Issue 79 - 2010/05

Issue 79 - 2010/05-07


  • Tourism Cruelty     2 – 4
  • Hands Off!     5
  • China Outreach    6
  • Crustacean Sensation    7
  • Sharing the Love      8
  • Pet Adoptathon 2010     9
  • Happy Endings        10 – 11
  • SPCA files           12 – 13
  • A Man’s Job?          14
  • Vet’s Case Book       15
  • Vet Profile            16
  • Vet Facts             16
  • Amazing animal facts     18
  • Humane Education Package Reaches China and Beyond    19
  • Many Means for One End      20 – 21
  • Hello Kitty Celebrates Animal Welfare      22 – 23
  • A Night to remember      24 – 25
  • Happenings...       27
  • click here to download Issue 79 - 2010/05-07

(text only version)

  • Tourism Cruelty                                                  2 – 4

    There is often a cruel side to what appears as innocent family fun. Be aware of your holiday choices.

    “The unnatural tricks they are made to perform… can cause great physical discomfort” 

    Before you go on your next holiday, think of your entertainment choices and the animal welfare footprint of your visits. Across Asia Pacific there are many tourist attractions that exploit wild animals and sea mammals so that families can take a photo touch, interact or watch them perform trick.

    Animals used in this way have no choice in their lives or control over their environments, and their living conditions are often well below acceptable standards, resulting in poor welfare.


    Animal Shows: Cruelty Parading As Entertainment

    Animals forced into entertainment in circus-style shows, such as dancing elephants, golfing orang utans, and fire-hoop jumping tigers, may in fact endure enormous stress and pain. Training methods may include food deprivation and physical punishment. The unnatural tricks they are made to perform, such as elephants standing on their front legs and dolphins being made to come out of the water onto the land, can cause great physical discomfort.

    The truth is, show animals are often kept in poor living conditions when not performing, commonly housed in small, barren cages or tanks, away from visitor view. Monkeys may be tethered by neck or waist chains and elephants may be shackled by leg chains, severely restricting their movement. Often for performing animals their only time away from these miserable conditions is show time.

    Watching animals performing unnatural tricks in animal shows teaches nothing about their natural behaviour, and instead gives the audience, especially children, the misleading impression that animals are ‘clowns’ to be laughed at, rather than fellow sentient beings who should be treated with dignity and respect.


    Photography Sessions: No Fun for the Animals

    Animals including tigers, orang utans and monkeys are used for photography and petting sessions. Like animal shows, this practice is mainly fuelled by tourist demand.

    Adult animals may be tethered by chains for the whole day and may even be drugged to keep them docile. Their teeth and claws may be painfully removed. They may handled roughly and beaten to make them ‘pose’, often behind the scenes but sometimes in full view. 

    Baby animals are often permanently taken from their mothers for photography sessions, passed from person to person over and over again, causing them untold stress.

    When not being used, photography animals may be kept in small, barren cages, or chained up, often out of sight. Social animals may be kept alone. Such living conditions deny these animals any of their basic needs and prevent them from engaging in natural behaviours, causing them to experience stress and poor welfare.


    How Do We Know That The Animals Are Suffering?

    Sometimes we may see captive animals performing strange behaviours, such as pacing or swimming the same route over and over again, swaying from side to side, rocking, biting the bars of their cages, and even biting themselves (self-mutilation). Such abnormal behaviours are called stereotypiecs- behaviour patterns that are invariant in style, performed repetitively, and appear to have no function.

    Stereotypies are widely recognised as a clear indication that an animal is living in or has been living in suboptimal conditions and occur when animals have failed to cope with or remove themselves from stressful situations.

    Sometimes, animals used in “entertainment” will succumb to stress-related diseases. This is particularly true of captive dolphins, who have been known to die of stress-related heart attacks and gastritis.

    Often though, there may not be any outward visible signs that the animals are suffering, and much of the suffering is hidden from view.


    What You Can Do to Help End the Exploitation of Wild Animals

    As a tourist, you can make sure that your money does not support this suffering, by refusing to buy a ticket to any animal shows featuring unnatural behaviours, by not taking your photograph with or engaging in ‘petting sessions’ with wild animals, and avoiding riding on elephants.


    You can also:

    Encourage your friends and family to be animal-friendly tourists when on holiday.

    Check your tour itinerary does not involve cruelty to animals. If it does, tell your travel agent you do not wish to go to places involved in such cruelty. Ask your agent to propose cruelty-free alternatives.

    Ensure that your hotel does not display any wild animals. If you are at a hotel or resort that does, express your disapproval in writing to the management.

    If your hotel promotes facilities which exploit wild animals, express your disapproval in writing, and request that they stop promoting such facilities. If you see travel agencies promoting such facilities, write to them expressing your concern. If you see instances of animal cruelty, record what you have seen through photos or videotape, but never pay to take such pictures. Make sure to record the date, time, location, type and number of animals involved. Find out if there are any local animal welfare societies you can contact if an animal needs help.

