Illegal boar traps suspected in maiming of dogs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 December, 2009, 12:00am

Illegal leg traps allegedly set for wild boar may be responsible for an accident in which two stray dogs suffered serious blood loss and lost part of their legs after being caught in a Tai Po village.

Their chances of staying alive in the wild through the winter after their escape look bleak, as neither has had medical treatment. It remains unknown if there are more traps where they are hiding.

'One of these dogs has chewed off half of his front leg,' a dog lover, who has been following the incident, said. 'The other has a completely broken and useless front paw. Of course, they can't defend themselves or search for food, and they are basically living a slow, painful death.'

While it is not known where and when the dogs were trapped, the dog-loving resident believes the wounds indicate their legs were brutally clamped by something, and suspects it happened in bush near a grave at Tai Mei Tuk village.

The strays, a younger brown dog born in the village and a spotted white dog, have been living near the village for some time, showing up near the graves for food brought by dog lovers.

According to a villager who took pictures, the brown dog's paw was 'dangling', but it had fallen off later. The dog appeared yesterday near the grave.

The paw of the white dog had broken off completely and the rest of the leg had become swollen.

Officers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called in last week set a cage trap to catch the dogs so they could be taken to a vet by the villager.

The officers took away two empty cage traps near the bushes but did not find any leg traps.

On Tuesday night, the spotted white dog was found trapped inside the cage, but escaped when officers were transferring it to another one.

The villager, only willing to be identified as Joesis, said she was unwilling to call the dog catchers of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, as it would mean sending the dogs to their deaths.

'It is better to send them to the vet, who can decide if they can be healed,' she said. 'If the dogs can't be treated, I have no objection to putting them down. This is a process I doubt the government officers would go through.'

But the dog lover said it would be in the interest of the two dogs to end their suffering. 'I love dogs too and I am humane,' she said. 'But when you see the dogs ... shoot them, please.'

She hoped officers from the department could investigate a suspected squatter hut owner in the village who was known for hunting wild boar.

Visits by the Post to the village found no traces of the dogs, except food and bloodstains near the grave. The hut owner could not be contacted, though a large cage could be seen at the hut.

A spokeswoman for the department said officers had not found any hunting apparatus in Tai Mei Tuk in the past six months.

She said it was an offence for the public to possess any hunting apparatus, which might lead to a maximum fine of HK$50,000.

A total of 39 illegal hunting items were found in 221 inspections across the city in the first 11 months this year, compared with 57 found in 321 inspections last year.

Stanley Wong Wong-po, the village head, said wild boar occasionally came down the hill to the village looking for food. But he said he had never seen anyone using traps to catch the animals.