Hong Kong man jailed for tail docking his poodle

Vet applauds the penalty after magistrate slams dog owner for his ignorance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 9:28pm

A man who let a stranger tie his pet poodle’s tail for docking because he thought it would be painless and beautify the animal’s appearance was jailed for four weeks yesterday.

Minibus driver Eric Chau Wai-ming, 50, was stripped of the animal’s ownership as magistrate Debbie Ng Chung-yee slammed him for putting the dog through unnecessary suffering simply out of his own ignorance.

Kwun Tong Court heard that Chau, who described himself as an animal-lover, wanted to take his poodle for tail docking after caring for the animal for only a month. On May 11, when a man in the park suggested tying the animal’s tail to make it fall off, Chau allowed the stranger to carry out the suggestion on site.

The magistrate’s prudent decision was made from the dog’s perspective.
Mark Mak

Days later, when Chau untied the rope, he discovered his poodle’s tail was severely injured. Veterinary examinations found the tail tissues had died and there was pus flowing from the wound.

Chau pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of animal cruelty, an offence punishable by a HK$200,000 fine and three years imprisonment.

Mark Mak, executive chairman of the Non-profit making Veterinary clinic (NPV), which reported the abuse, said the case was very important because it reminded all dog owners that they cannot do whatever they want just to beautify their animals.

“I am particularly happy because I did not expect a jail sentence,” he said. “It’s surprisingly good news for animal lovers ... that the magistrate’s prudent decision was made from the dog’s perspective.”

Chau had told police upon his arrest on May 18 that he did not know that tail docking “this way” was considered animal abuse. In mitigation, he said he felt very guilty and remorseful.

It’s time to outlaw animal cruelty in China

Chau’s lawyer told the court that the dog owner had brought the poodle for medical help as soon as he realised there was a problem. But he could not afford to pay HK$8,000 for surgery so he visited a second vet, who recommended the NPV clinic as a cheaper option.

Anthony Leung, chief inspector at Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said Hong Kong currently does not prohibit tail docking, and the procedure must be carried out by a registered veterinary surgeon who can administer anaesthetic to free the animal from unnecessary pain.

The poodle, according to Leung, has now recovered and appears to be happier than before. It will be put up for adoption upon a court order if Chau does not appeal within 14 days.