    If you see wild animals being exploited whilst on holiday, write to the tourism authority of the country and the local Ambassador of that country when you return and make them aware of your concerns. Write to the management of the facility too, politely expressing your disapproval and request for them to make changes to improve the welfare of the animals.

    Visit and support facilities which help animals, such as wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centres.


    Phajaan: breaking an elephant’s soul

    Travelling across Thailand, tourists often encounter the gentle giants, elephants that pose for pictures, beg for food or dance at shows. Have you ever wondered how they have become so docile and obedient? The answer is in a cruel ceremony called phajaan.

    Infant elephants are snatched from their mothers and forced into a cage so small that they cannot turn around. Their leg is chained so that they cannot move. For the next three to four days, they are brutally beaten, yelled at, denied food, water and sleep. The separation from his mother, the pain, the deprivation, the frightening surroundings terrify the elephant so much that it breaks his spirit for life. He is never allowed to meet his mother again.

    After the phajaan, harsh training using the ankus, a rod with a sharp hook, awaits the elephant as he is “trained” at severe pain, to perform tricks, dance to music or be ridden upon. 


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  • Hands Off!                                                          5

    Let Wild Animals Stay Wild

    “In our perception that our wild animals face a food shortage it is often the ‘feeders’ that are creating the excess population”

    The recent incidents involving wild boars in North Point poses an interesting and difficult question for the government; how do you separate humans from wild life in an amiable and humane manner, without resorting to drastic measures.

    We are all familiar with macaques at Golden Hill. These once gentle animals have over the years spread to larger territories and openly become more aggressive in their behaviour. Government legislation against the feeding of monkeys has been largely ineffective, and ignored. The macaques have been conditioned to recognise humans as a food source, often with frightening consequences.

    This highlights the conflict of human interaction with animals in Hong Kong. Although usually well intentioned, in our perception that our wild animals face a food shortage it is often the ‘feeders’ that are creating the excess populations. This energy is transformed into offspring and unnatural interactions which lead to increased competition for resources; food, space and mates.A normal population has mostly individuals in good condition and a fertility and longevity that match the environmental realities. It is not composed of animals breeding wildly while on the brink of starvation. We inadvertently and irreversibly set a vicious cycle of dependence in motion.     

    Fortunately in Hong Kong, much of our country parks are protected by ordinances against development, however the encroachment of urbanisation and the increasing popularity of outdoor pursuits such as hiking, or picnicking, have become major contributors towards this vicious cycle. There are no easy solutions to the problem. The Agricultural and Fisheries Conservation Department is running a programme to effectively neuter as many macaques as possible in an attempt to slow the growth of the population. Such actions are long term. In the meantime, it is imperative that park visitors restrain from intervening in wild animal ecology such as disturbing their habitat, upsetting their food chain or even playing with them or attracting their attention. Respect and appreciation for wild life can be enhanced by following these guidelines:

    Leave wild animals wild. They have a right to exist as animals, not as an extension of our desires. 

    They are perfectly fine looking for their own food and taking care of themselves, even it it means working hard for food when seasons are meager, getting wet when it rains, and cold in winter, suffering from otherwise treatable diseases. Don’t feel sorry for them, they have done fine for millions of years and will continue if we allow it.

    Interfer with them less, preserve their environments, keep corridors between country parks open, eliminate  barriers such as unnecessary railings and walls - respect our wilderness and the concept of wilderness. 

    Refrain from human–animal interactions. respect their territories and stay on trails and footpaths.

    Be a zero impact visitor. Leave nothing in the country park, especially trash and leftovers.   


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  • China Outreach                                                  6

    China Law Reform To Improve Animal Welfare 

    “In just a few short years, animal welfare and the prevention of cruelty has become a matter of great importance… in China”

    The Proposed enactment of Prevention of Cruelty laws and licencing of vet surgeons herald a wave of change in animal welfare for China.

    In March 2010, representatives from SPCA(HK) attended an historic International Forum on Chinese Legislation for the Protection and Management of Animals in Beijing. The 180 participants included academics and animal welfare representatives from across China as well as a cross section of international animal welfare representatives and animal welfare law experts.

    The forum served as the unveiling of the first ever “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law of the PRC” (Experts Draft Proposal).  This is a draft proposal which requires finalising and then presenting to the National People’s Congress.  There is still a very long way to go, but it is with a sense of anticipation that something that started as a small meeting and personal introductions three years ago has grown to become the first Draft Animal Welfare (anti- cruelty law) for China.

    This remarkable achievement is largely due to the inspiring Chang Jiwen, Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Law, and his team of academics who have had the vision and have worked so hard on this project.  It was very much to their credit that they encouraged and welcomed input from those present on the many very complicated issues that needed to be addressed. Admittedly it is only a first step, but it is a very big one and there is now certainly just cause for an era of hope and optimism ahead.

    At the same time, a trial run of the Licensing Examination for Practising Veterinary Surgeons, which took place in 2009, has paved the way for the official launch of the examination throughout China this year. The examination was established to regulate the practice of veterinary surgeons, improving their skills and ethical standards, and to improve animal care and public safety. Veterinary surgeons will also be required to seek continuous education and training.

