(CN - HKG) Hong Kong rejects TNR
- South China Morning Post
Districts reject scheme to release neutered stray dogs
Not in our backyards, say Sai Kung, Lamma Island and Yuen Long councillors
to a plan to release neutered feral dogs in those areas
Wednesday, 02 January, 2013
Amy Nip amy.nip@...
After years of campaigning and several public consultation forums, a pilot
scheme to capture, neuter and release stray dogs has been rejected in all
three district councils involved in the plan.
Councillors in Sai Kung, Lamma Island and Yuen Long voted down the
three-year trial, citing concerns that releasing the dogs back into the wild
would endanger residents living in the area.
For the past decade, animal welfare groups have been promoting the programme
as the best way to reduce the population of stray dogs: trapping, neutering
and releasing the animals would prevent the unwanted births of more dogs,
The three-year trial - sought by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals (SPCA) and the Society for Abandoned Animals - was planned for Lo
So Shing on Lamma Island, Ha Pak Nai in Lau Fau Shan, Yuen Long, and in Sai
Kung. The proposal was presented at public consultations before being
submitted to district councils last year.
But when the time came to decide on the measure, the district councillors
either objected to or had reservations about all three proposed locations.
Many asked why stray dogs, once captured, should be released, since the
animals could endanger the public. They also said irresponsible dog owners
might dump their pets in the trial zones.
The defeat means the two animal welfare groups will have to identify new
trial sites before consulting the public again, an Agriculture, Fisheries
and Conservation Department spokeswoman said.
Sai Kung's opposition came even though its council supported the proposal in
2007. But Ling Man-hoi, the district's housing and environmental hygiene
committee chairman, said it was only support in principle and not for the
locations suggested. It is not clear how the other two district councils
voted in 2007.
At the Sai Kung meeting, councillor Philip Li Ka-leung pointed out that some
villagers disliked dogs or were scared of them. "If residents are bitten by
the dogs . it is unclear who would be held responsible."
Hygiene and safety problems could also arise if people fed the dogs, Li
added. For instance, food left out for the dogs could attract wild boars
living around Ho Chung village.
Fellow councillor Lok Shui-sang, who chairs the Sai Kung Rural Committee,
proposed that the captured dogs be sent to an uninhabited island instead.
The other two districts shared similar concerns. Islands district councillor
Chan Lin-wai said Lamma had seen about 72 cases of dog bites in the last 26
Vivian Or Wai-yin, SPCA's community dog programme co-ordinator, said
relocating the dogs to an uninhabited island was not feasible, as
transporting and hiring caretakers for them would be too expensive. "It
would turn the place into a large-scale dog shelter," she said.
Defending the proposal for the trial, Or noted that neutering the dogs would
not make the current situation any worse.
"We would not put extra dogs into the area, but just desex those already
there," she said. "A village dog can have 20 babies a year. If it is
desexed, the area would have 20 fewer dogs."
Or also cited India's success in controlling the births of stray dogs in its
trap, neuter and release programmes. In Jaipur city, the stray population
was cut by 28 per cent from 1994 to 2002. In Chennai, the human death toll
from rabies dropped from 120 in 1996 to none at all in 2007.
Local residents should offer the animal welfare groups a chance to prove a
similar programme would work in Hong Kong, Or said. "It's hard to avoid
complaints no matter what we do. Should we then eliminate all the animals?"
In 2011, the agriculture department put down 6,561 dogs, followed by 5,289
more from January to November last year, government statistics show.