural bile, yet synthetic bile has not been approved.

    A group of three independent film-makers have released shocking undercover footage of the bear farming industry online. The footage was shot between 2009 and 2010 and reveals “legal” bear farms with conditions that are unconscionably cruel for the bears, and clearly breaking current regulations. This film had received 1.274 million views within a week of its release.

    Animals Asia has released scientific proof of the suffering caused by the free drip method of bile extraction. Of the bears studied, 163 (99%) had cholecystitis, 109 (66%) had gall bladder polyps, 56 (34%) had abdominal herniation, 46 (28%) had internal abscessation, 36 (22%) had gallstones, and 7 had peritonitis. Many of the bears had multiple combinations of these conditions.

    We believe the time is right for the development of a timetable for bear farming to be phased out within the next 3 to 5 years, and for the alternatives to bear bile to be encouraged and supported. The public opposition to bear farming is now so great that we’re hopeful that we’re closer to meeting this goal than ever before.

    We have appealed to our supporters to be patient and have faith in the groundswell of opposition to bear farming within China. The practice of bear farming will end only by change coming from within China, not because of pressure from overseas.

    It’s heartening to see so many people in China coming out against this awful industry and there is growing hope that the bear farming industry may soon come to an end.


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  • Vet’s Case Book                                                                    18

    Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)

    A New Technique for a Common Problem: Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture

    What and where is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL)?

    The cruciate ligaments are located in the centre of the stifle (knee) and prevent caudal (backwards) and rotational movement of the femur (thigh bone) relative to the tibia (shin bone). *See diagram A.


    Case Report

    Lucy, a four-year-old Labrador was presented with history of lameness of one year’s duration. She had undergone earlier surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament, which had unfortunately not been successful. In her case it was decided  a TTA would be the surgery which would give the best chance of a positive outcome.


    What is a TTA?

    TTA is a technique which has been developed over the last 10 years, and is becoming popular for the treatment of CCL rupture, particularly in dogs. 

    It has been suggested that in most dogs, the top of the tibia known as the “Tibial Plateau” is angled slightly backwards; this means that the femur tries to slide backwards when the dog stands on its hind leg, and is restrained by the CCL (*see diagram B). This puts repeated stress on the ligament, and is a major factor in causing the ligament to rupture (see arrows for directions of stress).

    Traditional surgeries have aimed to rebuild or replace the ruptured ligament. However, we now know that because the mechanical problem described above is still present, replacement ligaments will almost always break or stretch as time goes on, and that arthritis will continue to develop.

    TTA does NOT try to rebuild or replace the ligament. Instead, it aims to change the angle of the stifle, so that when the dog puts weight on the leg, the CCL is no longer needed to stabilise the joint. This is done by cutting the bone at the front of the tibia (tibial tuberosity) and “advancing” it (*see diagram C). 

    The tibial tuberosity is spaced away from the main part of the tibia using a titanium cage, which is filled with a bone graft from another part of the knee to encourage healing. A special bone plate and screws are used to anchor it in the correct position (*see diagram D).

    Uniquely, this technique also allows for simultaneous treatment of patella luxation (loose knee caps) by moving the tibial tuberosity to the side as well as forwards.

    * Please refer to the pdf version.


    Post Surgery Report

    Lucy recovered well. Within a week of surgery she was already using the leg better than before the operation and by two weeks she had returned to normal weight bearing!


    Where can this surgery be performed?

    The SPCA is one of the few clinics in Hong Kong currently offering this state-of-the-art surgery. If your dog is unlucky enough to rupture its cruciate ligament, please ask your veterinary surgeon for advice regarding this procedure or call Dr. Alasdair Frost (Senior Surgeon) at the SPCA, Hong Kong Hospital on 28020501 alternatively email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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  • Vet Profile                                                                              19 

    Dr. Joanna Lee
    Title: Veterinary Surgeon
    Nationality: British

    Academic qualifications:

    Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetMed), Royal Veterinary College, University of London

    Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS), UK.

    Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CertVetAcu), Chi Institute, USA


    Career path:

    Whilst studying I spent time observing practice in London at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and the Blue Cross (all large animal-welfare hospitals). Shortly after qualifying, I worked in a busy small-animal hospital in Kent, UK for two years. During that time I spent a year studying part-time an intensive acupuncture course and gained my certificate as a veterinary acupuncturist. I have also published articles on acupuncture and endocrine diseases. Before joining the SPCA, I worked in a small-animal clinic in Hong Kong as a sole charge practitioner for one year. Currently, I am working towards Membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (Surgery Chapter) and Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, UK). arious clinics for a few months prior to starting at the SPCA.


    Veterinary interests:

    Surgery (soft tissue and orthopaedics), acupuncture, emergency and critical care medicine


    Reasons for working at the SPCA(HK):

    At the SPCA no two days are ever the same, which definitely makes for an interesting time. I feel privileged to be part of a large, caring, professional team. I love the mix of welfare and client-based medicine, having been strongly attracted to animal welfare since a very young age. I particularly enjoy the busy caseload and the work environment the SPCA offers. 


    Presently, I do not have a pet. I am planning to adopt a dog and be involved in the SPCA’s cat foster programme.



    Any kind of water-sports, lacrosse, skiing, piano/flute playing and travelling


    Most unforgettable experience:

    I had only been working at the SPCA for a short time when a kind-hearted member of the public brought in two stray kittens which had been found on the street. At three weeks old, they were too young to be homed and barely able to stand up. They looked at me with their bright, blue eyes and my heart melted; I decided to foster them until they were old enough to be homed.

    Hand rearing kittens is never easy, bringing up twins is even harder. I was very grateful that my parents helped out while I was at work. The kittens had to be fed and be encouraged to urinate and defaecate; afterwards they would snuggle up on my shoulders and fall asleep. I was lucky they were feeding by themselves and toilet trained after the first week. It was rewarding to see them grow and develop into mischievous, independent kittens with very different personalities. In time they were old enough to be adopted and it was truly heart breaking letting them go. I can honestly say fostering is one of the most amazing and fulfilling roles I have ever done!


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  • Top Tips                                                                                19

    TOP TIPS: Caring for Your Dog, the DOs and DON’Ts




    Feed a well-balanced commercial diet, specific for its age and breed. A well-balanced diet contains everything your dog needs. If in doubt ask your veterinary surgeon.

    Give low-calorie treats as snacks to reward good behaviour. Food treats can be broken up into small pieces during training sessions.



    Allow your dog to beg for food; feed them after you have finished eating.

    Give any extra supplements unless advised by your veterinary surgeon, particularly calcium.

    Give your dog acetaminophen (“Panadol”), alcohol, aspirin, caffeine, chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, onions, garlic or chives. They are all toxic!




    Allow your dog to sleep in a dedicated area, ideally provide them with  their own bed.



    Let them sleep on the sofa or in your bed. Some dogs believe their status is raised by raising their heights!




    Take your dog for regular walks, which are important for  their mental and physical well-being.

    Allow your dog to meet and mix with other friendly dogs (and humans!). It is particularly important for puppies to socialise with other dogs from a young age.



    Keep your dog confined indoors for long periods; as just like troublesome teenagers, to relieve their boredom dogs can develop behavioural problems!





    Use positive reinforcement training methods using rewards which can be in the form of food treats, praises, toys or cuddles.



    Get angry or shout at your dog for bad behaviour. Your dog might simply see this as a way to get your attention. Best policy is to ignore your dog!


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  • Vet Facts: Chronic kidney disease                                        20


    As our pets live longer they can become affected by age-related illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, heart and liver disease. But by far the biggest killer is kidney disease.



    • Kidneys are a continuous filtration system cleaning the blood of excess toxins, salts and water.
    • This waste removal occurs within units called nephrons.
    • These filters allow protein and cells to remain in the blood, while waste products pass into the urine.
    • Nephrons also have associated cells that produce a number of essential compounds such as erythropoietin (control of red blood cells), angiotensin
      (blood pressure) and calcitriol (vitamin D and calcium balance).



    • Early signs include increased drinking and urine production, which can be easy to miss. Watch out for your dog “asking” to go out to urinate more often, or are you filling your cat’s water bowl more frequently?
    • Weight loss, reduced appetite and lethargy can develop as the disease progresses.
    • Advanced cases can show complete in appetance, vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, weakness, high blood pressure, weak bones and a reduction in water intake (leading to dehydration). These signs are due to a build-up of toxic enzymes (urea and creatinine) in the blood causing what veterinary surgeons call azotaemia and an imbalance in the essential compounds mentioned above.



