Animal welfare groups have urged dog owners on Hong Kong Island to properly leash their pets and avoid the Cyberport area after a spate of dog poisoning incidents over the weekend.
At least six dogs suffering from poisoning symptoms were admitted to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of Hong Kong (VSH) in Wan Chai on Sunday evening. All had been to the Cyberport Waterfront Park in Pok Fu Lam earlier that day.
One photo posted by the Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) animal shelter showed a piece of luncheon meat that appeared to have been poisoned.
“The first symptoms seen by the dog owners are increased panting and restlessness, and can start anywhere between 2 hours and as long as 12 hours after exposure,” a VSH Facebook statement read on Monday.
According to HKDR’s daily blog, at least four dogs had succumbed to the poison. Two dogs were fighting for their lives at the VSH as of Monday afternoon.
“We would recommend all dog owners to avoid these areas, keep your dog on short leashes at all times, keep an extra eye out for suspicious items on walks, prevent your dog from eating anything outside, and put a basket muzzle on if necessary,” it continued.
The statement also referred to similar incidents in Sai Kung and Repulse Bay.
Hong Kong Dog Rescue urged dog-owners to avoid the areas. “We highly recommend that all dogs are kept away from the area unless on leash, and that you take advantage of other fun places like the Country Parks instead. Losing a dog this way is heartbreaking, so please don’t take the risk,” the shelter wrote on Facebook.
Southern District Councillor Paul Zimmerman denounced the poisonings as a “malicious act” and called on dog owners to take precautions.
“This is a malicious criminal act endangering the life of children as well as pets. The only way to deal with a terrorist [act] like this is to find the culprit,” he told HKFP.
“I urge all park users to keep an eye out for edible items including in and around the bushes, and to collect them and to dispose them in the bins.” He added that they should take a picture of any suspected poisoned meat or dog food and email them to his office.
The uptick in poisonings follow a similar incident last month at Cyberport where one dog died. The SPCA had issued an awards notice of HK$100,000 for any member of the public who could provide information leading to the culprit’s arrest.
Calls for action
Eva Sit, a HKDR representative told HKFP that the case shows Hong Kong authorities are failing in their duty to ensure public safety.
“Why are such toxic substances so easily available?” she asked, saying that the poison also posed a threat to the general public and small children.
She added that authorities should implement measures like frequent police patrols at high-risk areas in order to prevent future similar incidents. “Authorities have a duty to ensure public safety.”
HKFP has reached out to the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company for comment.
An unknown serial dog poisoner has been in operation near Hong Kong’s Bowen Road and Black’s Link hiking trial for almost three decades. The SPCA estimates around 200 dogs have been affected since the early 1990s.
Anyone with information on the dog poisoning incidents can call the police hotline 3660 6611 or the SPCA on 2711 1000.
Correction 15:00: A previous version of this article quoted Paul Zimmerman as condemning “terrorist cats” as opposed to “terrorist acts.”