Pet society

Animal rights activists denounce pet trade in Hong Kong as more than 130 animals seized in suspected smuggling case

Animal rights activists have expressed shock at a recent smuggling case involving more than 130 cats and dogs found on a speedboat in Hong Kong waters.

Authorities found 17 cages on the speedboat. Photo: Hong Kong Police.

“It’s horrible,” Sally Andersen, founder of animal rescue charity Hong Kong Dog Rescue, told HKFP on Friday. “All of this exists because people in Hong Kong are buying kittens and puppies online…without caring what that entails.”

Police said Thursday that maritime authorities seized 101 cats and 35 dogs crammed into cages during an operation Wednesday night, with up to 16 cats in one of the cages.

The boat was intercepted following a high-speed chase in waters west of the city near Tuen Mun. The animals – which were not microchipped – were all young and pure breeds.

“They were crammed into 17 cages. Each cage had a different number of dogs and cats, but we could see very clearly that they were [in] a very crowded environment,” Senior Inspector Tang Sau-yin of the Customs Maritime Enforcement Group said at a press conference on Thursday.

Senior Inspector Kenneth Tang of the Marine Enforcement Group. Screenshot, via Hong Kong Police.

Police have arrested a 30-year-old man for animal cruelty and importing unregistered goods.

‘Not an isolated incident’

The animals are currently cared for by the government’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the NGO Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The AFCD took in 78 cats, 34 dogs and a rabbit, while the SPCA took in 35 cats and 12 dogs.

Authorities found 17 cages on the speedboat. Photo: Hong Kong Police.

“This is not an isolated incident,” Andersen said, adding that Hong Kong does not sufficiently crack down on animal smuggling involving young animals raised in mainland China and brought to Hong Kong.

In January, police found 37 kittens and puppies on a speedboat bound for Hong Kong from Shekou, a port in Shenzhen. In another case last December, 52 cats and dogs were discovered in a van in the New Territories coastal village of Lau Fau Shan.

Sally Andersen from Hong Kong Dog Rescue. File photo: Gene Lin/HKFP.

“It’s just an ongoing frustration that people… think they can buy an animal online as if it were an inanimate object without caring what’s involved,” she said. .

Animal activists have long complained that the city’s animal cruelty laws were insufficient to deter related crimes.

Andersen said she doesn’t know if anyone has been prosecuted for animal trafficking in Hong Kong, although a number of cases have been uncovered by police in recent years.

After rumors emerged online Thursday that the animals would be euthanized if not adopted after four months, the SPCA clarified that the animals would only be available for adoption after legal procedures were completed, which would be “at the earliest the minimum quarantine period of four months.”

“Stop Buying”

Sheila McClelland, the founder of Lifelong Animal Protection, said she and other charity members were “extremely happy and extremely sad” that authorities intercepted the boat and seized the animals.

“Happy that these lucky kittens and puppies will now have a chance for a better life, and sad that so many more remain victims of this terrible trade and society’s appetite for buying purebreds. “, she said.

Authorities found 17 cages on the speedboat. Photo: Hong Kong Police.

McClelland said the animals were spared being thrown overboard to drown, the “tragic end of many contraband animals” whose journeys are interrupted.

In 2020, dead dogs that washed up on Stanley and Lamma Island beaches were believed to be animals left to drown in the sea by smugglers fleeing a police chase.

“Many people were shocked by this incident and were moved to offer to volunteer, donate or adopt. All of this is important, but the single most important thing you can do to stop the breeding is to stop buying,” she said.

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