Animals

Hong Kong trainer who hit dog with metal rod 14 times gets 120 hours of community service

Li Wing-hong, 36, tells court he was under great pressure, but magistrate says ‘you can’t vent it on the dog’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 10:47pm

An experienced dog trainer who whacked a shiba inu with a metal rod 14 times during feeding last October was given 120 hours of community service by a magistrate on Friday.

Li Wing-hong, 36, told Kowloon City Court he had been under a lot of pressure from work at the time and was only trying to tame the animal, who had been aggressive towards him. He said he hit the dog on the spur of the moment.

But magistrate Ko Wai-hung said there were many ways to train a dog without leaving the animal psychologically harmed.

“You may have experienced difficulties in your business but you can’t vent it on the dog,” he said. “The animal is innocent, it can’t tell when you’re happy or unhappy.”

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The dog’s owner, surnamed Wong, said he respected the court’s decision but could not forgive Li.

Videos played in court showed Li presenting a bowl of food to the shiba inu. “OK, eat,” Li said.

When the dog did not comply, Li was seen hitting the animal repeatedly with a long metal stick held in both hands.

The dog then backed out of the camera frame but was heard whining as cheerful piano music played in the background.

Li’s business partner at the Hong Kong Dog School called police after seeing the footage.

The rod measured 92cm, according to police.

The shiba inu was later taken to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for a medical examination, which found no surface injuries.

Earlier this month, Li pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to animals.

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The court heard he had not received any formal dog training.

Letters submitted in mitigation presented Li as a good trainer who owners would entrust their dogs to.

Defence counsel Tobias Cheng said his client was remorseful and the abuse was an isolated incident that did not leave the animal with obvious injuries.

He also noted that the dog had been aggressive towards his client, and said the shiba inu was a stubborn breed difficult to train.

Li was recommended by a probation officer for 80 hours of community service.

But the magistrate increased that to 120 hours to reflect the severity of the offence.

“He was hitting the dog without reservation,” Ko said. “If the defendant plans to stay in the industry, he should consider getting proper training.”