Dog rescue charity group now has to save itself

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2009, 12:00am

A charity that has been saving abandoned dogs now has to find a way to rescue itself after its landlord issued an ultimatum ordering it to leave the site in three months.

Hong Kong Dog Rescue's founder Sally Andersen said that the registered charity was given three months' notice on Tuesday that it must leave its Pok Fu Lam kennels by February 28.

But the charity has yet to find an alternative site to house the 190 dogs at the Pok Fu Lam site and is calling for adoption of the dogs.

The site's landlord, Swire Properties, said it has been charging Dog Rescue far less than the market rate and the charity's existing licence with the site expired this March.

The charity had been paying HK$5,000 per month, Andersen said.

The developer said it has been extending the agreement on a monthly basis while waiting for approval to begin a plan to turn the site into an elderly care facility.

Andersen said the charity had known about its fate since it moved in to the 20,000 sq ft site in 2005, because it knew that the site's landlord had been hoping to redevelop the site.

She said the charity had been looking for an alternative site for the past two years, and seeking help from the Lands Department, which had shown it a number of different possible areas all over Hong Kong.

But no suitable alternatives had yet been found.

Swire said it could be possible to help the charity find an alternative location in the New Territories but further study from both the property developer and the charity would be needed.

However, Andersen still hoped that the landlord could delay the moving date.

'There's no way we can move in three months,' Andersen said. 'We are still hoping [we can have] six months or something.'

She added that the future site, ideally of about 30,000 sq ft, had to be accessible for volunteers.

She said that a site only accessible by driving might affect the adoption rate of the dogs.

For the moment, Andersen said she hoped more people could take dogs home, to ease the charity's burden. 'We are asking people to adopt the dogs, and get as many [of them adopted] as possible,' she said.

The charity, founded in 2002 to rescue dogs from government kennels, has been funding itself through fund-raising campaigns and donations.

Its annual fund-raising event, Peak to Fong, which involves a walk with dogs from the Peak to Lan Kwai Fong, will take place this Sunday.

The Lands Department said that it had helped the charity to identify some potential vacant government land as an alternative to its current site, but no final decision had been reached.

A department spokesman said the government would continue to help as long as the charity needed.