    Professor Tang Zhaoxin, Associate Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, told the SPCA that the design of the examination is based on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination and includes both theory and clinical skills tests. He expects about 200,000 candidates to sit the two-day examination.


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  • Crustacean Sensation                                        7

    New evidence that crustaceans feel and respond to pain

    It has always been held that lower life forms such as crabs, prawns and fish are unable to feel pain as they do not have a neocortex, the part of the brain in mammals that detect these stimuli.

    In a landmark study by Richard Elwood of the School of Biological Sciences at the Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, hermit crabs are subject to mild irritation to observe their response. These crustaceans are usually very possessive of their shells, and when faced with threats, withdraw deep into them. Elwood applied a mild electric shock on the crabs. The crabs reaction was to abandon their shell for less suitable alternatives nearby, and to groom themselves in “a protective motor reaction, viewed as a sign of pain in vertebrates. 

    The complex response showed that when hurt, the crabs displayed a relatively complex reaction that can be described as more than just a “simple reflex. “ 

    The experiment followed on the heels of a previous one by Elwood. To observe whether prawns react selectively to stimuli, he swabbed one antennae of the subject prawns with diluted acetic acid. The prawn immediately treated its affected antennae, but not the others. Elwood believed that this was “consistent with an interpretation of pain experience. “

    As crustaceans have a different nervous system to ours, while it may be reasonable to assume that they don’t feel pain in same the way we do, we do know that they feel something and it is likely that with the scientific studies continuing that animal welfare science will eventually provide us a far better understanding in this area.

    There is a great deal that has not been discovered about these amazing creatures and the way they respond to their environment, feel or even think. We are only beginning to start to understand that they are much more complex than we ever imagined.  In the meantime, enough reason already exists, for them to be treated humanely and respectfully.

    For an interesting crustacean account, watch the legendary lady of the ocean, Dr. Sylvia Earle recounting her Encounter with a Lobster. It will certainly set you thinking!


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  • Sharing the Love                                                 8

    The wonderful thing about love is that it goes around. What follows are three amazing stories of very special dogs who lend a helping paw or ear for their neighbours.



    Bobby’s story is one of small size and big heart. As a volunteer with Dr. Dog, Bobby not only entertains the seniors at old folks’ homes, but get them touching and hugging him, bring moments of laughter and joy.

    Randy has been a dog lover since childhood and believes that dogs give as much back to their owners as they receive.  However, dogs have unique personality quirks which require patience and acceptance to bring out their best.  So after reading up on the breed, Bobby was selected for his strength and size but not necessarily for any specific personality characteristics.

    Something about Bobby encourages people in the elderly centres to approach him, to ask questions. Even those normally immobile want to move in for a closer look.  To see the disabled respond to her dog is all the thanks that Randy ever needs. 



    When we keep emphasising that our animals for adoption are to provide companionship only, Rebecca our PR Manager gives a new dimension to a long-stay mongrel she adopted four years ago. Besides becoming a canine companion to the many feline family members, Dede-Sau also enrolled himself to volunteer for the Green Animals Education Foundation (GAEF) and has since made 15 visits to schools and elderly homes, spreading the message that animals are our faithful companions and they deserve to be loved and respected.

    Dede-Sau also made himself one of the forerunners of the Mongrel Club Ambassador Team, whose members made their first elderly home visit last October, showing a full array of mongrels that came in varying sizes and coat colours, yet all showing wonderful personalities. The team also went on stage in Park Island and Mui Wo, “wowing” visitors with their agility skills and high degree of obedience. “Seeing is believing”. Rebecca trusts that the more exposure Dede-Sau and his fellow mongrel friends gain, the more people can witness that Mongrels are no longer aggressive and unruly. In actual fact they make great companions!


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  • Pet Adoptathon 2010                                          9

    81 Animals Adopted!

    May 1 and 2 marks the annual Pet Adoptathon at SPCA and 10 other participating shelters. Once again, our centres are decked out with colourful buntings and posters encouraging visitors to consider getting a pet during this weekend.

    This year’s adoptathon is particularly important for us as adoption figure for dogs has dipped an alarming 26 percent compared to last year. Part of the reasons was the financial tsunami affected many people’s decision to keep a part, especially where jobs were not particularly secure. In addition other organisations also reported an increase in the numbers of dogs given up, and saw a large number of pedigrees, especially with expatriates returning home. 

    Our centres saw 2,400 visitors come by, and 81 animals found new homes, thanks to this event. We wish them all the best, and hopefully many more visitors will return after the event to adopt animals, especially our long stayers.


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  • Happy Endings                                                   10 – 11

    The following are winning entries in the “Second Chance for Love”

    Adoption Stories Competition jointly organized by Hills Pet Nutrition and SPCA.



    Owner: Sam LI

    6 years ago, I changed KenKen’s life forever. I was trying to select from all the available dogs at SPCA. Is it the size, breed, colour, or character? “Dad, over here! I am KenKen, I am a good dog, I know commands like “sit”!” Kenken expressed herself with her expression and body language. After interacting with her for a while, I decided to adopt KenKen. I remember when the SPCA staff brought me the documents, KenKen grabbed them and danced around in circles, as if telling the other dogs, “Hey! I found a home!” 

