Issue 85 - 2011/11

Issue 85 - 2011/11


  • Sealing Their Fate     2 – 3
  • Take the cruelty out of Fashion     4 – 5
  • OWL ON THE MENU Wildlife Consumption in China      6 – 7
  • Compassionate Conservation       8 – 9
  • Fish Know When They Are Created       10
  • Be part of the solution, not the problem      11
  • Farm Animal Welfare in Hong Kong       12 – 13
  • Lily, the Remarkable Foster Dog        14 – 15
  • World Animal Day      16
  • Vet Tips      17
  • Vet’s Case Book     18
  • Vet Profile       19
  • Vet Facts       19
  • Parrot fever in the news      20
  • My story - the Red-Eared Slider      21
  • SPCA Case files      22 – 23
  • Team Effort        24 – 25
  • Happenings        26 – 27
  • How Hong Kong’s Generosity Helped       28 – 29

(text only version)

  • Sealing Their Fate                                                                            2 – 3

    The year 2011 has truly been one of extremes for the seals.
    Ending the Seal Hunt. Why Hong Kong Matters

    Most people are unaware that Hong Kong plays a pivotal role in whether the Canadian Fur Seal Hunt will continue.  With the US and recently the European Union, banning seal fur and products from the hunt, on humane grounds, Hong Kong is now the channel for the trade which has turned to China. As hunters contemplate the viability of continuing this annual hunt, it is Hong Kong that can tip the balance and bring an end to this cruel slaughter forever.

    Show that Hong Kong and China are no longer a dumping ground for cruel products, by signing our online petition It’s Hong Kong’s choice to stop the cruelty.

    In March, the Canadian government announced the highest quota for seals in history, allowing sealers to club and shoot to death 400,000 of the defenceless animals. But at the same time, a lack of markets kept seal fur prices at record low levels, and most sealers chose to stay home as a result. About 32,000 seals – less than 10 per cent of the quota – were slaughtered in Canada’s commercial seal hunt this year, the lowest kill level we’ve seen in recent history.

    Despite the smaller number of seals killed, Humane Society International witnessed some of the worst cruelty we have ever seen at the slaughter. Seals – some just a couple of weeks of age – were shot and wounded and left to suffer on the ice. Some escaped beneath the surface of the water and were not recovered, likely condemned to a slow and painful death. Others were clubbed to death. Still more raised their heads and cried out even as they were impaled on metal hooks and dragged across the ice and onto vessels. One baby seal looked up and cried out in agony from a pile of dead carcasses into which he’d been tossed. All of this happened in an area where enforcement authorities could view the killing. It is clear that no matter what the scale of the killing is, it is impossible for the Canadian government to adequately monitor it.

    2011 also saw some of the lowest sea ice formation off Canada’s east coast, resulting in high mortality rates for newborn pups. Harp seals are ice-dependent animals, and they rely on sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups; they need the ice to remain intact for several weeks until the pups are strong enough to survive in open water. As their sea ice habitat disappears, harp seals are facing a grave threat to their long-term survival.

    It has also been a year of progress towards ending this slaughter for good. Weeks ago, a case that had been brought against the EU ban on seal product trade in the European General Court was dismissed; this ensures one of the most important restrictions on seal product trade still stands. Government officials from Beijing to Taipei are considering the possibility of more prohibitions on seal product trade. In the meantime, so many companies throughout Southeast Asia, including in Hong Kong, are choosing to discontinue sales of seal products in response to public opposition to commercial sealing.

    In Canada, a large number of elected officials are now considering the possibility of a sealing industry buyout – a plan in which sealers would be compensated for lost income as the seal hunt is ended, and economic alternatives developed in the communities affected. With polling showing that a significant percentage of sealers already support the idea, there may be hope on the horizon. 

    But time is short. In just a few months, mother seals will complete their migration to Canada’s east coast, where they will give birth to their pups on the ice floes in the spring. Our challenge is to ensure that by that time, peace has been restored to the harp seal nursery.


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  • Take the cruelty out of Fashion                                                        4 – 5

    Take the Cruelty out of Fashion

    In these modern times, some 20 years after the peak of the anti-fur protests of the 1980s and 1990s, you could be forgiven for thinking the wearing of fur is now restricted to a small minority. However, despite continued campaigns against the cruel industry, fur is still being worn by millions of people worldwide, people who are unaware of having chosen to ignore the realities of fur production.

    The acceptance of fur products by society is the ultimate goal of the huge industry behind it, an industry worth HK$1billion a year in Hong Kong exports alone. And it seems to be working, the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council has reported a year on year increase of fur exports: 28 per cent up in 2010 and 31 per cent up for the first half of 2011. These increases are undoubtedly related to the booming industry in China that commands 65 per cent of global supply.

    So, as winter arrives in Hong Kong, it is important that we are all reminded why we should not purchase any fur products, and to be vigilant to avoid easily overlooked fur trim. Today with advances in clothing technology there are alternatives to fur that provide better protection from the elements. In terms of animal welfare we can no longer justify the use and abuse of animals by the fur trade to produce what are effectively vanity items.


    Fur is cruel

    Investigative reports have consistently found fur farm animals imprisoned in tiny cages. Many exhibit abnormal behaviours such as self-mutilation and cannibalisation of their young as a result of the extreme stress of captivity. At the end of their unhappy lives they also face being skinned alive, strangled, gassed, drowned, electrocuted or beaten to death. Contrary to popular belief, the condition of how the animal is kept has little bearing on the quality of fur, so good welfare is not a priority to the fur farms. The level of suffering is multiplied for every garment as it typically takes 30 animals or more to create one fur coat.


    Fur is NOT “green”

    One current fur industry marketing strategy is to try to re-brand fur as eco-friendly. Far from being a “natural” and an environmentally friendly choice, fur requires toxic chemicals such as chromium, formaldehyde and naphthalene in its processing to stop the pelts from rotting. Fur requires up to 60 times more energy to process than manufacturing synthetic fur.


    Labelled products cannot be trusted

    There is no guarantee that furs are truthfully labelled. Presently, furs re-exported by Hong Kong furriers from mainland farms are not inspected or regulated by law. Dog and cat fur are commonly disguised as higher-end fur products such as fox. Cat fur has been found to be mislabelled as rabbit fur. In 1997, 4.7 tons of dog hide was intercepted by the Hong Kong government en route to Italy.

    Consumers are also advised to be wary when buying fake fur. Fake fur or faux fur jackets have been found to contain fur from dogs and cats. An investigation by the Humane Society of the United States revealed that even well-known brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan were unaware that their faux fur trim was actually dog fur.


    The Burn Test

    • Many artificial furs are actually real. If you have a garment with artificial fur, test it to see if it is real or fake.
    • Take a few strands from your garment and carefully set them alight.
    • If the fur is of animal origin, the tip of the fur should crumble as it burns, and smell like burning hair.
    • If the fur is fake, the tip should burn and curl up into a hard ball and give off a synthetic odour.


    “Fur farming is well regulated and operates within the highest standards of care.”

    “Only good animal welfare is acceptable for fur farmed animals and this should be the basis of all animal husbandry legislation.”

    “I don’t think that China needs any legislation concerning fur animals… In China we trust the Finnish ability and know-how of how to farm foxes because Finns have bred fur animals over 1,000 years.” A Chinese fur farmer

    “Fur farmers have a vested interest in keeping their animals healthy and content.”


