Hong Kong woman tries to jump from bridge after being fined for dog’s savage bite
Tibetan mastiffs will have to be listed as dangerous dogs
A woman tried to jump from a footbridge opposite Tuen Mun Court after being fined HK$18,000 and ordered to have her two Tibetan mastiffs listed as dangerous dogs over a vicious dog bite that put her neighbour in hospital for 13 days.
Three passers-by had to pull back Cecilia Chui Woon-ho, 56, as she struggled to climb on top of planters lining the bridge in an apparent suicide attempt. This drew a small crowd of onlookers before six police officers escorted Chui to an ambulance.
Her two foreign domestic helpers had called out for help while Chui shouted at the court building: “If someone wants to find fault with you, there is always something they can come up with.”
She also shouted before she entered the ambulance: “Why not build 10 gates?”
Chui was found guilty after trial on four animal control charges under the Rabies Ordinance on Monday morning.
The victim, Cathay Pacific Airways employee Man Sze-wai, had testified that in November last year she walked about 10 steps from home shortly after 8am, when the two dogs suddenly attacked her.
Chui said her Filipino helper had forgotten to lock the gates and the other, from Indonesia, forgot to check if the gates were closed before she set the dogs free. She said one of them also did not look after the dogs as she was told. She said she fulfilled all her responsibilities because there was nothing she could do about her domestic helpers’ neglect.
Chui had apologised to the victim’s family. “I hope [the victim] can let go of this,” she said. “This is an accident that we did not want to happen.”
She said during the trial that she took all reasonable steps to prevent such an incident, like attending training, giving her helpers written rules, fencing off the garden of her Yuen Long home and buying leads and muzzles. She said she used various locks to secure the dog house and the gates of her village home.
But deputy magistrate Pang Leung-ting said her defence was wrong in the first place because those measures did not directly address the fact that the dogs were allowed to leave the property.
He said Chui could have installed automatic locks and an extra gate plus motion sensors.
She could also have sent the helpers to safety training, made written guidelines in their languages and instructed them to walk the dogs only when both were at home.
“This was not an ordinary dog bite incident,” Pang said, referring to the victim’s injuries that still require medical attention. “The case definitely belongs to the class of high severity.”
Chui, a cold meat wholesaler, had already paid HK$12,000 when her Indonesian domestic helper, Juminem, pleaded guilty on the same charges two weeks ago.
She faced a maximum fine of HK$10,000 for being the owner of a dog not under control and with access to a public place, and for the bite.
If you have been affected by suicidal thoughts, get help from:
- 24-hour hotline at Suicide Prevention Services: +852 2382 0000
- 24-hour hotline at Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong: +852 2389 2222
- Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care: +852 2868 1211