    KenKen is now seven, and has shared life’s ups and downs with us. Although KenKen does not understand life and death, her sweet looks and wagging tail has given us lots of consolation. She does not have a luxury home nor brand name products, nor has she flown in aeroplanes or taken acruise, but she has a home and a family who loves her.

    When friends ask me, why do you not adopt a pure breed, I reply, “it is fate that put us together. Her understanding of us is beyond words.” We believe that adoption is about respecting and caring for lives, not about a brand status. And we will take care of her like our child for the rest of her life. Man can decide whether to have offsprings, animals cannot. Let me salute SPCA for its work. These animals’ lives have depended on the staff’s dedication and efforts. My heart goes out to the homeless animals who look are hoping for someone to take care of them. They do not need much, in fact all they want are a simple meal and a roof, and love for life. I hope that homeless animals everywhere can find owners who will give them a second chance in life.



    Owner: Louisa Cantley

    As I write, I have an oversized puppy on my lap and another at my feet - Sophie and Maya; two shy mixed-breeds who were fortunate enough to have been rescued by the SPCA in 2007 and 2009. They sleep in my bed, on the sofa, take taxis to the Peak and frequently go to restaurants in Soho, simply for their own enjoyment.

    I recently returned from England where I said goodbye to my 13 year old German Shepherd who had a stroke; without doubt the most harrowing and exhausting experience of my life. People ask why I go to such lengths for them. The answer is simply because their happiness lies in my hands. They’re always there for me no matter what I need – whether it’s an excuse to go for a hike and meet new dogs, or a quiet Sunday evening at home watching a movie. With lives so much shorter than ours and the love, calm and companionship they bring us, isn’t it worth it?

    Consider the thousands of animals that are disposed of by their so-called owners each year in Hong Kong; abandoned to deteriorate in yards, surrendered to the AFCD or SPCA, and even left in the streets. These animals have most certainly done nothing wrong, their unfortunate situations, personalities and behaviour merely shaped by the people they’ve encountered. 

    Consider the animals that help us every day: guide dogs, rescue dogs, police horses and therapy dogs – they reserve recognition for their service to our world. Don’t forget the animals of war; horses, camels, even dogs, pigeons and bats were strapped to bombs – they didn’t understand and they had no choice. 

    Awareness is helping to salvage some of the terrible damage we’ve already done and education is proving to bring about a better coexistence. It’s up to us to continue along this route. Sophie and Maya bring me endless laughter and joy. I know their day will come, so I appreciate every moment I have with them. Please take time each day to be kind and spend time with the animals you’re fortunate to be around because you never know how much longer they’ll be with you. You are their voice; don’t let them down.



    Owner: KIT SHAN CHAN

    Marco has been living at a kennel for over five months. No one asked about him. Because he is not a pure breed, he lost out on chances of adoption.  Like all other animals there, Marco just wants to have a home. That chance came in September 2007 when he met his owner. Did Marco change his owner’s life, or did the owner change Marco’s?  The days together increased our mutual understanding. In the owner’s eyes Marco seems like a human, self centred, unruly, stubborn and naughty.

    This discovery was a shock at first. But by taking heart to understand the root of the problem, finding solutions and good training, Marco has turned into a lovely dog. Although Marco, with his muscular body and deep voice, will be best suited as a watchdog, his owner saw a beauty and goodness in him that would be wasted as such. Also the owner believe that adoption means giving an animal a home, not a job. 

    Marco with his beautiful character, now a constant visitor to children’s and old folks’ home. Some people’s attitude towards a pet is that it is a toy, and ignore the animal’s feelings. Marco shows me that, he and others like him, are willing to be a loyal companion to their owners for life.


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  • SPCA files                                                          12 – 13

    Over the past three months from December 2009 to February 2010, the Inspectorate received a total of 10,557 calls and handled 1,279 animals. SPCA Inspectors rescued 488 animals, investigated 295 complaints, and conducted inspections of 167 pet shops and 281 wet markets.


    December (Prosecuted)

    A person was prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for leaving a dying dog with a wound on one of the legs in backyard of an unattended village house in Shatin without proper care.


    December (Convicted)

    Regarding the prosecution case reported in the last issue of PawPrint that a person was prosecuted for cruelty to a dog in So Kwun Wat, the defendant was convicted at the Tuen Mun Magistracy on three counts of animal cruelty and fined $3,000.


    January (Prosecuted)

    Another person was prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for leaving 4 dogs and one rabbit in an unattended village house in Lok Ma Chau resulting in the death of one rabbit and the other malnourished or wounded.


    January (Convicted)

    Regarding the prosecution case reported in the last issue of PawPrint that a person was prosecuted for cruelty to 2 dogs in Yuen Long, the defendant was convicted at the Tuen Mun Magistracy on fours counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 160 hours Community Service Order.


    January (Prosecuted)

    Another person was prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for leaving a sick dog in front yard of a village house in Sai Kung without proper care.