    • Through clinical examination and history.
    • To help classify and stage kidney disease a numbers of tests should be performed.
    • Urine is tested for concentration and protein levels, cultured for infections and sediment examined under the microscope for white blood and kidney cells.
    • Blood tests including urea, creatinine, phosphate levels and red blood count (anaemia).
    • Blood pressure as chronic kidney disease is a common cause of high blood pressure (hypertension).
    • Additional diagnostics include x-rays and ultrasonography, which can help identify kidney stones, tumours or cysts.
    • Histopathology: some cases may require tissue sampling for a more specific diagnosis, e.g. cancer.



    • Chronic renal failure is a progressive disease.
    • Despite this your veterinary surgeon can provide a wide variety of medications and treatments that may help extend and improve your pet’s life.
    • Diet: Getting your pet to eat a prescription kidney diet (e.g. Royal Canin Renal Support or Hill’s K/D) has been proven to extend the life of the animal.
    • Medications to lower blood pressure.
    • Hormonal injections to improve anaemia.
    • Potassium supplementation.
    • Phosphate binders to reduce intake.
    • In more advanced cases regular subcutaneous fluids or hospitalisation and intravenous fluids.



    • An increasing number of treatments are available to artificially support kidney function such as: Renal dialysis, Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) and Peritoneal dialysis.
    • These are expensive and labour-intensive processes and in all of the above it is essential to weigh the stress of treatment with the benefits to quality of life for the animal on welfare grounds.


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  • The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming                                  21

    The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming

    It was disappointing this year to see so much fur being worn in Hong Kong over the winter months and to see an increase in designers including fur items in their collections. The fur industry has been marketing themselves well. In the last few months an argument which SPCA has heard cropping up time and time again is that fur is somehow justified if it’s from animals that have been farmed or ‘cultivaed’ for fur. It is apparent that many people are completely unaware of the issues involved in fur farming and assume it poses no special welfare problems. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Fur farming keeps what are naturally wild animals in small barren cages. There is no appropriate shelter and conditions and the animal is prevented from displaying its normal patterns of behaviour. 

    There are many ways to approach animal cruelty, especially when tackling the horrific practice of fur farming. Animal welfare science can clearly demonstrate that suffering occurs in the fur farming industry and it is not logical to assume otherwise. While many arguments stem from the visceral revelations and exposition of the nature of cruelty; which are effective for the most part; the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey’s 2002 report, The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming, is a compelling approach. Linzey’s report is a robust statement compiling input from an international group of academics which includes ethicists, philosophers and theologians. The arguments are refreshing, credible and above all else – logical and ethical.

    With tens of millions of animals killed every year for the fur trade, it seems the abolishment of fur farming is a tough task. However, when it comes to animal activism, Linzey’s report and arguments are powerful enough to bear repeating, over and over. He is truly a pioneer in his work on animal welfare.

    The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming can be summarized into a number of logical and ethical statements. To begin, Linzey looks at the nature of our society, one which actively discourages cruelty in its many forms as is most beneficial to humanity. Animals have a special hold on our morality as they are, as Linzey describes, ‘morally innocent – unable to give or withhold their consent or vocalize their needs leaving them wholly vulnerable to human exploitation.’ This does not make it any easier to inflict suffering upon animals, but it does make these actions very difficult to justify. Indeed, many of our laws revolve around protecting the vulnerable which includes animals and of course, children. This is all the more significant when examining the link between abuse of animals and other forms of abuse. This is all the more concerning when the evidence shows a notable link to the abuse of women and children. This evidence proves that if abuse to animals is unchecked, it creates a less morally safe world for people.

    Here begins the debate for fur farming. It is unreasonable to assume that exposing animals to unnatural conditions and constant suffering away from their habitual behaviours is not cruel, as those who already abhor animal cruelty are bound to agree. However, even those who hold the ‘infliction’ that suffering can sometimes be justified, cannot see fur farming as an acceptable practice. Primarily as it fails a basic test of moral necessity – human beings don’t need fur coats and fashion accessories, they are purely luxury items. It is not a basic right of man to adorn. 