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  • OWL ON THE MENU Wildlife Consumption in China                      6 – 7

    OWL ON THE MENU Wildlife Consumption in China
    By Rupert Griffiths

    When people understood the link between their consumption habits and wildlife populations they were more likely to change their behaviour.

    The first owl I ever saw resembled a fluffy ball of mottled feathers punctuated by a pair of piercing citrine eyes. It was perched in a cage that was presented to me by Chris Wong, a neighbour and good friend of mine. I was amazed at the beauty of the small bird as it stared back at me through the bamboo bars, displaying an accurate reflection of my own startled expression. “It’s for our winter soup!” Chris pronounced proudly, before offering me a tit bit of food to feed the hungry bird.

    It was 1985 and that owl was a wake-up call for me. Although already a keen wildlife enthusiast at the tender age of 14, I had no idea that owls featured on the menu in Hong Kong or China. The concept of eating this exquisite yet comical bird went against everything I believed. I asked Chris if I could “rescue” the owl from its cooking pot fate and he explained to me that his parents thought that eating wildlife was good for their health, especially during the winter months. He said it was a common belief that wild animals are stronger and more vigorous than farmed animals, and that these good traits could be assimilated by eating them. Chris promised to take me to a wildlife market to see for myself.

    So it was just a few weeks later that I found myself across the border in Shenzhen, walking down the busy thoroughfare of a wildlife market. At the entrance there were snake sellers, attracting attention with the use of venomous cobras, undoubtedly de-fanged but still unnerving as they displayed their hoods and occasionally lunged at passersby only to be pulled short at the last minute. Next to them were cages upon cages of civet cats, ferret badgers, leopard cats, all with bleeding and damaged noses from their desperate attempts to escape. The occasional larger animal such as a wild boar or barking deer lay on the ground close to death, each with a missing limb, lost to the traps that snared them. Birds were everywhere, especially wild ducks and game birds but also rare and regal species such as falcons, hawks, owls and eagles. Occasionally a trader would have an item of particular interest that would draw a crowd, including huge pythons, the pelts of leopards or severed bear paws. The market street went on for a few hundred metres and I lost count of the numbers of different species of rare and endangered animals being sold. It was a depressing scene for me and I was relieved to finally emerge back onto the earthen streets of Shenzhen, in those days, an underdeveloped and messy frontier town.

    Chris argued that there was nothing wrong with the consumption of wildlife, that it was a resource like any other; but the sheer scale of the trade just did not seem sustainable to me, it had to be having an effect on wild populations. I also had serious concerns about the welfare of the animals, the unnecessary suffering that they endured so that people could buy them live. These were wild animals, trapped in inhumane traps and then kept in terrible conditions during transport and sale. Modern farming practices leave a lot to be desired but at least farmed animals can be kept, transported and slaughtered in controlled conditions and stress can be kept to a minimum.

    I later learnt that the southern provinces, Guangdong in particular due to its prosperity, were the epicentre for wildlife consumption in China. China had already demonstrated a commitment to wildlife conservation when it became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species in 1981. This explained why less wildlife was coming across the border into Hong Kong, but it had little effect on the trade within China. In 1988 the authorities enacted the National Wildlife Protection Law, which designated a two-tier system prohibiting the hunting, transport and sale of listed endangered species. Enforcement was sadly lacking as demonstrated by a market survey conducted in 1993 (Lau et al, 1995) that reported many thousands of wildlife species for sale.

    Between October 2000 and March 2003, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden conducted comprehensive surveys every two weeks in four markets in Guangdong province and recorded almost 700 species of wildlife of which 59 were listed as threatened. The volume of animals for sale had increased since the 1993 surveys and a typical single visit to a market yielded about 500 mammals, 2,500 birds and 5,000 to 25,000 reptiles (Lee et al, 2004). They reported that enhanced provincial wildlife protection enacted in 2001 only had a short-term impact, and trade resumed at a normal level several months later. They also noted an increase of wild animals from suspected captive-bred sources but were concerned about the welfare and hygiene issues at wildlife “farms”. There was a strong indication that local wildlife species were scarcer and that traders were having to import large numbers from other parts of Southeast Asia to meet the demand.

    The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 came with a silver lining; the discovery of the virus in some species of civet cat brought a massive drop in the wildlife trade. Due to the link with SARS, the authorities in Guangdong restricted the trade in wildlife to only captive-bred species, a move which was warmly received by wildlife conservationists. Unfortunately pressure to enforce this law diminished over time and in more recent years, increasing prosperity and development throughout China has resulted in an increase and spread of wildlife consumption. A recent survey conducted by TRAFFIC (anon, 2010) showed that one motivational driver behind wildlife consumption was to demonstrate wealth and success; men and people with higher incomes were more likely to consume wildlife. The survey also highlighted confusion among consumers about the conservation status of wildlife species and the protection laws pertaining to them.

    So, 26 years on from my discovery of the ugly truth of wildlife consumption, there is still a long way to go to protect our remaining wildlife and prevent unnecessary suffering. Education is the priority. TRAFFIC’s study showed that when people understood the link between their consumption habits and wildlife populations they were more likely to change their behaviour. I know it can be done as I’ve seen it happen: Chris eventually changed his mind all those years ago and released that beautiful owl back into the wild.



    Anon.(2010).Understanding the motivations: the first step toward influencing China’s unsustainable wildlife consumption. TRAFFIC East Asia.



    Lau, M.W.-N., Ades, G., Goodyer, N. and Zhou, F.-s. 1995. Wildlife Trade in Southern China including Hong Kong and Macao. Unpublished report to China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development



    Lee, K.S., Lau, M. and Chan, B. (2004). Wild Animal Trade Monitoring in Selected Markets in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, South China 2000-2003. Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden Corporation, Hong Kong SAR



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  • Compassionate Conservation                                                          8 – 9

    Compassionate Conservation
    Conservation is as much about the individual as it is about the species.

    In this era of Animal Planet, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, programmes about the environment and wildlife conservation are ubiquitous, and all of us have at least a kernel of knowledge about wildlife conservation. We are all stirred by the images of rare and amazing creatures in their natural environment, and we are also disturbed by the increasing rate of extinction, and the loss of habitat due to human development. But for most of us, the main reason we watch these documentaries is because they give us a chance to connect with the individual animals captured on camera and catch a glimpse of the lives they lead. These documentaries give us a window into a private and sometimes hostile world, and a chance to understand the pressures faced by a young lioness with her first cubs, or to appreciate the mixture of fear and excitement of a young falcon taking its first flight.

    By making this connection and developing empathy for these wild animals we are effectively merging two fields of science: animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Both animal welfare and wildlife conservation deal with the protection of animals but they take completely different approaches. Wildlife conservation focuses on the preservation of the natural world and the prevention of irreversible extinctions. Animal welfare, on the other hand, is concerned about reducing animal suffering whether wild or domesticated. In a nutshell, conservation is more about protecting the species, and animal welfare is about preventing the suffering of the animals themselves.

    There has been some unfortunate stereotyping of both camps. Conservationists are often portrayed as hard scientists who typically value a species as a series of numbers: the number of females, males, young, the minimum viable population, genetic bottlenecks, habitat availability and home-range size. Animal welfare practitioners on the other hand are perceived to be soft and unscientific, eager to cuddle every individual animal and jumping to anthropomorphic conclusions about their needs at every opportunity.

    Of course, reality is never black and white, and both groups do share overlapping concerns. In recent years, a new field known as “Compassionate Conservation” has emerged that embodies a melding of welfare and conservation approaches. The essence of compassionate conservation is that conservation is as much about the individual as it is about the species. It is only through the protection of individuals that a species may be protected. And it is only through the connection between individuals, between wildlife and humans, that there will be the desire to protect a species.

