Woman faces fines after saving stray dog

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 November, 2013, 6:12am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 November, 2013, 6:12am

An animal lover who saved an injured stray dog when it was caught in a government snare faces a hefty fine for her act of kindness.

Sue Cuthbertson has been charged with breaching the Rabies Ordinance by not having a licence and failing to have the dog vaccinated. She has also been charged with failing to leash the dog in a public place, and faces up to HK$4,000 in fines.

Cuthbertson, a volunteer for the group Sai Kung Stray Friends, said she only claimed to be the owner of the mongrel, which she named Red Dog for his coppery fur, because she feared he would be put to sleep after he was seen being picked up by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officers.

The dog was caught in traps twice in May. On the first occasion, Red Dog ran off with the trap still attached and chewed part of his own paw off, only to return and be caught again in one of the department's snares.

Cuthbertson says the dog is healthy apart from the partly missing paw. He is living at the Friends' kennels in Sai Kung.

Cuthbertson has been summoned to appear in court on December 4. It is the second time she has been charged after claiming ownership of a stray. The first time, two years ago, she pleaded guilty by letter and escaped a fine.

"I plan to plead guilty again. I can't see any point in not pleading guilty because I said it was my dog. Basically I had no other option. If you want to save these dogs you have to say you own them," she said.

"I believe 100 per cent Red Dog would have been euthanised. I know the department try their hardest to re-home stray dogs. He is a gentle giant but at the time he was terrified and they could not get near him and would have deemed him not suitable for re-homing."

The case highlights the need for quick implementation of a trap, neuter and return scheme that would reduce the number of strays, she says.

The department said the case had been referred to prosecutors after Cuthbertson claimed the dog from the kennel.

A spokeswoman said the department's traps, which did not cause injury, were endorsed by the Animal Welfare Advisory Group. She added that two potential sites had been identified for a trial trap-neuter-return scheme, in Yuen Long and Cheung Chau. One of the two was tentatively scheduled to begin operating early next year.