    Another argument Linzey deconstructs is one held that somehow as the superior sentient being, humans have a ‘right’ to fur farming. Quite rightly, Linzey dispels this as nowhere is there cited a civil right to be cruel. Similarly, it is sometimes argued that fur farming is justifiable in a religious standing as animals can be used for human benefit. As Linzey illustrates – this is unreasonable and misguided as nowhere in Judaism, Christianity or Islam has there been claim that the use of animals should be without moral constraint – in fact it would be hard to find a religion in which the intentional infliction of cruelty and suffering upon animals would be encouraged.

    Linzey concludes aptly and logically, ‘In a democratic society, the law should properly reflect our changed perception of animals and, specifically, the public’s long-standing opposition to fur farming.’ My only hope is that the people of Hong Kong who still feel the need to wear fur products, to take note of such compelling arguments and begin to reject fur products, finally ending the long-suffering of innocent animals.


    Taken from Andrew Linzey’s ‘The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming’ 2002.


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  • SPCA Case Files                                                                   22 – 23

    In the three months from September to November 2011, the Inspectorate received a total of 10,287 calls and handled 1,494 animals. SPCA inspectors rescued 410 animals, investigated 246 complaints, and conducted inspections of 94 pet shops and 229 wet markets.


    September (Rescued)

    The owner of a handsome black-and-white cat called the SPCA hotline for help in rescuing it from the top of an air conditioner outside a public housing estate flat in Tung Chung where it had become stuck. After considerable effort, SPCA inspectors were able to reach the animal and return it to its grateful owner.


    September (Found)

    Three marmosets (see photo) and four slow lorises were found abandoned outside Ocean Park; they had presumably been dumped there by someone involved in the illegal pet trade. The slow loris is considered an endangered species and has a toxic bite, a rare trait among mammals and one that makes it highly unsuitable as a pet. The poor creatures often have their teeth cut or removed to get round this problem and then die from ensuing infection. The marmoset is a New World monkey and is native to South America. It exhibits some primitive features, such as having claws not nails, relative to other monkeys. In the wild, marmosets live in the upper canopy of forests in cooperative family groups. The rescued marmosets and slow lorises were collected by SPCA inspectors and taken to the AFCD and Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden respectively for care and custody.


    September (Rescued)

    The owner of a cat reported her animal trapped in an enclosed area in a back lane in Sham Shui Po. SPCA inspectors managed to cut their way into the area and rescue the cat, returning it to its owner.


    October (Under investigation)

    Following a period of investigation, SPCA inspectors called the police and raided a suspected dog breeding farm in Yuen Long. They rescued 27 dogs which had been left unattended in a village house. Most of the animals were in poor condition and the environment in which they were kept was dirty and unhygienic. Police are investigating the case with a view to prosecuting the owner under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance.


    October (Under investigation)

    SPCA inspectors assisted the police in the investigation of a suspected cruelty case in San Po Kong concerning four kittens which had been swept from the first-floor ledge of a building to the ground. The kittens were taken to the SPCA hospital for care and custody. Police are also investigating this as a possible “Cruelty to Animals” case.


    October (Arrested)

    A member of the public reported a hawker illegally selling puppies on a Yuen Long street. An SPCA inspector went to investigate and notified the police. The woman hawker was arrested, prosecuted and convicted of both trading animals without a licence and animal cruelty offences, having failed to provide the puppies with water and shelter. She was fined HKD2,500.


    October (Rescued)

    Two kittens found trapped inside the gate of a shop in Tsuen Wan were rescued by SPCA inspectors assisted by firemen, who removed the gate to free them. The kittens were taken to the SPCA hospital for care and custody and to await adoption.


    October (Rescued)

    The owner of a shop in North Point heard meowing coming from a drainage pipe embedded in a concrete wall adjacent to the premises. By digging and enlarging the hole on the side of the pipe, SPCA inspectors managed with some effort to rescue the kitten and return it to its owner.


    October (Rescued)

    Yet another lucky kitten was rescued in October. This one was trapped inside a deep pit nearby tennis courts in Tai Po Tau. It was rescued by SPCA inspectors, taken to the SPCA hospital for custody and care, and was later homed.


