MTR will review policy after death of dog on tracks sparks outrage

Operations chief tells protesters that the corporation will act after outcry at dog's death

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 1:27pm

The MTR Corporation has promised to teach staff how to handle animals that wander onto the tracks after the death of a dog hit by a train led to public outrage.

Operations director Dr Jacob Kam Chak-pui made the pledge yesterday when confronted by about 100 protesters.

"We are deeply sorry about our failure to rescue the dog," he told the protesters at the MTR headquarters in Kowloon Bay yesterday afternoon.

"Our frontline staff have not received training on how to deal with such incidents, but we promise that we will set up guidelines and a standard operating procedure for emergency cases for our frontline staff, such as this one."

It will seek advice from animal welfare organisations to help design training and handling methods. A team will also be set up to investigate the handling of Wednesday's incident and a report will be released in about a week, the corporation said.

The dog was hit and killed by a cross-border train from Guangzhou at Fanling Station shortly after 10am on Wednesday.

It had been briefly seen by staff and passengers at neighbouring Sheung Shui station at 9.50am. Trains were halted while station staff tried unsuccessfully to coax the dog back onto the platform.

The dog then hid in the gap under the platform, the MTR said. Trains were allowed to move in and out at 9.58am when the control centre considered the area safe. Drivers were instructed to operate trains manually and at a reduced speed.

At 10.09am, the dog was spotted at the Fanling station by a member of staff, who signalled an incoming train to stop. Station staff launched a search but could not find the dog.

The train was then allowed to depart, and shortly afterwards, the animal was found dead on the track, the MTR said.

Watch: Death of dog on MTR tracks sparks outrage in Hong Kong

Images of the dog trying to get onto the platform, and of its body after it was killed, have been circulated widely on social media.

By yesterday evening, more than 90,000 people had signed an online petition expressing anger and dismay over the MTR's handling of the incident.

Fanling resident Cheung Wai-yee, who claimed to know the dog's owner, said the MTR should have called the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on the two occasions the dog was seen.

"It should have asked the department to seek the dog's owner by scanning the [dog's] microchip," Cheung said.

Cheung wants to retrieve the carcass but fears it may have been dumped.

Cheung had asked the Food and Environmental Hygiene department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department about its whereabouts but neither could give him a clear answer.

An MTR spokeswoman said the company had called the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on Wednesday and followed its instructions to pack the body, label the package and put it in a refuse-collection centre near Fanling station.

A spokesman for the department said that if the body of an animal had been brought to one of its collection points, the department's contractor would treat the body with powdered bleach and seal it in an airtight bag before taking it to a landfill.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Thursday criticised the MTR Corporation for not enlisting people with experience and training in handling animals, saying the death could have been prevented.

Leung Chi-sing, an MTR train driver and a district councillor, said staff lacked training in handling animals on the tracks and no tools were available at stations to catch animals.