Fury after dog killed on MTR tracks because rail bosses refused to halt services
Protests hit stations and tens of thousands sign petition as anger builds at corporation's decision to resume services while stray was on tracks
Bryan Harris and Gloria Chan
The MTR Corporation yesterday faced a wave of protests, including an online petition signed by around 80,000 people, after it failed to prevent the death of a stray dog on its East Rail Line.
The animal was killed at around 10.30am on Wednesday morning, just 30 minutes after staff at the Sheung Shui MTR station failed in a brief effort to remove the stray who had wandered onto the lines.
Watch: Death of dog on MTR tracks sparks outrage in Hong Kong
Services were suspended for six minutes during their attempts, which included dangling a chair over the edge of the platform. But when those failed the MTR control centre said services had to resume.
The animal, which had run down the track towards the next station, Fanling, was then hit by intercity T801 from Guangzhou.
The incident sparked outrage from people who asked why more of an effort had not been made to help the dog.
Yesterday, activists staged protests at locations including Fanling MTR station, close to where the dog was killed, and the company's headquarters in Kowloon Bay.
Five activists associated with the People Power political party attempted to jump onto the tracks at the station in the New Territories, but were stopped by security, according to witnesses.
Other protesters left bunches of flowers and pet food on the platform in remembrance of the dead animal.
"We cannot let another 'Little Yue-yue' incident happen in Hong Kong," said Cheng Chung-tai of Civic Passion, referring to a widely publicised incident in Guangdong in 2011 when Wang Yue, the two-year-old victim of a car accident, was ignored by throngs of pedestrians.
Online, people expressed anger and dismay, and a petition calling for an official MTR explanation quickly gained around 80,000 signatures.
Many questioned why staff members had failed to help the dog; others wondered if such a tragedy would be repeated.
A Facebook-organised event to mourn the dog is scheduled to take place tomorrow at Sheung Shui station.
The MTR said last night it supported animal protection and that staff had attempted to coax the dog to safety.
But the dog had remained elusive and could not be located even after staff at Fanling station ordered an incoming train to stop to enable a search.
The dog was found dead after the train was allowed to depart, it added.
A spokesman for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the MTR had no mechanism to deal with such a situation.
"We understand the MTR is under pressure to keep the trains running on time," Michael Wong said. "But it didn't alert the [Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department] which could have been able to help.
"The AFCD have tranquiliser guns which would have made saving the dog easier.
"It's a terrible way to die."
But Wong said such incidents did not happen very often and this was the only animal known to have been killed on the railway lines in recent years.
"The MTR has a good mechanism to keep animals off the rails," he said, in contrast to its apparent lack of a plan for when animals did get on the tracks.