Hong Kong police warn pet owners after two dogs eat poisoned bait in notorious Bowen Road

Officers find toxic chicken meat in four spots along trail that has a history of attacks stretching back 25 years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 11:16am

A dog poisoner has struck again in a scenic area of Hong Kong where up to 200 animals have been targeted, many with fatal results, stretching back at least 25 years.

Animal welfare workers and police warned people to be on the alert while walking their pets along Bowen Road after two dogs ate poisoned bait over the weekend.

The young mongrels, both bitches and with separate owners, were admitted to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s (SPCA) clinic in Wan Chai on Saturday morning within an hour of each other. They are both in stable condition.

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A veterinarian suspected poisoning after they showed symptoms such as vomiting, excessive drooling and loss of bladder control – one of them almost immediately and the other when it arrived home from a walk.

The owners are believed to have walked their dogs along the same stretch of Wan Chai Gap Road, a popular hillside jogging and walking path that connects Kennedy Road to the Bowen Road Fitness Trail.

“Inspectors and police visited the site and they eventually found three spots where poison bait had been laid within metres of one another,” an SPCA spokeswoman told the Post.

“The bait appeared to be chicken meat and it was thrown on the fringe of the road, near the slopes. The toxicity was so high that even the flies on it were dead.”

A fourth spot was discovered during a sweep of the area on Sunday. Police said they had removed all the suspicious bait and it would be used as evidence, while patrols would be stepped up in the area.

Inspectors and police continued to comb the hillsides on Sunday, erecting signs and passing out fliers advising dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead and, if possible, muzzled when passing through “high-risk areas”.

The SPCA also urged dog owners to be responsible and clean up after their pets, not ruling out that one of the motives behind the poisoning could be a “bad experience”.

The latest incident will stir dark memories of a time when the narrow mountain pass – which spans Mid-Levels to Happy Valley – and Black’s Link were the sites of dozens of animal poisonings.

The crimes continue today, although less frequently than in the 1990s and early 2000s as a result of more public awareness and law enforcement.

There were several high-profile poisonings over the decades. In 1997, Whisky, one of the Norfolk terriers belonging to the city’s last governor, Chris Patten, fell victim to poisoning on Bowen Road but managed to survive.

Despite stepped up patrols, enforcement, investigations and even the offer of a HK$160,000 reward for the culprit, the problem continues, albeit sporadically. The last Bowen Road poisoning took place over a year ago.

Pet owners are advised to take their dogs to a vet immediately if they suspect poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, trembling, breathing difficulties, convulsions or collapse.

Cruelty to animals carries a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to HK$200,000.