Animal carer's 25 dogs 'circled and bit runner'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong Dog Rescue founder Sally Andersen went on trial yesterday over an incident in which a runner said he was surrounded by 25 dogs and repeatedly bitten.

Canadian Mitch MacDonald told Eastern Court he still had nightmares about the attack, which left him with puncture wounds in his legs that became infected.

Prosecutors said the animals were in the care of Andersen, 59, the woman behind the organisation that rescues, rehabilitates and finds homes for dogs.

She is accused of contravening section 25 of the Rabies Ordinance and pleads not guilty to being a keeper of dogs that were not leashed or under control and bit a person in a public place.

The incident occurred at Lamma Island quarry on October 6 last year and a key issue in the case is whether the location is deemed a public place.

Under questioning by prosecutor Neil Mitchell yesterday, MacDonald, 36, a consultant who has lived on Lamma Island for 10 years, said he was a long-distance runner and ran five or six times per week.

He started running at the quarry last year, doing laps around a pond.

MacDonald, who lives in Tai Wan To, said on October 6 that he took a path to the quarry and had completed one lap of his regular loop around the pond when he came to a bridge and saw the dogs.

He said: 'They came in waves. There were four dogs in the first wave, and directly behind that was the second wave of 10 to 12 dogs, and directly behind that was the third wave.' He estimated there were 20 to 25 dogs in total and they were large, aggressive and barking.

MacDonald said the dogs surrounded him and bit him on his legs.

'I was circled by dogs. I would turn to address the one that was biting me, then one from behind would bite,' he said. 'I had never experienced that before, to be surrounded by 20 to 25 dogs. You know, it's not something you expect when you go for a run.'

MacDonald said he had seen a woman when he arrived in the area that day. She called the dogs and they went towards her, leaving him alone 15-20 seconds after he was first bitten.

He reported the incident to police and went to a clinic. He had puncture wounds in four locations and later infection developed, he said.

'The scars are not bad, but I still have nightmares,' he said. 'You have to realise, I live on an island with lots of dogs, so if I ever encounter a strange dog, I'm scared.'

Up to two-thirds of the dogs that attacked him were muzzled, MacDonald said.

He said there was every indication that the area was public land. 'There was not a sign or fence, not a remnant of a sign or fence,' he said.

But defence barrister Daniel Marash SC, presented a photo showing a sign saying: 'Danger, quarry'.

He said another photo showed the trail leading from the village where MacDonald lived to the quarry, and that there had been - and still was - a fence line there.

Another witness, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department field officer Leung Siu-kai, said Andersen had told him that six of the 20-plus dogs she had been walking had not been muzzled.

If the incident had occurred, those six would have been involved.

Breaching section 25 of the Rabies Ordinance can lead to a fine of HK$10,000. The trial continues on November 3 before Deputy Special Magistrate Stephen Yeung Shu-bun.