Outrage ensued on social media today after Hong Kong authorities reportedly put down a dog that had snuck aboard a cargo ship headed there from Thailand the week earlier.
The story quickly gained netizens’ attention after animal rights group Watchdog Thailand (WDT) reported that the dog had been put down yesterday by Hong Kong’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFCD) on their Facebook page last night.
WDT quoted this reply from Hong Kong’s Government department: “After examination by a veterinarian, no health certificate or medical record was found of the dog. This renders the dog a suspect originating from an area with rabies outbreak.”
“Out of consideration for public health and safety and animal welfare, the dog was euthanized by the veterinarian.”
“The canine reportedly arrived at a port in Tsing Yi island northeast of the main Hong Kong island on Tuesday morning after wandering onto and accidentally boarding a cargo ship from the port city of Laem Chabang in Thailand’s Chonburi province, which is about 125 kilometer south of Bangkok, six days earlier.
Upon the ship’s arrival to Hong Kong, the ship’s captain turned the dog over to authorities reported local media Apple Daily.
Meanwhile on the same day, a crew member — identified as Ha Wing-kin — posted a photo of the dog on Facebook in an attempt to locate its owner, setting off a frantic social media search for the dog’s owner by netizens wary that the dog could get put down.
AFCD procedures state that stray animals should be euthanized within four days to give the owner time to claim them.
The post got shared by multiple Thai Facebook groups and pages until a woman in Bangkok was identified as the owner of the dog. The dog was to be sent to the owner’s older sister, who is currently living in Hong Kong, until the owner could fly into Hong Kong so that they could bring the dog home.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong — who our Hong Kong co-workers explained is the go-to lawmaker for anything animal-related — even stepped in and wrote a letter to the AFCD to ensure the dog’s safety yesterday morning.
In a heartbreaking twist, however, the department notified Kwong yesterday afternoon that the animal had already been put down.
In a phone interview with Apple Daily, the owner’s older sister,’ “BoBo” said her sister was incredibly upset with the news.
“My sister says it was reckless, it wasn’t even four days, they said the dog would be killed if the owner could not be found in four days, and it was killed before four days had passed.”
Kwong posted on Facebook that he was angry with what had happened, and urged Hongkongers to sign a petition demanding that the AFCD “apologize for this irresponsible and ridiculous action.”
Meanwhile, WDT legal advisor Paew Piromya told Coconuts Bangkok this morning that they’ve taken in the case and are currently looking into whether AFCD’s decision to put down the dog could be considered a “misconduct.”
“We’re currently gathering information and talking to several Hong Kong animal rights organizations to determine whether AFCD violated protocol by putting down the dog. We don’t have a conclusion yet,” she told us.
When asked about the four-day policy, Paew said she was unsure if that only applies to local dogs.
“They may have a different policy for foreign dogs… We’re also trying to see if the AFCD received anyone’s appeals not to put down the dog… it just feels like they skipped a few steps or maybe ignored the humanity aspect of the situation,” she said.
Paew assured us that she will keep Coconuts Bangkok posted on any updates regarding the investigation.
Additional reporting by Coconuts Hong Kong