    November (Under investigation)

    Two Husky dogs were found left unattended in a village house in Yuen Long in an unhygienic environment and without food or water. SPCA inspectors gathered appropriate evidence and called the police. The owner was arrested. The dogs were taken to the SPCA for care, treatment and custody. Police are investigating this possible “Cruelty to Animals” case with a view to prosecuting the owner.


    November (Prosecuted)

    This dog was rescued and removed by an SPCA inspector from inside a toilet in premises in an industrial building in San Po Kong. The animal was found tied by a very short leash in the small, squalid space and was extremely emaciated. A Chinese male was prosecuted under the Cruelty to Animals Ordinance and fined HKD12,000 for his improper treatment of the animal.


    November (Rescued)

    A dog which had become trapped after falling into a large hole in Ma On Shan was rescued by SPCA inspectors. During its rescue it struggled violently to free itself and disappeared into the countryside. It was uninjured and had no sign of obvious illness.


    November (Rescued)

    Called by the owner of a cat trapped on a ledge outside the 16th floor of a residential building in Tai Hang, SPCA inspectors went to scene and after some difficulty managed to rescue the animal. The cat, which was seemingly only slightly perturbed, was returned to its anxious owner. Cats all too often manage to get themselves stuck on ledges of high rise buildings. This could be avoided if windows were better screened.


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  • Long Distance Rescues                                                         24

    SPCA Inspector Cheuk Tat Kay

    Describes the challenges that can face an inspector in the SPCA (HK)

    Hong Kong’s beautiful country parks are frequented by many visitors. They come to enjoy the fresh air and stunning scenery, and to exercise – some bringing their dogs with them.

    The SPCA hotline (Tel. 2711 1000) often receives calls for help from hikers. Some time back we received such a call. A dog owner was hiking in Pak Sin Leng Country Park with two golden retrievers when the dogs fell from a more than 10-metre-high cliff. SPCA inspectors immediately assembled together with Fire Services personnel to rescue the animals. However, exactly where they were was not clear as they were in a hilly part of the countryside far from any road. Having eventually ascertained their location, the team set off with rescue equipment and walked for over 3 hours to reach them. The two dogs were stranded on a ledge on the cliff. Together with the Fire Services team, we abseiled down the cliff and lifted the dogs off one at a time. Luckily they were uninjured and were able to go straight home with their owner. 

    Not all cases turn out so happily. We earlier received an emergency call from a hiker in Sai Kung. The high heat and humidity of the day proved too much for the dogs he had with him. They both suffered heat stroke and collapsed.

    Unfortunately, by the time the rescuers reached them, it was too late.

    Sadly, The dogs did not survive.

    I wish to remind pet owners that if you are going to hike with your dog to bring sufficient water, and be sure to check the weather forecast before setting out. Dogs cannot perspire as humans can to maintain a normal body temperature and should not be taken for rigorous exercise when it is very hot. 

    Inspector CHEUK TAT KAY joined the SPCA in 1998.


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  • Happenings                                                                            26 – 27

    One Thousand Dogs Strut for Charity

    Under a cool and sunny early-February morning sky, more than a thousand dogs and almost twice as many people completed the 4.5 kilometer Hills x SPCA Family Wag ’n’ Walk at the Disneyland Resort, raising over $700,000 to help animals in need. Walkers enjoyed both unexpected photo opportunities along the scenic route, and food, games and jazz music at the end. We are grateful to all our sponsors, VIPs, volunteers and participants for their generous support of this magical event.


    Pet Guide - iPhone app

    Pet Guide is an app launched by the HK Vet Nurse Association. It provides a wealth of needy information for pet owners, including choices of Vet Clinics, their location, scope of services, veterinary profile; it also provides information on 24-hour Emergency Services which pets may need. Other resources available on this app include Dog Training resources, Pet Grooming and Boarding facilities, as well as Pet News.


    “Saving Minnie” helps save animals

    The SPCA is grateful to the Etile family for donating 100 copies of their self-funded children’s book, Saving Minnie, to the Society for fund-raising purposes.

    We especially thank Mikayla, who as a talented primary two student wrote this book with passion and a determination to help abandoned animals. In her story, she adopts a cat called Minnie from an animal adoption centre and describes the joyful journey her family undertakes with this new family member.

    If you are interested in sharing in Mikayla’s story with your children, please contact the SPCA Education Department on 2232 5541/ 2232 5526. Copies of Saving Minnie cost $15. All proceeds will all go to the SPCA (HK) for animal welfare.