    December (Rescued)

    This Black Kite found lying on roadside outside Shing Mun Tunnel in Tsuen Wan was rescued by SPCA inspector and taken to Kadoorie Farm for treatment.


    December (Rescued)

    This Falcon, found on the ground in a village in Sai Kung, was rescued by SPCA inspector and taken to Kadoorie Farm after receiving primary treatment at a SPCA hospital.


    December (Rescued)

    This Barred Owlet with an injury on its right eye was rescued by SPCA inspector in a village in Kwu Tung and taken to Kadoorie Farm after receiving primary treatment at a SPCA hospital.


    December (Rescued)

    This dog has a leash twisted on a small tree in a forest in Sai Kung. It was rescued by SPCA inspector and was later returned to its owner.


    December (Rescued)

    A Water Monitor was found wandering in a wholesale market in Cheung Sha Wan. It was rescued by SPCA inspector and taken to the AFCD Animal Management Centre for rehabilitation and care.


    January (Rescued)

    A cat found staying on a drying rack outside the window of a flat of a residential building in Ma On Shan was rescued by SPCA inspector and taken to SPCA hospital for custody and care.


    January (Rescued)

    A dog lying on West Kowloon Highway outside Nam Cheong Station, Sham Shui Po was rescued by SPCA inspector. The rescue was made possible with the help of The Police. The dog was sent to SPCA hospital for veterinary treatment.


    January (Rescued)

    A dog trapped in water catchment in Tsuen Wan was rescued by SPCA inspectors to safety place. The dog ran away afterwards.


    February (Rescued)

    A cat trapped at the fast lane of Fanling Highway was rescued by SPCA inspector. The rescue was made possible with the help of The Police. The cat was taken to SPCA hospital for veterinary treatment.


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  • A Man’s Job?                                                      14

    Kwok Yin Ling is one of the few female Inspectors at SPCA. When asked what motivates her, Ling, as she is commonly known, shares her two passions about the Inspector position.

    The first is making improvements in the lives of animals and the second is raising the level of awareness in our society. Ling started her career with the SPCA in 2004 as a hotline operator before joining the Inspectorate in 2008 and rising to senior rank last year. In addition to the normally heavy workload of the job, Ling also coordinates the Cadet Inspector Project.

    Ling really enjoys the diversity offered in her position but does concede that sometimes a bit more brute strength would be handy. Her energy and diligence are a plus when a frightened cat needs to be coaxed off a high-rise ledge, but are not always sufficient when muscle is required.

    However, everyone agrees that what Ling lacks in physical prowess she more than compensates for with intelligence and an uncanny ability to get bystanders to help out. This intrepid Inspector shares, “I always get a hand from members of the public at a scene.” It is possible that people are more willing to offer assistance to a woman than to a man or maybe she just knows how to ask!

    While Ling laments that a small group of individuals “just don’t give a damn” about animals, most people are either ill informed but teachable, or truly kindhearted. Many owners are simply unaware that their treatment is harsh or neglectful, but with a little patience and guidance they quickly learn how to care for their pet.

    Of course, the most effective place to begin shaping new societal attitudes is through our youth and that is where the Cadet programme comes into play. Ling treasures the opportunity to shape the perceptions of enthusiastic youngsters but must sometimes do so on their terms – through Facebook… Here the Inspector follows up with her “students” and encourages them to be a voice for animals. If we can get children to “recognise and embrace the idea of harmonious living with all creatures”, we move everyone in that direction.


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  • Vet’s Case Book                                                 15

    Cruciate Injury in an 8 Year Old Mongrel. 

    “Jimbom” presented at our Hong Kong hospital having ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) four months previously. 

    The ACL is a ligament that prevents forward and backward instability in the knee.Current thinking is that this ligament weakens due to low grade arthritis in the joint, leading to stretching, partial tearing or sudden rupture. With ensuing instability the rate of arthritis and pain rapidly escalates, leading to chronic lameness and muscle wasting.

    The most common surgical option is replacing the damaged ACL with a prosthetic nylon implant, which effectively performs the same function as the ligament. This nylon will always eventually snap, usually after several months, but will hopefully stabilize the joint until sufficient scar tissue has developed to support the knee naturally. Unfortunately this is not always the case and some dogs do not recover as well as one could hope.

    More recent advances in the field have led to a new group of surgeries designed to reduce the angle of the top of the tibia, the tibial plateau. In dogs this is far more sloped than in the human, with a tendency for the femur to thereby slide down it- an action that is normally prevented by the ACL. By reducing this angle we can stop this force and thereby effectively stabilize the knee.

    These surgeries are complicated and invasive and generally reserved for dogs in which the nylon has been used without success and heavier dogs, where a nylon implant has more chance of snapping or ripping. There is still much debate as to whether tibial plateau leveling procedures have a better long-term outcome than the simpler nylon implant, but they have been performed routinely for the last decade.

