Havens for the Strays

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Small charitable dog shelters struggle to make ends meet

Reporters: Daphne Li, Tommy Yuen, Civi Yap

Editors: Crystal Wu, Rivers Zhang

Stray animals are often found wandering on the streets of Hong Kong. According to figures from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), 1,566 strays dog were caught last year. Under current policy, these dogs are transferred to management centres for observation. The department will then transfer suitable dogs to animal welfare organisations for adoption.

In a bid to help more stray dogs, animal lovers have set up small charitable dog shelters to provide food and accommodation for them. But these shelters face financial problems as they rely largely on public donation.

Narelle Pamuk, chairperson of self-funded dog shelter Sai Kung Stray Friends Foundation, says the operation of her dog shelter costs up to HK$57,000 a month. The foundation receives an annual subsidy of HK$45,000 from the government for desexing and vaccinating their dogs, but the amount is far from enough.

Another self-financed dog shelter House of Joy & Mercy also faces similar challenges. Person-in-charge of the shelter Ivy Tse says medical spending and body checks for dogs are the biggest financial burdens.

On the bright side, public awareness of stray animal welfare has grown stronger in recent years. The number of stray animals caught and received by the AFCD dropped significantly from 4,074 to 2,926 from 2015 to 2017. The number of dogs being euthanised also went down by 30 per cent during the same period.

Lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu says the government should appreciate the value of small charitable organisations, as well as introducing supporting measures so that they can operate in a sustainable way and more stray dogs can be saved from hunger and misery.