The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has defended its decision to kill a stray dog which boarded a cargo ship in Thailand and landed in Hong Kong. It said the four-day observation period for stray animals does not apply to “illegally imported animals.”
The dog was taken away after the AFCD received a request for help from a shipping company on Monday and Tuesday, saying that an unidentified dog had been found on a cargo ship arriving from Laem Chabang port. After finding no microchip or relevant identity or health documents, the AFCD considered the dog a suspect originating from an area with a rabies outbreak, and euthanised it on Tuesday.
Bobo, the sister of the dog’s Thai owner who lives in Hong Kong, had called the AFCD to take back the dog when she heard of the news, but the AFCD refused.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong and Bobo have criticised the action, saying that according to existing procedures, the AFCD should wait for four days before conducting euthanasia, in order to allow time for the owner to claim the stray animal.
But in a further reply to HKFP, AFCD said the four-day observation period only applied to local stray animals, and not illegally imported animals.
“The relevant case is a special incident. The AFCD will review the procedures for unique cases different from normal [cases of] illegally imported animals, with a view to improving the relevant procedures,” it said.
The AFCD also said it was temporarily keeping the body of the dog, and urged people to contact it if they have information about the animal before it boarded the cargo ship.
A petition launched by lawmaker Kwong urging the AFCD to apologise has received over 30,000 signatures after less than 48 hours. Kwong said many of the signatures were from Thai people, who were angered after reading the news.
Kwong led a protest at the Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices on Friday morning: “The AFCD has yet to explain why it chose to kill the dog in less than 24 hours, without quarantining it first,” he said. “It should be taking care of the dog, not kill the dog.”
“This has become an international scandal,” he added.
May, a Thai person acting as a liaison with animal groups in Thailand, said that Thai people were furious: “It was very inhumane. We were very saddened. A dog is a life,” she said in tears. “Why did the AFCD not wait for four days for us to complete the procedures?”
She said the AFCD had invited Bobo, the owner’s sister in Hong Kong, to take the body.
“In the beginning, Bobo called the AFCD asking to take back the dog [when it was alive], the AFCD did not accept,” she said. “Why did it only call Bobo to take back the body?”