    The work of eminent biologist Jane Goodall is an excellent demonstration of the principles of compassionate conservation. She approached the task of studying Chimpanzees in the 1960s with much empathy and reflection, naming and getting to know each individual and its role in the group. Her approach might have seemed initially intuitive and unscientific, but through a much deeper connection with her study animals she produced some of the most ground-breaking science of her era. Crucially, she was able to share her experience with the rest of the world and, with her rich and detailed stories, inspire others with the passion and desire to protect and conserve wildlife.

    Another example of compassion for individual animals that led to true and long-lasting conservation is the story of Joy Adamson and Elsa the Lioness. Adamson’s book Born Free told the true story of a lioness. Her experience of recording the behaviour of a small group of lions led to a huge change in the perception of the species and increased conservation work, not to mention the establishment of the Born Free Foundation that now supports conservation work across the globe.

    Compassionate conservation is not only about generating public support by connecting people with wildlife issues; it is also about improving the gritty details of conservation work to take into account the welfare of the individual animal. Compassionate conservation projects include rigorous assessment of the welfare of the animals involved. Whether an animal is being tagged for population studies or caught and relocated to a new area for a reintroduction, it is important to fully understand and mitigate any suffering caused by the procedure. Such assessment has been made possible by developments in the field of animal welfare that have provided objective tools to measure stress and its effects. Indeed some welfare research has had direct benefits for conservation work. A study by Stephen Harris of Bristol University showed that welfare-orientated rehabilitation techniques used for hedgehogs provided a significantly higher survival rate in relocated populations. Research from the wildlife conservation camp, such as that by David Macdonald of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University, has also paved the way for assessing animal welfare in conservation work, including the identification of stress indicators such as body weight, blood and behavioural parameters.

    Compassionate conservation has probably always been in the hearts of biologists, but the formalisation of the field brings together conservation science and welfare science, providing the basis for a more holistic approach to wildlife conservation. It is not unscientific or anthropomorphic – it is an assurance that ensuring the welfare of individuals is as important as preserving populations, and this approach just might provide the support to help us overcome many of the challenges facing the natural world.



    Bonacic C., Macdonald D.W. and Villouta G. (2003). Adrenocorticotrophin-induced stress response in captive vicunas (Vicuna vicuna) in the Andes of Chile. Animal Welfare 12:369-385.


    Born Free Foundation.

    Gelling, M. (2010). Health and welfare in reintroductions: Lessons from small mammals. Dphil thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.


    Jane Goodall Institute.

    Mclaren G.W., Mathews F., Fell R., Gelling M. and Macdonald D.W. (2004). Body Weight change as a measure of stress: a practical test. Animal Welfare 13:337-341


    Molony, S.E., Dowding, C.V., Baker, P.J., Innes, C.C., Harris, S. (2006). The effect of translocation and temporary captivity on wildlife rehabilitation success: an experimental study using European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Biology Conservation 130: 530-537


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  • Fish Know When They Are Created                                                 10

    Fish Know When They Are Cheated

    by Marc Bekoff 

    The more we study other animals the more we learn about their fascinating cognitive, emotional, and moral lives. Many animals display moral behavior (wild justice), mice, chickens, and other animals display empathy, ravens punish other ravens who steal food, pigs can be optimists or pessimists, and now we know that fish punish others who steal their food. It’s been well-demonstrated that fish are sentient beings who feel pain and don’t like winding up with a hook in their mouth, and now we’ve learned they show complex behavior that indicates they’re well aware of when they’re being hooked by another fish and don’t like it. 

    Redouan Bshary and his colleagues studied punishment in a fish known as the bluestreak cleaner wrasse. These fish live in coral reefs and establish feeding stations where larger fish come to have their skin cleaned. The wrassses prefer the carbohydrate rich mucus that coats the skin of the fish who come in to be cleaned. It turns out that males don’t like it when females come in and steal their food in the wild or in laboratory experiments. The males go berserk and females learn to stop stealing food. In the wild it’s suggested that male cleaners punish females because after they bite the fish who come to be cleaned the fish swim away and the male loses food. The males make sure stealing will be less likely to occur in the future. The researchers suggest that the behavior of the wrasse may be a precursor to our more complex systems of punishment. If this seems like a flight of fancy consider that we also know that fish are able to make choices based on numbers. 

    Fish are amazing beings and the more we study them the more we learn about their well-developed cognitive and emotional capacities, and now it looks like they, like many other animals, don’t like being harmed and also don’t like being treated unfairly and will do something about it.

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


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  • Be part of the solution, not the problem                                            11

    Be part of the solution, not the problem

    SPCA recently polled members of the public to understand why pet trading laws continue to be broken. Some of the major findings, conducted by University of Hong Kong interns Ricky Ho and Bache Sit, are summarised below:

    There is currently no limit or control of animals from illegal sources. Aside from a small fine, there is no penalty: traders’ licences are not revoked. There is thus no liability for pet shop owners in obtaining animals from illegal breeders.

    The maximum penalty for illegal pet trading ($2,000) is even lower than the cost of applying for a licence ($2,670). Illegal pet trading remains a lucrative and hugely profitable business as most people polled were willing to spend a comparatively large amount of money on a pet companion (up to $10,000). 

    Even though 39 out of 50 people felt that animal cruelty should carry a mandatory imprisonment sentence, 41 out of 50 people polled did not realise that pet shop animals could actually be sourced illegally. This low level of public awareness is thus a big factor in contributing to the perpetuation of the illegal trade.


    How can we stop the illegal trade?

    Aside from the inadequate penalties outlined above, a large driving force behind the illegal trade in pets is poor public awareness and high demand/prices. Education and increased awareness is the key to stopping the problem at source. 

    The SPCA recommends that people looking for pets consider adoption first, but if the decision has been made to purchase a pet, then buyers should ensure that the pet in mind has been legally obtained and is being sold by a licensed pet shop.

    Ensure that the pet shop has a current Animal Trading Licence from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). This licence must be displayed prominently at the entrance of the premises.

    All dogs must be weaned before they are sold. Don’t buy puppies or kittens that are too young, no matter what the pet shop tells you. Animals that are separated from their mothers too early (at less than 12 weeks of age) may not have acquired sufficient immunity from their mother’s milk and are often vulnerable to disease.



    Cats must have

    • an original vaccination certificate that declares the cat was vaccinated by a registered veterinarian against feline panleukopenia and feline respiratory disease by a licensed veterinarian in Hong Kong.



    Every dog, regardless of origin, must have

    • a microchip implanted. Ask the shop to scan the animal to show you.
    • an original vaccination certificate that declares the dog was vaccinated by a registered veterinarian against canine distemper, canine parvovirus and infectious hepatitis.


    If the dog or cat is legally imported, each animal should have

    • a valid import permit issued by the AFCD and
    • a valid health certificate issued by the veterinary authority of the exporting country.

    If the dog is from a local, private breeder, the pet shop needs to give you the “Veterinary Certificate on Puppy for Sale”. This is issued by a registered veterinary surgeon in Hong Kong. It must state the microchip numbers of the dog and its mother.

    All certificates must indicate the date and place of vaccination/inspection, details of the registered veterinarian and the microchip number (for dogs).

    Get an official, dated receipt, with the shop name and address, stating the microchip number of the dog purchased.

    ALWAYS ask to see proper documentation to reduce the risk of supporting the puppy mill industry in mainland China (Pawprint No. 77) and Hong Kong (Pawprint No. 83).

