RSPCA calls for ban on dog repellent

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 1994, 12:00am

A DOG 'Mace' used by postmen and available on supermarket shelves is a potential killer and should be banned, the RSPCA says.

The call coincides with a joint police and Post Office probe into allegations that a New Territories postman used the repellent spray on a villager's dog without provocation.

The active ingredient in the product - called Halt - is cayenne pepper, which the manufacturers say causes temporary blindness and intolerable burning in the animal's eyes and nose.

RSCPA spokesman Rosana Lai yesterday warned the spray could kill a dog if wrongly used.

'If it is used indiscriminately and with no consideration for the animal, then we would condemn it,' she said.

'We cannot endorse the use of a product which will cause an animal to suffer pain and distress and, in the case of an animal with respiratory problems, possibly death.' Ms Lai said the RSPCA believed the product was the same as Mace and should be strictly controlled or outlawed.

The controller of the Post Office's posts management services division, Ellen Siu, said postmen at risk of attack were given a can of Halt - available at supermarkets - under the direction it be used only when there is an 'absolute need'.

Fo Tan village resident Lau Wai-man lodged a complaint with the Post Office after a postman last month sprayed his mother's dog.

Mrs Siu said investigations showed the postman used the spray defending himself against a 'big dog which jumped up and barked at him'.

She said talks between the Post Office and police were continuing and could not confirm how many postmen carried the spray or how long it had been used.

Another organisation considering distributing repellent is the China Light and Power Company, which has sought the opinion of the RSPCA before proceeding with its use.

'Our opinion was not to recommend the use of it for the simple reason the product contains certain elements which when misused could cause harm and distress to the animal,' Miss Lai said.

A material safety data sheet provided by North Health Care in Illinois recommends immediate medical attention for people who get Halt on their skin or in their eyes, which the RSPCA says is enough evidence to suggest the product should not be used on animals.