An animal welfare group is offering an HK$8,000 reward for help in finding the culprit behind the deaths of seven dogs over the past three weeks on Cheung Chau.
The dogs died of unnatural causes, fuelling speculation they could have been poisoned, said Gloria Li Suk-fun, chairwoman of Stop - Save HK's Cats and Dogs. Given the high number of deaths, the timing and the grouping of the incidents around Tai Kwai Wan suggested the acts could be related to opposition to a dog desexing programme, Li said.
Her group headed to Cheung Chau yesterday, handing out leaflets warning pet owners to beware of dog poisoning and urged witnesses to come forward with any information.
"The series of deaths is highly unusual. It started a day after animal groups took a trap-neuter-release proposal to the Islands District Council," she said.
In a three-year pilot programme, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) would like to capture, neuter and release stray dogs around Tai Kwai Wan to prevent unwanted births and control the population.
The council's tourism, agriculture, fisheries and environmental hygiene committee discussed the proposal on March 25 and people voicing objections to the plan were some residents of Tai Kwai Wan. They prefer that the dogs are captured and put down.
Two dogs died around the area the next day. These were followed by additional deaths that led to suspicions someone was poisoning the animals.
"On April 9, a dog died and another was in such a bad shape that it had to be put down by the SPCA," Li said. "This happened again on April 10. We discovered the body of one dog and another dog that was badly harmed, which was eventually put down."
"It was a heaven-to-hell experience. I was so happy about the possibility of launching the neutering programme there, but was told dogs were dying," she said. There are about 30 strays living in the area, she said.
Police confirmed they had five reports from people requesting help over the incidents.
The SCPA examined the dead animals. It recommended that four of the bodies be further examined to determine the cause of death, a spokeswoman said. Results of toxicology examinations are pending.