    If you suspect a pet shop is operating illegally, or is selling animals in poor condition, call the SPCA hotline on 2711 1000 or the AFCD hotline on 1823.


    For more information and sample documents, please visit the AFCD’s website on Animal Trading:





    “STOP”, a local animal-welfare coalition, has a handy little pamphlet detailing the things one should look out for when evaluating a pet shop and lists the certification required if you want to buy a dog from a pet shop.

    ENG & CHN


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  • Farm Animal Welfare in Hong Kong                                                  12 – 13

     A retrospective view

    I have visited Hong Kong many times, en route to Papua New Guinea, but the last time was over 32 years ago! Little did I know back then that I would be invited back in 2011 by SPCA Hong Kong to consider issues of food animal welfare after a life long career in research, consultancy and
    welfare training worldwide.

    The overwhelming visual changes in Hong Kong over this time left me wondering if there was an equivalent change in the attitude and the process by which inhabitants of this unique city satisfied their requirement to consume meat from farmed cattle, pigs, chickens and aquaculture. 

    Food animal welfare has everything to do with humans - the empathy, relationship and commitment individuals bring to bear when we have a ‘duty of care’ during production, transport, marketing, stunning, slaughter or killing.  Substantial knowledge, skill and experience are required to ensure humane treatment of animals at any level of production.

    Where animals are destined for food, consideration for their welfare still provokes a wide variety of responses worldwide, not all of them demonstrating an acceptance of the direct relevance to livestock that will be stunned, slaughtered or killed.  Scientific research has provided insight into the impact of production systems with respect to animal welfare.  The behavioral sciences have described a basic set of provisions in the ‘Five Freedoms’.  Meat science has led to a greater understanding of the process of converting muscle to different products.  Welfare research continues to improve our understanding of processes in the food production chain, as well as assisting the development of more humane systems on farm, during transport and at the abattoir.

    Worldwide, the availability of meat products still comes from ‘wet markets’ rather than commercial retail sourced from centralised slaughter facilities. The usual justification for poor animal welfare at wet markets invokes the use of the word ‘cultural’, that it is in some way unique to a particular way of life, affording it protection from criticism or change as pressure to improve welfare and quality outcomes increases.  In reality, a wet market in Java, Nicaragua or Nepal operates in almost exactly the same way, undermining the ‘cultural’ argument. The word ‘traditional’ may be more appropriate as it simply recognises the tendency for humans to perpetuate certain procedures over time when they are economically and/or logistically sustainable.

    Not withstanding the effect of Avian Influenza and SARS, there has been a gradual reduction in the numbers of wet markets within Hong Kong.  Welfarists may applaud this decline suggesting that many animals are subjected to unnecessary suffering possibly due to poor knowledge, experience, skills or resources.  However, the reason for the decline may have less to do with raising awareness and more to do with economic reality and a generational change in the way in which indigenous people source, store and prepare food.  Wet markets are generally frequented by communities seeking meat products at an affordable price with less concern for ‘meat quality’.  Moreover, where there is insufficient income to purchase fresh or frozen meat from large retail stores and no ability to store a perishable product at home, the future of wet markets is to some extent assured…meat must be ‘fresh’.

    Internationally, it would be unwise to suggest that the welfare status of slaughter animals is better by default within centralised commercial facilities unless substantiated by reliable peer reviewed data.  Even today, the priority of a centralised abattoir tends to be food hygiene and public safety with animal welfare further down the list.  A possible explanation maybe because the issue of hygiene and food safety is a not only a key area of social responsibility for local government carrying significant liability if standards are not met, but also that it is based on a more exact science, leading to well defined procedures that can be implemented, monitored and assured.  In short, compared to animal welfare, it’s relatively easy.

    Even today, the priority of a centralized abattoir tends to be food hygiene and public safety with animal welfare further down the list.

    By contrast, the introduction, implementation and assessment of higher standards of animal welfare ante-mortem in an abattoir often presents a number of unique challenges as a consequence of both objective, and critically subjective science, a lack of detailed understanding of procedures, required outcomes and in some cases complex technology, resulting in a wide variation in welfare and quality outcomes.  In short, compared to food safety, animal welfare is relatively hard.

    How then do we characterise the relationship between wet markets, supermarkets and centralised slaughter? What are the advantages or disadvantages of each with respect to animal welfare and product quality?  Ultimately, they all service a ‘need’, namely the demand for meat products.  Leaving the moral and ethical debate aside, it is realistic to suggest that meat consumption is not going to stop anytime soon, requiring those associated with the industry to ensure that our ‘duty of care’ for food animals is exercised to its fullest extent.  Within centralised slaughter, it is possible to achieve positive welfare outcomes by assuring compliance with legislation should it exist.  However, in reality, legislation represents minimum statutory requirements.  In this case, where the economic structure of the business extends from producers to retailers, then compliance with retailer standards and the requirement to ‘assure’ welfare throughout production tends to outweigh the effect of legislation, which simply permits enforcement and potential prosecution.  Increasingly, wet markets are also subject to inspection and enforcement; however it is often harder to assure welfare outcomes as we encounter ‘cultural’ or ‘traditional’ arguments.  Nevertheless, with appropriate guidance (Codes of Practice) where both practical and aspirational welfare outcomes can be embedded within, it is possible to initiate slow change of the industry.  Thirty years ago, wet markets were in the crowded back streets and alleyways of Hong Kong.  In 2011, many traditional businesses have migrated into cleaner, air conditioned shopping malls where it is evident that without knowing it, businessmen and women are slowly building ‘quality’ into the process through improved hygiene…and animal welfare.

    Increasingly, the international thirst for understanding the significance of welfare is largely driven by the implementation of standards, within which are embedded requirements to improve all aspects of production, including welfare.  The application of standards at present can be frustrated by intractable differences in geography, climate, culture, religion, knowledge and resources to name but a few. Providing greater understanding through education and training is central to any solution that is sympathetic to indigenous problems leading to indigenous or even international solutions.


    Paul Whittington
    Managing Director, Animal Welfare Training Ltd, UK


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  • Lily, the Remarkable Foster Dog                                                       14 – 15

    Lily, the Remarkable Foster Dog

    When you hear the words `foster parent’ the expectation is the foster will be human, so imagine our surprise when German Shepherd/Mix dog Lily took on the challenge!

    Lily was found in the new territories after being abandoned by her owner. Sick and hungry, Lily was adopted by a family who was able to help heal her past physical injuries. Lily learned to live with other dogs and cats and she fell into her daily routine, but something seemed to be missing.

    A few months after being adopted, Lily’s new family fostered a kitten. Although healthy, the kitten had been separated from its mother too soon and needed an extra amount of comfort. Each time the kitten cried Lily’s got anxious and paced in front of the door whining to the kitten on the other side. Lily’s maternal instincts kicked in and although the cry was from a kitten, she needed to comfort a species that wasn’t her own.

    Lily was brought into the kitten’s room to introduce them. Not knowing Lily’s history made it extremely important that the introduction be managed with the utmost care so no one would be injured. Lily sniffed the kitten who responded in kind. Lily’s warmth and attention drew the kitten closer until Lily was able to reach out with her tongue and gently lick the tiny baby.

    Although a bit wet, the kitten was interested enough to move in closer and that’s when it happened,

    Lily became a foster mum to her first kitten!