    At the time of initial injury, ACL rupture was correctly diagnosed in “Jimbom”, and a nylon implant placed. Unfortunately due to his weight and loosening of the suture, instability was still present 4 months after the injury, with arthritis having developed. He was still markedly lame and had lost significant muscle mass through lack of use. He was considered a suitable candidate for a Triple Tibial Osteotomy (TTO), and the surgery was performed without complication. Three weeks later his lameness had significantly improved, and 2 months post-surgery had completely resolved, with muscle mass starting to return.


    Dr Tony Matthews


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  • Vet Profile                                                           16

    Dr. Judith Benjafield
    TITLE: Veterinary Surgeon
    NATIONALITY: South African



    Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Pretoria, South Africa. Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS), UK.


    After qualifying as a veterinarian in South Africa, I worked in a private practice in England for two years. With a passion for travelling and living in foreign countries, I then moved to Hong Kong where I have been working both in private practice and as a locum for the SPCA. Having seen both sides of veterinary practice, I am very glad to be joining the SPCA on a full-time basis in March 2010. As such, I can enjoy the variety of challenges the SPCA has to offer in both regular veterinary work and welfare initiatives. 

    I enjoy soft tissue surgery and feline medicine, and I am currently enhancing my knowledge and skills with a course in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. As part of my quest to visit as many places in South East Asia as possible, I like to take part in volunteer work in less privileged countries whenever the opportunity arises. Outside of work I enjoy reading, painting, kayaking and soaking up nature as well as trying everything at least once!


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  • Vet Facts                                                             16

    Dogs get bad backs too! 

    Just like us, dogs have discs sandwiched between each vertebra (spinal bone). These discs have a tough outer layer and a softer inner layer (the nucleus), which acts as shock absorber, but sometimes the outer layer ruptures and the nucleus pushes upwards or sideways compressing the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.

    Predisposed breeds include the Dachshund, Bichon Frise, Pekingese and Shih Tzu.

    About 75% of all disc ruptures occur in the mid-back region, with the rest mainly in the neck.

    Signs of disc disease vary with severity and location in the spine. A mild rupture may only cause slight pain, but severe ruptures can cause irreversible paralysis, with most cases falling somewhere in between.


    Physical signs of disc disease include:

    • Trembling, whining, or crying out.
    • An arched back.
    • Reluctance to move, jump up or climb stairs.
    • An unstable or wobbly gait (walk).
    • Toes knuckling under or feet dragging.
    • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
    • Inability to use the legs (paralysis).

    These signs can progress rapidly from mild pain to an unstable gait to loss of bowel and bladder control and paralysis. While dogs with pain alone often respond well to rest and pain-killers, in deteriorating animals surgery is indicated as soon as possible, ideally within 48 hours.

    Plain X-rays will not generally diagnose this condition although they can be suggestive. Definitive diagnosis is by MRI (or special contrast radiography) allowing exact pinpointing of any lesion, a vital step prior to any surgery.

    Remember if in doubt consult with your veterinary surgeon!


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  • Amazing animal facts                                          18

    Da Vinci was an Animal Advocate!

    History reveals that Leonardo Da Vinci, probably the world’s greatest inventor, may be the world’s most famous vegetarian. In a letter written by Corsali to Leonardo’s patron Medici, “Certain people called Guzzarati (Hindus) do not feed upon anything that contains blood, nor do they permit among them any injury be done to any living thing, like our Leonardo da Vinci.” Further manuscripts indicated that Da Vinci will often buy birds from the market and release them, and his own writings argue about the ethics of exploitation and cruelty to animals.


    How many whiskers does a cat have?

    According to Desmond Morris in Catwatching, cats have an average of 24 whiskers, with 12 on each side, arranged in 4 horizontal rows. Whiskers serve as feels and air current detectors to help cats maneuver in the dark


    Do dogs get car sick?

    Just like us, dogs do get motion sickness. You can tell when your dog starts feeling listless, yawning or uneasiness sets in.

    Having your dog sit facing forward helps, as with lowering the windows a bit to balance the air pressure between the outside and the inside of the car, and making sure the car is well ventilated and cool.


    Does a fish think?

    Yes, according to Culum Brown, a biologist at Edinburgh University. Brown believes that they are “steeped in social intelligence” and resort to “manipulation, punishment and reconciliation”, including obeying a social hierarchy, use tools or find their ways through obstacles. In another study by the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh, rainbow trouts are identified to have receptors which can feel pressure or heat. These fish show complex responses to harmful substance such as rocking or rubbing, which indicate that the behaviour are not simple reflexes.


    How intelligent is a pig?

    Pigs excel in video games with joysticks. In an experiment to train pigs to move cursors on a video screen, pigs were able to identify fresh markings from previously viewed ones. They picked up the skills as fast as primates, and probably faster than a 3 year old child.


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  • Humane Education Package Reaches China and Beyond      19

    Asian countries keen to use the SPCA Humane Education package

    The Humane Education Package consisting of a series of independent chapters covering the natural world, the animal kingdom and treatment of animals. Practical issues such as handling and greeting of animals, why zoos and circuses can be cruel to animals and the concept of animal welfare are clearly addressed. The package is divided into primary and secondary school sections, each chapter comes with powerpoint slides, exercises and case studies or examples, so that teachers can provide a fun-filled yet thought provoking session for students.

