A guide-dog instructor has been given custody of two dogs after a seven-month battle with the Hong Kong Guide Dog Association (HKGDA), which has given up its claims to the animals.
The association yesterday issued a statement saying it had decided to give custody of the pair, Google and Iris, to its former instructor, Raymond Cheung Wai-man, for his work in training them, although it still disputed ownership the dogs.
'Although [the] dispute regarding the ownership and custody of Google and Iris remains unresolved, in recognition of his contribution to the training of the dogs, HKGDA has decided to assign sole custody of Google and Iris to Mr Raymond Cheung,' the statement said.
The row broke out in December when Cheung left the association claiming ownership of both dogs, which he said were personal gifts from the Taiwan Guide Dog Association and not intended for the HKGDA.
The association, which said the dogs belonged to the Hong Kong public, threatened to take legal action if Cheung refused to return the dogs, which remained in his keep.
Cheung was finally given custody a day before he celebrates Google's 'graduation' as a guide dog in his new organisation, the Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services.
Fanny Chan Yim-fun, who fostered Google until Cheung left the association, said she was allowed to visit the dog only twice after the ownership row broke out.
She said she would attend today's graduation, though it does not mean she agreed with his actions.
'I only want to see the dog. I miss it, she said.
She said that Google was taken away after Cheung requested a seven-day training programme for the dog in December. Cheung then sent an e-mail saying he had left the association and he owned the two dogs.