Animal lovers have expressed concerns over the fate of a dog that was found taking shelter from a storm in an MTR train on Tuesday night after authorities confirmed yesterday that its owner has decided to abandon it.
The dog became a minor internet celebrity after an HK01 reporter spotted her, soaking wet, hitching a ride on a West Rail Line train during Tuesday’s thunderstorm. MTR staff were filmed trying, and mostly failing, to shoo the dog off the train, chasing it in and out of the train carriage for multiple stops.
The mutt was handed over to the Society for Protection of Animals (SPCA), who managed to track down its owner before passing the case over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
However, the HY01 reported last night that the AFCD confirmed the owner had signed a form declaring that they wanted to abandon the dog.
The spokesperson confirmed that the dog was currently staying at the AFCD’s Animal Management Centre, and a preliminary investigation found she was in good health and had no scars or injuries.
AFCD procedures state that stray animals may be put down after a four-day waiting period to give their owners time to claim them. As the dog’s former owner did not transfer ownership of the dog to someone else, there are now fears that it might be put down.
Roy Kwong, a Democratic Party lawmaker and animal lover, told HK01 he had contacted the AFCD for an update on the dog, and said that if she is healthy and tame, she should be transferred to an animal shelter.
In January, the AFCD were urged to review their policy on euthanizing animals after a pooch that stowed away on a cargo ship that sailed from Thailand to Hong Kong was put down before the four-day window had elapsed.
Miraculously, the dog’s owner in Thailand was identified after a call was put out on social media, but the authorities said that the dog, considered a rabies risk, had already been put down, adding that the four-day observation period did not apply to “illegally imported” strays.
Outcry over the euthanization prompted the AFCD to pledge in April to “seriously review the procedure and methods to deal with overseas animals that are lost and have come to Hong Kong,” HKFP reported at the time.