    The love and attention the human family had offered was no match for Lily’s special gifts. From her gentle licking to more intense cleanings the kitten was thoroughly bathed within the first few minutes of meeting her new foster mum. Although the human family was happy for the help, they still were concerned about leaving the two alone. Lily was taken for a walk and fed dinner but as soon as the evening ritual was done, Lily went back to the door and whimpered to see the kitten. On the other side of the door, the kitten cried in response and the two were immediately reunited.

    Although the kitten was old enough to eat solid foods, being separated from its mother at an early age left an unfulfilled desire to suckle. Ready for all the challenges of being a foster parent Lily did the unthinkable, she let the kitten suckle on her teats. Lily was spayed and could not provide milk, but the comfort suckling offered was what the kitten (and Lily) needed!

    Lily’s adoptive family was so moved by Lily’s support they promised if she ever chose a kitten of her own the family would adopt it. In 2010, Lily did choose a tri-colored kitten whose brother had died following an aggressive illness. Lily had never lost one her foster kittens and she put more time and energy into the remaining kitten than she had for any in the past.

    Lily lives with four other dogs who also like kittens but the instinct to care for them doesn’t exist. Her care and compassion extend into protection especially when the babies are young and Lily will not allow any of the family’s dogs to approach the kittens while in her care. 

    One of the best things about having Lily as a foster mum is the inability for the kittens to pass on illnesses such as cat flu.

    Cat flu strikes so many of the kittens and the comfort and care they receive from Lily tends to help them get through the worst.

    From the first kitten and through countless more, Lily continues to be an excellent foster mum. Each of the kittens Lily has helped raise has gone on to be well-adjusted social cats. No one ever imagined that a rescued dog with an unknown past could give so much to so many. We are grateful for all she has taught us and the love and care she continues to bestow.

    Lily was adopted by Janice Jansen, long time SPCA supporter and founder of HK AnimalSpeak.


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  • World Animal Day                                                                              16

    33,000 pledges to help animals

    As a special gift for animals on World Animal Day on October 4, 32,845 children from 68 schools signed pledges expressing their concern for animals.

    The pledges they made were to be kind to animals and treat them all with respect; to not eat sharks fin soup; to take good care of their pets; and to always be aware of what they eat and respect where it comes from.

    Students and teachers who signed the pledge received a SPCA pin to wear on World Animal Day, indicating their respect and concern for animals.

    In addition, many schools put on additional events and activities to mark World Animal Day. Amongst these, the HKTA Yuen Yuen Institute No. 3 Secondary School hosted a “Bring your pet” day, while Mu Kuang English School broadcasted an animal welfare message in their school radio programme.

    HHCKLA Buddhist Ching Kok Secondary School held a photography competition of people and pets; and HKMA K S Lo College invited the

    World Animal Day Ambassador, Sandy Macalister, to talk about animal welfare. 

    We thank students and teachers from schools which participated in the World Animal Day pledge signing.

    • I pledge to consider farm animal welfare when I buy food
    • I pledge Never to Wear Fur
    • I pledge to Take the Very Best Care of My Pet
    • I pledge Never to Eat Sharkfin Soup


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  • Vet Tips                                                                                              17

    Fresh Breath for Pets!

    Dental disease is one of the most common problems vets see. Symptoms of dental disease include swollen gums, loose teeth and pain when eating… but what owners notice most is awful breath! The good news: regular teeth brushing can delay the onset of dental disease – just like it does for humans.

    Many owners are initially nervous about teeth brushing.

    Here are my top tips: 

    FLAVOUR: Purchase one or two flavours of canine/feline toothpaste (never human paste). Let your pet lick each type off your finger to see which they prefer.

    GO SLOW: Teeth brushing is an odd feeling for most animals. On Day 1, use your finger to gently rub toothpaste on the front teeth ONLY. Your pet should lick the toothpaste off like peanut butter. When your pet shows signs of tolerating (or even enjoying) this, do the same with the back teeth. Eventually you should be able to use a soft toothbrush on all the teeth.

    PREVENTION: Don’t start brushing teeth when a problem is noticed – this is unlikely to help and may actually cause discomfort. Start brushing teeth at a few months of age a minimum of once- or twice-weekly brushing sessions for life.

    REGULAR VET CHECKS: Have your pet’s teeth checked yearly. Even if you brush the teeth regularly, eventually your pet will need a professional dental scaling and polishing. Think about it… the average human brushes their teeth 2 to 3 times a day, but still visits the dentist every 6 months!

    If your pet really will not tolerate teeth brushing, fear not; there are treats, gels, and special diets available. Dental health is achievable for all. Just ask your vet for more information on how to help keep your PET’S BREATH FRESH!


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  • Vet’s Case Book                                                                                 18

    “Breathe Easy” – Brachiocephalic Airway Disease

    Ripley, a one-year-old, female, spayed Boston terrier, presented with respiratory problems – she snored and struggled to breathe when exercising. When examined, she made a loud snoring noise at rest and had obvious stenotic nares (narrow nostrils), and when excited she would cough and retch up fluid.

    Many dogs have been bred to have short, squashed faces (the medical term is brachiocephalic). In the breeding process, the bones of the face have been shortened but not the soft tissue (tongue, soft palate and lining of the nasal structures). This has led to a number of problems caused by too much soft tissue and not enough space! In addition, many of the short-faced breeds have a very narrow trachea (the tube that connects the mouth to the lungs) and nares.

    These dogs have problems breathing, ranging from snoring to acute respiratory collapse and death. The disease is progressive with the breathing getting worse as the animal gets older. Increased turbulence (disturbed passage of air) in the airways leads to inflammation in the larynx (voice box) and eventually collapse of the laryngeal cartilage. This cartilage collapse is not easy to treat and can be fatal.

    To make matters worse, on top of the respiratory problems brachiocephalic airway disease leads to gastritis (stomach inflammation) in almost all patients with varying clinical signs from a poor appetite to severe vomiting.

    Unfortunately, nothing can be done to correct a large tongue or hypoplastic (narrow) trachea but it is possible to correct some of the other soft tissue excesses.

    With Ripley, it was decided that surgery could improve her condition and prevent further deterioration. Surgery was done to enlarge her nostrils and shorten her over-long soft palate to create more space at the back of the throat. To “open up” her nose a small wedge of tissue was cut out of each nostril and the remaining raw edges were sutured back together resulting in an enlarged opening (see diagram A). Her soft palate was cut and oversewn with dissolvable suture material to prevent bleeding (see diagram B). One of the complications of soft palate surgery is that dogs can develop severe swelling in the back of the throat; it is essential for close post-surgical monitoring and anti-inflammatory drugs to be given.

    Ripley made a full recovery and now breathes more easily than before. A happy little dog who loves to run and play!  

    If you are not sure if surgery would benefit your short-faced dog please consult our veterinary surgeons for advice. Early intervention is the key!


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  • Vet Profile                                                                                           19

    Dr. Carrie Daly
    Title: Veterinary Surgeon
    Nationality: American

    Academic qualifications:

    Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Biology, University of North Dakota and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), University of Minnesota, USA


    Career path:

    I started my career in rural America, working at a small-town practice. Most of the dogs I saw were 35 kg or bigger – definitely different from Hong Kong! I happily made the move to Hong Kong in 2010 to be with my husband, and locumed at a various clinics for a few months prior to starting at the SPCA.


    Veterinary interests:

    Dermatology, dentistry and feline medicine. I developed a love of dermatology while working for a specialist during veterinary school, and my interests in dentistry and feline medicine bloomed later. I am continually amazed at how much dental health is related to overall health. And cats… well… they’re just great little creatures.


