More than 30,000 people have signed a petition demanding the government apologize for allegedly prematurely euthanizing a lovable mutt that stowed away on a cargo ship that sailed from Thailand to Hong Kong.
The canine cause célèbre first pricked up the internet’s ears when it was found aboard the ship, which docked in Tsing Yi earlier this week. After the ship’s captain handed the animal over to Hong Kong Agriculture Department authorities, social media users leapt into action to find its Thai owner. Shockingly enough, they did, even managing to track down her sister here in Hong Kong.
Sadly, by the time local lawmaker Roy Kwong had reached out to authorities to request a stay of execution, it was too late: the dog, considered a rabies risk, had already been put down.
According to Kwong, who set up the petition expressing outrage over the animal’s death, many of the signatories included people from Thailand who were angry at the news.
The Democratic Party lawmaker described the incident as “an international scandal,” and this morning led a small protest outside the Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, where the main offices for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department are based. RTHK reports that an AFCD staff member was sent downstairs to receive the petition from Kwong.
Speaking to reporters gathered outside the offices, Kwong said: “The AFCD has yet to explain why it chose to kill the dog in less than 24 hours, without quarantining it first.”
In ordinary circumstances, the department is meant to wait at least four days before euthanizing strays to give their owners time to track them down. However, the department has since clarified that the four-day rule only applies to animals found in Hong Kong.
In an email to Coconuts HK, an AFCD spokesperson said that the four-day rule did not apply to “illegally imported” animals, but added that the department would review the procedures used for handling non-local stray brought into Hong Kong.