    Venture Photography supports animal welfare with donation

    SPCA is extremely grateful for a generous donation of $50,000 from Venture Photography for animal welfare. Venture Photography donated all its proceeds from the Pet Expo held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and further topped this amount. 

    Mr. Stephen Wadsworth, General Manager of Venture Photography said, “Here at Venture Photography we are delighted to help raise funds and donate to the SPCA to contribute to the animal welfare in Hong Kong.”


    The Link celebrates dog-friendly mall reopening with a donation

    Stanley Plaza became the first dog-friendly mall in Hong Kong, and hosted a weekend carnival on 3rd and 4th December benefiting the SPCA. 

    Ms. Hilda Wong, Head of marketing of The Link Management Limited, said, “Stanley Plaza became the first dog friendly mall in Hong Kong. We had hosted a fun raising weekend carnival to celebrate 90th anniversary of SPCA. What’s more! Stanley Plaza is proud to play host to break the world record for the largest dog obedience class on the planet, smashing the previous record of 318 dogs by over 50!”

    The record attempt is now certified by Guinness World Records. We are grateful to the Link which was the organizer of the very meaningful event, and for helping SPCA raise $100,000 for animal welfare. 


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  • Happy Ending                                                                         28


    (Big) Monty Gets a Second Chance From SPCA to Sand and Surf

    Monty is an 18-month-old chocolate Labrador cross – a cross with something bigger! He is 26 to 27 inches tall at his shoulder. 

    We were having dinner with Sandy Macalister when he mentioned we should take a look at Monty, a dog which had been surrendered for homing. He was an exuberant young animal with a nice nature but quite difficult to home in Hong Kong because of his size alone. Apparently, he had proven to be uncontrollable and after destroying his previous owner’s apartment had been surrendered.

    My wife and I went to see Monty at the SPCA just before the Christmas break. He was a lovely dog, as Sandy had said, and very handsome. However, we were about to leave Hong Kong for three weeks plus and did not feel we could take Monty for a few days and then put him back into kennels. In any event, the SPCA boarding kennels were full. We crossed our fingers that Monty would still be there on our return.

    Over Christmas at our home in Noosa, we couldn’t stop thinking of him and how much he would enjoy the Queensland beach environment. When we got a call from Sandy saying that he was still available, we couldn’t resist and I hurried back to Hong Kong. We had previously adopted a cat and a golden retriever (which was a somewhat larger replacement for one of our sons’ hamsters which had died) from the SPCA. The cat lived to 18 years and the retriever is still going at sixteen and a half. We were over the moon when we were told we could take Monty. 

    I picked Monty up at the beginning of January when I returned to Hong Kong. I was a bit nervous of the description “exuberant”, and Faye at the SPCA had said Monty could be destructive if not exercised properly. He had had a bad training experience so required gentle treatment.

    Monty did not like the taxi ride home and on the first day he peed in the spare bedroom and ripped a big hole in the bath mat. Not the best start!

    I have just retired so I have plenty of time for Monty. I walked him all over Repulse Bay, Deep Water Bay, South Bay and Shouson Hill; and he was great outdoors. Then I started doing the country parks: The Dragon’s Back: Shek O Road down to Big Wave Bay and Shek O Village; Parkview to Tai Tam; Guildford Road to Nam Fung Road; I even took him across to Middle Island on the RHKYC sampan (he left skid marks on the bow). 

    Early on in the country park walks I decided to let him off the lead as there was no one there mid-week at this time of year; he was tagged and had his chip in place if he did run off. I had nothing to fear. In fact, he never went far and always came back.

    Monty has settled down well. He does not destroy the apartment and although he runs off with my slippers, he has learned which toys I will play with him with and which don’t elicit a response.

    Outdoors, he is well socialised with other dogs and people. He is a delight off the lead and I have no concerns at all about walking him in the hills and parks. He is very affectionate and just a delightful dog in need of companionship. As an added bonus I have lost 18kg, thanks to Monty!

    We are heading for Noosa in March, and Monty will come too via New Zealand as the quarantine period is shorter. We have a home on Sunshine Beach and Monty will run the beach with us and no doubt jump in the waves with the other resident canine surfers.


    Thank you, SPCA, for giving him the chance!


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