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More than 70,000 sign petition backing Hong Kong pharmacy cat accused of scratching mainland boy

Online petition to “save” Porsche from forced quarantine garnered tens of thousands of signatures in just 24 hours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 11:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 11:03am

An irritated cat named “Porsche” who is accused of scratching a little boy at a Hong Kong pharmacy has become the unlikely catalyst for a stand-off between animal lovers and authorities.

An online petition to “save” Porsche from forced quarantine – a required precautionary step when a pet bites or scratches someone – garnered more than 68,000 signatures in just 24 hours.

The caterwauling began when Porsche, affectionately dubbed “store manager” by staff and customers of the pharmacy at On Tat Estate in Kwun Tong, was blamed for a 5mm scratch behind the ear of the five-year-old boy when his mother, from the mainland, took him there last Friday.

Staff at the pharmacy said she returned half an hour later to lodge a complaint about the cat, calling in police and paramedics to attend to the scratch.

“We didn’t see Porsche scratching the woman’s son when she was buying medicine,” storekeeper Karen Chan Hoi-man said.

The mother was back at the pharmacy the next day with her son, this time accompanied by an officer from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) to take the cat away for quarantine.

Under the Rabies Ordinance, the department can detain any animal for observation after such an incident.

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“Police told us that CCTV footage showed Porsche didn’t harm anyone,” said Silver Chan Ka-yan, another store attendant.

A regular customer vouched for Porsche’s character when the Post visited the pharmacy on Tuesday: “If you don’t annoy her, she will never attack or injure anyone.”

As Porsche was not in the shop on Saturday, apparently due to the “stress” caused by the incident, the AFCD officer left a note saying someone from the department would be back on Monday to pick up the cat, according to the shopkeeper.

“Porsche lost her appetite, starting from Saturday. On Monday, she even refused drinking water and spat out dried, shredded squid, her favourite snack,” Silver Chan said.

Fearing that they might not be able to get Porsche back from quarantine, her owner refused to hand over the feisty feline to the AFCD. Instead, she was sent to a private vet for observation on Monday.

As the story made its rounds on social media, Hong Kong’s animal lovers rallied behind Porsche, with tens of thousands adding their signatures to an online petition launched on Monday by Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, who urged the AFCD to give the cat a free pass.

The department said on Tuesday that as Porsche was not feeling up to scratch, it would allow her to receive treatment and be quarantined at a private veterinary clinic.

“The department will remain in close contact with the veterinary clinic and closely monitor the cat’s condition,” a spokeswoman said.

The official policy is to return animals to their owners if they are given the all-clear after seven days of quarantine.