    Reasons for working at the SPCA(HK):

    While I enjoyed private practice, I was never completely fulfilled because I felt I wasn’t doing enough for less fortunate animals. Working at the SPCA provides the perfect balance – I can practise high-quality medicine in the presence of several other fantastic veterinary surgeons, but still provide for homeless animals who need the help the most.



    Elsa the dog and Jack the cat – both adopted. Not forgetting my newest addition: Henry Hobbes, a kitten I fostered and have now adopted from the SPCA!



    Endurance races, such as marathons and overnight mountain hikes.


    Most unforgettable experience:

    I had only been a qualified a few months when my friend Vikki came to see me with her farm dog “Big”, a 10-year-old, 60-kg gentle giant who more than lived up to his name! Big hadn’t been eating well for a few days and seemed really quiet. Unfortunately, X-rays revealed a large mass in his abdomen, which appeared to be attached to his spleen. However, ultrasound showed that the mass might actually be a cyst hanging from his prostate. All a little confusing but we made the decision to take Big to surgery knowing that the mass might not be possible to remove. What I found during surgery was amazing; the mass was actually free-floating in the abdomen and not attached to any organ. No one in my practice had seen anything like it before! The whole mass was sent for analysis and the report came back that it was simply a necrotic haematoma (benign but rotten tumour of clotted blood). The characteristics of the tumour prompted the pathologist to suggest that it might have resulted from trauma. After racking her brain, Vikki remembered that Big had been kicked by a horse THREE YEARS earlier! Fortunately, surgery went very smoothly, Big made a full recovery and to this day still lives on the farm with the horses – only now giving them a wide berth…


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  • Vet Facts                                                                                             19


    Osteoarthritis (OA) is the breakdown of protective cartilage covering the ends of the bones at joints. This can lead to joint inflammation, growth of new bone and deterioration of the smooth cartilage – and most importantly, discomfort.


    What are the signs?

    • Lameness: more difficult to note in cats.
    • Reluctance to jump; slow in getting up after rest/sleep.
    • Exercise intolerance; reduced activity.
    • In cats: changes in grooming behaviour, e.g. matted coat, over-grooming of painful joints and changes to temperament (more grumpy!).


    What are the causes and incidence?

    More the 20% of dogs older than 1 year are estimated to be affected by OA. In cats, recent studies have shown that 90% of animals over 12 years of age have radiographic signs of OA.


    Some additional factors that contribute to OA in dogs and cats include:

    • Genetics: certain breeds of dogs and cats appear to be predisposed, e.g. Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherd Dogs, Scottish Folds, Maine Coons and Abyssinians.
    • Underlying orthopaedic conditions: many genetically predisposed animals develop OA because of an underlying problem such as bad hips (hip dysplasia), loose knee caps (patellar luxation) or torn ligaments (cruciate rupture).
    • Obesity: obesity does not cause OA, but will exacerbate the condition.
    • Acromegaly in cats: an unusual hormonal disease that results in diabetes and in some cats OA.


    How to diagnose osteoarthritis?

    Usually diagnosed during a clinical/orthopaedic examination by your veterinary surgeon. The extent and severity of the OA can be assessed by radiographs. Additional investigations, e.g. blood tests, may be necessary to rule out other conditions related to age as a large number of animals with OA are older.


    Management and treatment of the arthritic dog or cat

    • If possible, any underlying disorder, such as cruciate rupture or patellar luxation, should be treated surgically.
    • Not all animals that have radiographic signs of OA need treatment. If your pet is not showing any clinical signs, treatment may not be necessary.
    • Weight loss/weight control can help reduce the stress on arthritic joints.
    • Swimming and physiotherapy* can help alleviate pain and increase the range of movement of affected joints.
    • Medications, e.g. anti-inflammatories, are especially useful when there is pain, but should only be used after the animal has been fully assessed (for general health and the presence of other diseases).


    Please Note: do not “self” medicate your dog or cat; many human medications for pain relief can be fatal if given to your pet. ONLY use medication prescribed by a registered veterinary surgeon for your specific animal.

    Acupuncture* can be very useful in providing an alternative/supplementary form of pain management.

    Nutritional management: a wide range of dietary supplements and diets are available that can help reduce joint inflammation and improve cartilage quality.



    * The SPCA currently has three veterinary surgeons performing acupuncture and a resident physiotherapist. Please contact our Hong Kong or Kowloon centres if you would like more information.


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  • Parrot fever in the news                                                                       20

    Parrot fever in the news
    What is the most likely source of infection for parrots?

    The chance of infection is increased during times of stress, and when birds are grouped in large numbers such as during transportation or at the point of sale. The disease can easily be spread between wild caught birds and captive bred birds as both groups are often mixed during this stressful time. Although the trade in parrots is regulated by CITES, there is no quarantine requirement upon entry to Hong Kong.


    What is parrot fever?

    Parrot fever is a type of lung infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci. It is transmitted between birds, and from birds to humans; human to human transmission is not common. People in close contact with birds can contract it through the inhalation or ingestion of bird droppings, feather dust or nasal discharge. 

    In birds, symptoms include lethargy, watery droppings, nasal discharge, eye inflammation and breathing difficulties. In humans, the disease has cold-like symptoms – common symptoms include fever, headache, rash, muscle pain, chills and dry cough. The majority of people recover from it without treatment but a small number experience complications that may require hospitalisation.


    Best practices to avoid the disease in you or your bird.

    When buying a bird, find out more about the breeder and the conditions in which the bird was raised; reputable breeders should be open to enquiries about their breeding facilities. Wild caught birds should be avoided at all costs. Newly purchased birds should be given a thorough check-up by an experienced avian veterinarian when they first enter your home. If you already have other birds, you should seek advice from your veterinarian regarding quarantine before bringing home a new bird.

    Bird cages should not be placed in kitchens or bedrooms for hygiene purposes. Cages, perches and food bowls should be cleaned daily and disinfected regularly as bird faeces can remain infectious for many weeks. Also remember to wash your hands after you handle your bird. By maintaining good hygiene and by keeping your parrot in good physical and mental health, the chances of psittacosis can be greatly reduced. Remember that psittacosis is treatable once diagnosed – being a knowledgeable and observant owner is the best way of getting an early diagnosis and timely treatment for both you and your pet.


    Parrot fever, also known as psittacosis, is a rare infection in humans that has recently been reported in the Hong Kong press in two separate incidents. In September three people contracted the infection from their recently purchased cockatoos, and in October two members of staff at Ocean Park tested positive for the bacteria.

    In the first case, the bacteria were spread from two Moluccan cockatoos that had been purchased from a Yuen Po Road bird market in June. One of the birds was reported to have been lethargic with nasal discharge and watery droppings shortly after it was brought home, and both were subsequently found to be carriers. The second case involving the Ocean Park employees was traced back to a Yellow Headed Amazon parrot that was bought from a pet shop in Wanchai.

    Fortunately parrot fever is treatable with antibiotics and all the victims of the infection have made a full recovery. However, the cases do highlight the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans, and remind us to be aware of the risks and to take all necessary precautions.


    For more information regarding parrot fever:

    Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection

    (ENG) >

    (CHN) >


    For more information regarding all issues of parrot care, please visit:

    World Parrot Trust


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  • My story - the Red-Eared Slider                                                           21

    My story - the Red-Eared Slider

    I was hatched in a terrapin breeding farm in Guangdong and immediately packed into a plastic crate, put on a truck with thousands of other terrapins and driven along bumpy roads all the way to Hong Kong. Soon after I arrived I was placed in a small plastic tub in a busy pet shop with hundreds of other terrapins. It was a struggle to breath properly as we were all piled on top of each other and I had to work hard to stay near the top of the pile. We did not get much water and I felt very thirsty and ill, but not as ill as some of the other terrapins that got stuck at the bottom of the pile and died.

