• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 8:14am

Desexing scheme for stray dogs has failed in Lamma village

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 12:43am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 4:42pm

In the universe of horrible ideas, the subject of the report ("Scheme to desex stray dogs ready for trial run", January 13) outshines them all.

Shame on the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for even contemplating such an ineffective scheme, especially in the light of the ongoing struggle to contain over 50 stray dogs (and growing) which are the products of a similar, albeit failed, desexing experiment in the Lamma village of Lo So Shing where I live.

This "trap, neuter and release" experiment was funded in part by a university grant to research the impact of desexing canines as an alternative to targeted removal. It was supported by animal welfare organisations and individuals, and only recently disclosed to local residents after the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department pulled its support in August.

To put this failure into perspective, less than five years ago, there were only about three to five strays living on the beach, and the village was peaceful. Now there is conflict between neighbours and with the authorities.

Your report did not look at the medium-term post-operative care for these strays once they are reintroduced to village life.

Once a dog is released, animal welfare organisations predict the average life expectancy is three years before the department is called in to haul the dog's body away. In the meantime, the dogs need access to food and medicine.

Nightly, supporters of this scheme are observed shovelling large quantities of dog food onto our village paths.

As the food piles up, dogs from outside the scheme learn of the free feed and happily descend on our village, some of whom are females in heat, with the inevitable consequences.

The amount of feed required to satisfy 40-plus dogs is enormous and is an organised process.

At a certain point, these dogs find it difficult to live sociably together, resulting in regular dog fights, targeted attacks on refuse bins and bags, and overall aggressive pack behaviour as strays look to protect their turf.

The scheme has been a failure.

The only way to truly correct the stray dog problem is to get people to stop feeding and sheltering stray dogs.

The department has the authority to designate problem areas as "no-feed zones".

This, coupled with harsh financial penalties and daily enforcement, will ensure success. Any other option is just foolish and naive.

Adam Bornstein, Lamma


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This article is now closed to comments

Adam Bornstein makes several serious errors in his letter in today's SCMP, "Desexing scheme for stray dogs has failed in Lamma village".
He is correct in the sense that the scheme has not yet been fully successful but it can certainly not be deemed a failure.
First, the reason for the numbers of ferals dogs increasing over the years was that AFCD/SPCA requested that we should not carry out TNR there because they were planning to do a scientific trial whose validity they claimed would be compromised if we started the scheme before they did. We waited and waited as the years went by and time was wasted by consultation after consultation - the result was the steady increase in the numbers of dogs as observed by Mr Bornstein. If we had started TNR in 2008 when we wanted to, there would already be no dogs left. When finally AFCD/SPCA decided not to go ahead in that area, we started it ourselves only last year. The reason progress has not been more rapid is because we have so far been unable to control the villagers who wish to continue "shovelling large quantities of dog food" - as Mr Bornstein correctly puts it. Interestingly, it is not villagers in favour of AFCD's Catch and Kill policy that have been the problem but villagers who can't bear to think of dogs being trapped and neutered. What, unfortunately, we do not have is the authority to stop these villagers from thwarting our efforts. Minimum official support would ensure success.
Steve Harrison
Jwed, or Dr. John Wedderburn's comments above should carry a caveat - he has been charged by the Hong Kong Government at least two times over the past couple of years for his activities related to animal activism.
John has been active in Lo So Shing for many years, and so when he states that "...we started it ourselves only last year" he is contradicts his states in he arrest plea on Facebook. Here he writes about his efforts in 2011 to retrieve dogs from an Animal Management facility that were removed from Lo So Shing. He writes on his facebook page how "...to remove puppies arbitrarily at this point of time, apart from being both pointless and cruel, will interfere with the trial..."
I don't think anyone is against saving dogs who are abandoned by owners or abused but these stray dogs are wild dangerous animals and need to be removed. They never should have been born. If you try and save all the stray dogs, even if they are neutered, you still need to care for them. They need food. Since there are not fences around Lo So Shing or other villages, how do you keep non neutered dogs out? They will be attracted by food.
I don't know who Bornstein is or if his facts are correct but all you need to do is do some searching on the internet and you can piece together the story and timeline. Or, just go travel to Lo So Shing and see for yourself. I hope Government does something because I use to enjoy trips to Lamma but now I don't go because of the dog problem.


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