Homes for dogs sought as SPCA kennels fill up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am


A series of crackdowns on illegal breeding and the sale of dogs on the internet has left the SPCA facilities almost full to capacity.

As a result, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has called on the public to adopt the dogs, many of them pure-bred.

More than 100 dogs, another 100 cats and other smaller animals will be available for adoption at the SPCA this weekend as it joins an annual 'adoptathon' organised by the North Shore Animal League of the United States.

'This year is a bit different because we have a lot of pure-bred dogs. Normally we have more mixed-bred ones,' executive director Sandy Macalister said.

Usually half of the animals that the SPCA offers for adoption are pure-bred, but that proportion is now about 60 per cent.

Some of the animals were confiscated by law enforcers after a crackdown against an illegal breeding site in Lau Fau Shan last year. About half of them were adopted but SPCA still has 80 of the animals.

Successful prosecutions of illegal online dog sellers have also added to the number of animals the group takes care of. Forty-three puppies, some just three weeks old, were rescued after officers raided a Kwun Tong industrial building earlier this month.

The SPCA kennels, which house about 50 dogs, have always been full, but backhouse support - such as hospital beds and foster vacancies - are more strained than ever, according to staff.

Many of the newcomers rescued in raids were weak and needed special hospital care. Others were very young and needed foster families.

Since the group lost its centre in Pok Fu Lam - knocked down for redevelopment after the lease expired last year - its kennels have been packed, he said.

Macalister said there were many illegal breeding sites in Hong Kong and there is a lot of cruelty to animals. Illegal smuggling also results in diseases being introduced as the animals bypass quarantine, he said. 'The animals are not respected... They are treated as a commodity ... and are packed in cages,' he said.

Some pups - weak and in need of intensive care - had been separated from their mothers three weeks after birth, much sooner than the optimal six to eight weeks.

Female pure-bred dogs were kept in wire cages and gave birth twice a year, he said.

Among the dogs awaiting adoption is Yoyo, a seven-year-old female husky which was living in the illegal breeding centre for years.

Another is Ah Man, an eight-year-old male mongrel rescued by the SPCA two years ago. It had been deserted by its owner for weeks while another dog found with it had starved to death.

'It was very thin and had bad skin problems,' SPCA staff said. The dog now has bald patches on its back.

This year's adoptathon will run from Saturday until May 1.

The group's five animal adoption centres will open from 11am or noon to about 7pm in the period.