    I was then purchased by a small boy called Mike with the help of his parents. Mike’s parents thought I would be a great first pet for Mike but I soon found that he did not know how to look after me.  He kept me in a small tank and I had no where to hide, nothing to climb on. Some days I was trapped in deep water that caused my skin to soften and become sore, on other days I was left without water at all!

    Mike didn’t think about the temperature in the tank and it was often too hot or too cold, causing problems with my stomach making me feel very unwell. Although I managed to survive, I was always tired and weak. At some times of the year my stomach felt a bit better and I could digest my food, but Mike usually gave me the wrong type of food, too rich in protein and deficient in calcium. My shell became soft and warped and my bones and joints constantly ached.

    Over the next couple of years I grew larger but Mike didn’t think to get me a bigger tank. I could not move about much, and I suffered from endless boredom and discomfort. I spent a lot of my time trying to forget my aches and pains and just dreamt about the day that I would be given a better home. Mike was becoming forgetful and often did not feed me or change my water. I was still a young turtle capable of living 20 years or more so I despaired about my future. I had heard that some turtle owners abandoned their turtles in Hong Kong’s reservoirs, and as much as I like the idea of more space, I was terrified that Mike might do this to me. I knew that if I was released there would be a good chance that I would be hunted by Black Kites, and as I am not native to Hong Kong I would struggle to survive in the unsuitable habitat.

    Then one day it all changed for me. Mike read an article in the SPCA’s Pawprint Magazine about how to look after terrapins, and from that day I was given better food, a bigger tank, places to hide, and lights and heating that meant I no longer felt sick. As I look back on the suffering I endured for too many years, I thank the SPCA for educating Mike.


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  • SPCA Case files                                                                                   22 – 23

    From June 2011 to August 2011, the Inspectorate received a total of 11,833 calls and handled 1,755 animals. SPCA Inspectors rescued 445 animals, investigated 253 complaints, and conducted inspections of 88 pet shops and 144 wet markets.


    June (Rescued)

    This Rottweiler was found wandering along the Fanling Highway unable to make its own way home because of the volume of heavy traffic confronting it. It was rescued by SPCA inspectors and finally returned to its owners.


    June (Rescued)

    A kitten was reported trapped in an elevator in Tsuen Wan with both its front paws injured and bleeding. After considerable effort, SPCA inspectors managed to free the otherwise healthy animal and took it to the SPCA’s hospital for treatment and care.


    June (Rescued)

    The Husky is known to be a rather independent breed of dog with lots of energy, which if left untapped can turn it into an escape artist or runaway. This one jumped over balcony railings and fell onto a narrow ledge below. It was trapped on the outside of the building at some height before being rescued by an SPCA inspector and returned to its owner at the scene.


    July (Rescued)

    An SPCA inspector was called to rescue a dog which had fallen into the sea at Cha Kwo Ling and was trapped among some floating metal pipes. With the help of passersby, the inspector was able to reach the dog and return it to its owner.


    July (Collected)

    A baby civet cat found by a member of public in Tuen Mun was collected by SPCA inspectors and sent to KFBG for treatment and care. The first thing to know about civets is that they are not cats; they have a catlike body but are in fact more related to the mongoose. Nocturnal mammals, they feed on rats, frogs and other small animals, and also fruit and seeds. The Masked Palm Civet (seen here) eats mainly rats and for this reason is an important predator in rural areas.


    July (Collected)

    Two abandoned hedgehogs were collected by an SPCA Inspector from Ma On Shan. They were taken to the SPCA’s hospital for custody and care. Hedgehogs are not native to Hong Kong and these two must have been acquired through the illegal pet trade. Hedgehogs may look cute, but they require a lot of work to feed and keep clean – added to which you can’t cuddle them and they are inclined to bite.


    July (Rescued)

    SPCA inspectors were alerted to puppy noises coming from a cultivated slope in Kowloon City. They searched the area and rescued two puppies from the bushes, taking them to the SPCA’s hospital for custody and care.


    July (Rescued)

    A baby monkey whose mother had been killed in a road accident in Kam Shan Country Park was rescued by SPCA inspectors. It was taken to KFBG for treatment and further care. An increase in population of Rhesus Macaques in the country parks in recent years has caused them to expand their territories and in doing so they sometimes cross Hong Kong’s busy roads – with often fatal results.


    July (Under investigation)

    Two dogs left unattended for a long period without food and water in an apartment in Fanling were removed by an SPCA inspector. They were extremely thin when rescued and police are investigating this possible animal cruelty case.


    July (Arrested)

    A member of the public was arrested under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for keeping 80 cats in appalling conditions in premises in Wan Chai. The cats had been held in conditions which had caused them unnecessary suffering.


    August (Rescued)

    Puppies can get up to all sorts of mischief and this one got itself well and truly stuck attempting to pursue something down a drainage hole on the rooftop of a house in Sha Tau Kok. An SPCA inspector was called to help and managed to extricate the puppy, which, much to the owner’s relief, was uninjured.


    August (Rescued)

    A barking deer (Chinese Muntjac) was rescued by SPCA inspectors from road railings in Yuen Long where it had become stuck. It was taken to KFBG for treatment of its injured hindquarters and further care.


    August (Rescued)

    A cow seen on Lantau Island with its legs wrapped tightly with string was attended to by an SPCA vet and inspector, together with officers the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). The string was cut and the uninjured cow, happy to be freed, wandered away immediately.


    August (Rescued)

    A small puppy which had fallen 4 metres into a ditch in Tsueng Kwan O was rescued by SPCA inspectors and taken to the SPCA’s hospital for custody and care. 


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  • Team Effort                                                                                           24 – 25

    Inspector Cheung Kwok Kei 
    Describes the challenges that can face an inspector in the SPCA (HK)

    I originally joined the SPCA as an animal warden to care for the wide variety of animals waiting to be adopted from the Society. Animals arrived at the SPCA for different reasons: some had been abandoned by previous owners; some had been abused. Their misfortunes deepened my sympathy for them and increased my resentment towards the brutality and ruthlessness in society which they exposed. The experience fuelled my interest in being at the frontline in helping save such animals. I successfully applied to become an inspector and have been with the Inspectorate Department for more than six years.

    Before taking up my current job, I imagined that my previous experience in the kennels would suffice to make me competent. However, I soon discovered that saving animals was not as easy as I had thought. The work of the Inspectorate is full of challenges. We face different and unexpected situations every day, but we have to see every mission through which we are called to attend, often with limited resources to get an animal in need out of danger. A recent SPCA rescue operation has reinforced in me the importance of team effort.

    At noon one day an expatriate called the hotline to report a buffalo trapped in a water-catchment channel. Two of my Inspectorate colleagues went straightaway to investigate and found the buffalo, which they estimated to weigh nearly one ton, trapped in a channel about 1.5 meters deep part-filled with water. The buffalo was assumed to have stumbled in unintentionally. Fortunately, it appeared to be unharmed. However, for two of them to get the buffalo out proved difficult and they realized they needed more manpower and resources.