    The package was a teaching aid. Presented at the Asia for Animals Conference in Singapore in March 2010. In March 2010, our Education Manager Vivian Chiu and Deputy Director (China Outreach), Twiggy Cheung arrived in Xiamen to share SPCA(HK)’s experiences on humane education. During the visit, we introduced the Humane Education package, an off-the-shelf teaching kit for primary and secondary schools to the delegates present.

    The Humane Education Package was widely praised by attendees, and delegates from many countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Taiwan expressed keen interest in using it.

    38 teachers representing 14 primary schools attended the workshop as Vivian showed them how to best use the materials to pass on a meaningful and interactive message about caring for animals and respect for life. Using the Humane Education Package, teachers can tailor class sessions on specific topics or to use the entire set as a term project. 5 primary schools and 9 secondary schools have signed up for a trial run using the package. During the workshop, participating schools signed a memorandum to indicate their commitment to promote Humane Education at their schools using SPCA(HK) materials.

    The workshop enabled open interaction of ideas and many teachers came forward with interesting ways of using the materials. There was warm support from the Xiamen Government as well. The

    Humane Education Package was nominated by the Xiamen Social Science Association to represent the city in the 3rd China Civilized City Competition. The head of the Xiamen Education Bureau Ethics Department has also pledged his support for humane education and offered constructive suggestions on rolling out the programme to more schools.


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  • Many Means for One End                                   20 – 21

    SPCA uses different channels to reach young people to change attitudes towards animals.

    One of SPCA’s key missions is to spread the message of concern for animals. Our education team, performs this task in truly innovative ways, believing that the best way of changing attitudes is through personal experience with animals.

    Immersing children in an animal welfare environment is one way of achieving this. Over Easter, we partnered with the YMCA of Hong Kong to conduct a three-day camp for children aged from 8 to 12 years. The only camp in Hong Kong open to the public to focus primarily on animal welfare, it featured a combination of lectures based on SPCA’s Humane Education package and children’s activities such as constructing an animal from leaves, visiting SPCA’s Wanchai premises and learning how to interact with a dog.

    The partnership was well received. “YMCA offers a lot of camps for kids, but this is certainly something special. Vivian and her team were able to share their expertise on animal welfare, which the kids took to heart and learned, all the while, a great experience with the games and activities,” said Andrew Sponagle, Camp Manager at YMCA Hong Kong.

    When a lecturer from the Institute of Vocational Education, Bavy Li, wanted an innovative final year project for her computer students, SPCA was quick to offer its education website as a platform. The students’ tasks were three-fold: to design a new look for the education web page, to produce a series of games based on responsible pet ownership and to create promotional films on animal care using computer graphics imagery.

    Over eight months, the Education team, together with IVE’s lecturer, coached the student teams on each of the projects. On April 19, the fruits of their labour were finally unveiled at a press conference at the Institute and uploaded onto the SPCA’s website.

    “The students gained a lot by working on the project. They not only learned more about responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, but also had the opportunity to work on a real life project to be viewed and appreciated by the public,” said Bavy Li.

    In addition to projects and camps, the SPCA conducts talks at SPCA premises and at schools. In fact, each year we host over 280 such talks, reaching about 20,000 school children. These talks and tours afford us the opportunity to better understand the issues that are important to today’s young people and to see the world through their eyes. Our contact with teachers also gives us the chance to explore the most effective ways to pass on the messages of compassion, animal welfare and responsible pet ownership to students.

    The highlight of each trip is the visit to the animals in the homing department. This is a vital part of familiarising children with creatures they may regularly encounter in their normal environments. When they spend time meeting and petting our dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals, they learn about respect, about abandonment and the joys of animal adoption. 

    However this experiential part of the visit is always balanced by the lectures we offer. The lectures are carefully designed to tap into a child’s curiosity and help them recognise the ways in which they interconnect with the natural world. The talks address animal subjects, but they also bring themes like kindness and compassion into the minds of the children. It is important that the kennel visits are reinforced by these key messages, otherwise the experience would be like a trip to the zoo and no more.


    For information about SPCA school talks, please contact our Education Department on 2232 5541


    Interactive Games inspire Animal Awareness

    Thanks to students at the Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee), the education web pages now feature a new look and several new activities to pique children’s curiosities. Using Japanese-style animation and cheerful, lively background music, the games bring a fresh feel to the site and help as a teaching aid for teachers as well. The primary target group for these games is kindergarten and primary school students.


    Snow and Husky” is a game that encourages players to think about the responsibilities of taking care of a pet. Along the lines of the popular Tamagotchi game, players assume the role of a dog owner, giving the dog attention by feeding, playing with and caring for it.


    Animal Monopoly” is similar in concept to the famous board game. Players pick up points by answering questions on animal care as they move about the screen. This game helps teach players about important concepts such as exercising or feeding a pet.


    In contrast, “Jumping Ferret” is a simple reflex game where the ferret has to hop over obstacles and barriers in its search for food. Interestingly, the setting is a city scene, and hopefully the ferret can find its way home.


