A dog which boarded a cargo ship in Thailand has been put down by the authorities after it arrived in Hong Kong. However, a family member of the pet’s owner in Hong Kong, as well as a lawmaker, have criticised the authorities as failing to follow proper procedures.

News of the dog’s arrival was first shared on Tuesday on a Facebook travel group by a Hong Kong terminal worker trying to locate its owner. The dog, which was wearing a collar, had already been taken away by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), according to the post.

dog Thailand
The dog on a cargo ship from Laem Chabang port in Thailand to Hong Kong. Photo: Hong Kong Animal Post/Handout.

The AFCD told HKFP on Wednesday evening that it had received a request for help from a shipping company on Monday and Tuesday, saying that an unidentified dog had been found on a cargo ship from Laem Chabang port. The company asked the department to receive the dog.

The AFCD said no microchip, health certificate or medical records were found after an examination by a veterinarian.

“This renders the dog a suspect originating from an area with [a] rabies outbreak. Out of consideration for public health and safety and animal welfare, the dog was euthanized by the veterinarian,” the AFCD said.

Apology demanded

Before the action was taken, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong sent a letter on Wednesday morning to the head of the AFCD urging it not to kill the dog. In response to the latest development, Kwong said he believed the incident would become an “international scandal.”

He said that, according to existing procedures, the AFCD should wait for four days before conducting euthanasia, in order to allow time for the owner to claim the stray animal.

“I am furious that the AFCD killed the dog before getting to the bottom of the incident,” he said. “If the dog travelled to any other countries or places in the world, it would not have been killed so recklessly within a short period of time.”

Kwong launched a petition urging the AFCD to apologise.

Roy Kwong
Roy Kwong. File Photo: inmediahk.net.

The dog’s owner in Thailand heard about the incident through news reports and asked her sister, who lives in Hong Kong, to contact the AFCD in the hopes of being reunited with her pet.

Bobo, the owner’s sister, told Apple Daily that the owner looked after many dogs and was saddened by the news.

“My sister said it was reckless – it has yet to be four days. [AFCD] said [the dog] would be killed if the owner could not be found in four days – it was killed before four days passed,” said Bobo.

Bobo said her sister had found a Hong Kong friend promising to claim the dog and temporarily take care of it. Her sister had also planned to come to the city to deal with the incident, she said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.