    They immediately called in another two colleagues and contacted the Fire Services Department for assistance. Unfortunately, the road proved too narrow to get a fire engine close to the animal, confounding the rescue effort. But our colleagues did not give up. They discussed alternative methods of trying to save the buffalo, finally building an inclined platform with fallen branches and bamboo found nearby in the hope of pushing and pulling the buffalo back up to safety. They nearly succeeded several times, but a one-ton buffalo needed more manpower to move than they had at hand. To make matters worse, it was beginning to get dark, rendering the rescue operation more difficult and dangerous. Although trapped, the buffalo was in no real danger, and concerned about safety the inspectors decided to leave and to continue the rescue operation the next day.

    Early the next day, a team of eight from the Inspectorate (five of us were actually supposed to be on leave that day) returned to the scene and found the buffalo still there, standing in the channel. This time we were fully prepared and worked together to build a stronger platform, and managed between us to drag the animal out of the water. The moment it finally staggered out onto dry land and wandered off unhurt to chew grass, we couldn’t help but feel jubilant. Not only had we saved the buffalo, but we had accomplished something that had originally looked impossible.

    1. A buffalo is trapped in a water catchment
    2. Despite various means it was impossible to get the buffalo out
    3. Our Inspectors came up a creative solution
    4. The team brought in construction materials...
    5. To build a incline for the buffalo to walk out
    6. And started building a platform...
    7. Strong enough for a one-ton buffalo
    8. It took some coating...
    9. Before the animal was freed...
    10. And wandered off leisurely to chew some grass!


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  • Happenings                                                                                           26 – 27

    SPCA salutes Ocean Park on beluga whales

    In our last issue we highlighted the plight of live capturing marine mammals including beluga whales for exhibition and performance in water parks. In August, after months of preparation, the Ocean Park made a U-turn and announced their intention to drop plans to bring in beluga whales.

    We applaud Ocean Park’s responsible and bold decision. As a leading marine park, Ocean Park has set a standard for the rest of Asia to follow.


    Laughing Gor launches SPCA facebook campaign

    Michael Tse Tin Wah, of “Laughing Gor” fame, helped the SPCA launch a facebook campaign to promote the message of responsible pet ownership. Michael Tse is SPCA’s newest ambassador and we welcome his efforts to encourage pet owners to a life long commitment to look after their companion animals.


    Animal Slaughter Expert talks to SPCA

    Dr Paul Whittington gave SPCA members a talk on animal welfare and humane slaughter issues as part of our 90th anniversary seminars series. Over 30 members attended the presentation and left with new insights on how best to kill farm animals without causing unnecessary suffering. See Dr Whittington’s article on page 4. 

    Animals, welfare, people, ethics and legislation are inextricably intertwined. In its 90th Anniversary year the SPCA Hong Kong in conjunction with the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK) is delighted to present a seminar by Dr James Yeates and Professor Mike Radford focusing on animal ethics and animal welfare legislation.


    Companion Animal Ethics
     “Pethics” – Dr James Yeates

    How we treat animals in our care is an area that has received increasing amounts of investigation within bioethics, and this research has had significant impact on policies in many countries. Within this field, companion animal ethics has received relatively little research. Yet companion animals spend most of their time in close proximity and personal relationships with humans and their lives are greatly affected by those humans, through least through breeding, care, animal-human relationships, veterinary treatment and euthanasia.

    Dr Yeates will give an overview of the history of animal ethics before focusing on some of the features specific to companion animal ethics


    Date:    Sunday 27th November

    Time:    2.15 pm – 4.30pm

                 (registration starts 2:00pm)

    Place:   Lecture Theatre 2, Institute of

                 Vocational Education Morrison Hill

                 No 6 Oi Kwan Road, Wanchai,

                 Hong Kong


    For registration please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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  • How Hong Kong’s Generosity Helped                                                   28 – 29

    Where your donations were spent after Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami

    Donations, including that collected by the SPCA Hong Kong, was mainly used to build temporary shelters, supply medicine and to pay operating costs of shelters: staff costs (including veterinary), rent, electricity, gas, transportation, office supplies, communication costs and rent.

    Immediately following the east Japan earthquake on March 11 a headquarters was established for the Animal Disaster Response Team (ADRT), which comprised the four main Japanese animal welfare groups: the Japan SPCA, the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS), Japan Pet Care Association and the Japan Veterinary Medical Association.

    Emergency meetings were convened to confirm the division of tasks. The collection of relief money began on March 14 and aid was requested from pet food and pet product companies.

    JAWS was responsible for the immediate organisation of foster homes for animals of those who had evacuated with their pets.

    On May 24, DrYamaguchi, the Chief Vet of JAWS, met with the prefecture authorities and Vet Association at the evacuation centre in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture and accepted their request to cooperate in establishing the Fukushima Prefecture Headquarters for Animal Rescue. A website for the HQ was launched on May 25.

    JAWS was in charge of accepting donations and support from overseas animal welfare organisations, including WSPA, Humane Society International and SPCA Hong Kong, all of whom who had donated to the ADRT. It made several visits to disaster stricken areas (Morioka city of Iwate prefecture, Sendai city and Ishinomaki city of Miyagi prefecture, and Korioyama city and Fukushima city of Fukushima prefecture) providing advice and financial support to each animal shelter operating in the areas. 

    JAWS also held a series of meetings with Ministry of Environment and local government officials of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to discuss and organise support systems, mechanisms and the supply of manpower for maintaining shelter work.

    On May 10 a temporary “returning home” project was started at the 20 km radius zone of Fukushima Prefecture. Up to 20 animals were rescued daily from the contaminated area. ADRT made a request to the Fukushima government to be allowed to enter the area to rescue animals left behind, but their request was turned down. The team was obliged to work from a contact point just outside the radioactive area to examine, treat and decide where to send theses animals (to shelters or local veterinary hospitals).

    As the first shelter was already full with Fukushima animals, discussions began on June 11 about building a second shelter. In those areas without radiation issues, such as Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures, things worked extremely well. Financed by donated money, non-governmental animal welfare groups, local veterinary organisations and local government cooperated closely to take care of rescued animals.

    JAWS’s main concern was to drive the effort to care for animals rescued from the contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture.

    With the first shelter already operating at its capacity of 150 (100 dogs, 50 cats), plans were drawn up for a new shelter for 130 animals. Tokyo city also launched a plan to build a temporary shelter in Tokyo to help animal victims of Fukushima and other districts. HQ built a small, temporary shelter in Fukushima housing 50 to 60 animals, operated by an HQ crew and financed by donation money, while the second shelter was under construction.

    JAWS sent research staff to each prefecture to audit the latest situation with animal rescue work and how the donation money was being used. The cost of building the second shelter in Fukushima became a big issue because of shortage of funds.

    As of September 1, a total of 530,000,000 yen had been received in donations. JAWS received 60 requests for funds from various animal welfare groups and local government offices, including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The amount requested totalled about 550,000,000 yen. Of this, 185,000 yen has already been distributed and a further 255,000,000 yen will be given out soon.

    Money donated, including that collected by the SPCA Hong Kong, was mainly used to build temporary shelters, supply medicine and to pay operating costs of shelters: staff costs (including veterinary), rent, electricity, gas, transportation, office supplies, communication costs and rent.

    A total of 541animals has so far been saved from the 20 km Fukushima prefecture radius area. Ishinomaki shelter has rescued more than 100 animals and is currently taking care of 75 animals. Iwaki shelter (also in Fukushima prefecture) has rescued and cared for 78 animals.

    JAWS anticipates that another 18 months is needed to complete the animal rescue work in east Japan. On behalf of JAWS we sincerely thank the people of Hong Kong for their kindness and support. 


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