    Please also take a look at the short films on the site. “The heart to love the pet” and “Can you hear me?” are both digital films featuring computer graphics imagery, while “Anyone to watch over me” is a touching story about caring for a cat.


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  • Hello Kitty Celebrates Animal Welfare                22 – 23

    SPCA is to mark April 13 each year as Blue Ribbon Day.

    Kicking off the Blue Ribbon Day with a ceremony at Festival Walk on April 1, 2010, Hello Kitty appeared on stage with Gigi Fu, the president of SPCA, Tony Ho, Chief Officer of SPCA Inspectorate and Kary Ng, celebrity singer. Kary was officially appointed as the Ambassador for the SPCA x Hello Kitty Blue Ribbon Day, to help spread the message of love for animals. At the same time, Hello Kitty was appointed as an Ambassador and an Honorary Inspector of SPCA.

    On April 13, the SPCA team visited participating organisations to initiate Blue Ribbon Day. The first stop was at the Canossa Primary School in Wong Tai Sin. Over 800 students and teachers gathered in the playground, together with the School Principal Ignatius To, School Supervisor Mrs. Norma Wong. “The Blue Ribbon Day is something meaningful for our students, giving them an opportunity to express their care and concern for animals,” said Mr To. In a moving speech, Tony Ho reminded students to be aware of the animals which share this planet with us.



    A special, limited edition collection of SPCA X Hello Kitty items are now available for sale at SPCA retail shops. Please get them now before they are sold out ! For orders you may also contact Fundraising Department at 2232 5543. All proceeds from the sales of these items go towards helping animals.



    Sek Gek Cher, General Manager of Antalis (Hong Kong) Ltd, was highly appreciative of the occasion. “Blue Ribbon Day gave us an opportunity to think about respect and kindness to animals, and reminds us that we share this beautiful planet with all species,” said Sek.


    Pet Max

    At Pet Max, Howard Cheung, Managing Director, gathered all his staff, including some from Causeway Bay for the kick off ceremony at his Kowloon Bay store. “We work with animals everyday, so we are definitely supportive of events that can make their lives better!” said Cheung.



    The last stop of the day was at Mars Hong Kong. It was a fitting break from work as over 40 staff listened attentively to Ho’s stories of cruelty and rescues. “I am glad to know that the SPCA is doing so much to help animals. The Blue Ribbon Day is a great event to make us all more aware and sensitive to animals in our daily lives,” said Bessie Luk, Brand Manager - Pet Care at Mars.


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  • A Night to remember                                           24 – 25

    SPCA celebrated its 88th anniversary in style, at the old Central Police Station at Hollywood Road, Central. The fact that the Central Police Station was built around the time that the SPCA was founded, and our close relationship with the Police, made this a particularly fitting venue. A column of SPCA vehicles, including the Mobile Clinic, Animal Welfare Vehicle and Inspector rescue vans, formed the grand entrance to the courtyard where the cocktail was held. 

    Dr York Chow, Secretary for Food and Health, and Mr Peter Yam Tat-Wing, Deputy Police Commissioner, were the guests of honour at the occasion. It was attended by nearly 400 members and many canine companions! We wish to thank our incredible sponsors, Gaia Group, who catered all the food for the event, Conrad Hotel which provided the amazing set up and the waiter service, Watson’s Wine Cellars for providing the wine, and Occasions PR and Marketing Ltd for organising the publicity for the evening.


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  • Happenings...                                                      27

    SPCA honours Pet Walk’s top fundraiser

    Congratulations to Janice Jensen, who raised over $20,000 to help animals during the 2010 Family Wag ‘N’ Walk at Disneyland. Janice won a weekend stay at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and a year’s supply of dog food, compliments of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Hills’ Pet Nutrition, respectively. We thank our sponsors too for their generous support


    Canine Carnival at the Pet Walk

    A new feature of the Family Wag ‘N’ Walk this year was the pet carnival. We thank all the participants of the carnival this year for making the event so successful and bringing our members and walkers very special deals on dog accessories. We also gratefully acknowledge Polly Chan of Amoretto Company for donating 2,000 bandanas to participants.


    Pet Walk showcases classic cars

    Cars from the 20s, 40s and 60s! What a sight for tired feet as walkers cross the finish line at the Family Wag ‘N’ Walk at Disneyland. It was a photographer’s dream come true as they clicked away at the lamborghini, the original mini, and that back to the future car, the delorean.


    A box of love

    What a surprise when two children walked into the fundraising office with a box of money in their hands! Since last year, Arianna Chan and Melissa Adams has been collecting her birthday money from friends at German Swiss International School and donating it to SPCA. We thank this young and generous supporter from the bottom of our hearts!


    Flag your support for animals

    June 19 is SPCA’s flag day! We are recruiting 3,500 volunteers to help us to try reach a target of $800,000 in this year’s flag day. Please help us by helping to sell flags, manage our collection stations, as a recruiter of volunteers, or simply by buying flags! Please call 2232 5543 if you can chip in!


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