A pet dog has been crushed to death in front of its owner and her two young children in the second attack by a huge python in Sai Kung West Country Park in less than a fortnight.
Katie Heyring told of how her family pet, Charlie, was killed by the five-metre-long snake as she was out walking near Pak Tam Chung with son Kaspar, five, and daughter Kaia, seven, and their four other dogs on Saturday.
Heyring, an art dealer from Britain, said they had tried to fight off the huge python by hitting it with a walking stick, but when she realised her dog had died, she was forced to leave it in the snake's grip and return home with her children, aged five and seven, and other dogs.
The incident comes a fortnight after a couple fought off a python that had attacked their dog in the same country park. The spot is also very close to where three other such attacks on dogs - one of them fatal - have occurred since 2006.
Now Heyring, 41, is urging dog owners not to let their pets off the leash while out walking in the countryside. She said she and her children and pets were 20 minutes down a path that forked off from the Family Trail when the python struck.
"It was massive … easily about five metres, because Charlie was a big dog of about 28kg," Heyring said. "It happened so quickly [within] a few seconds."
She said she hit the python with a walking stick, but the more she did so, the more the snake constricted around the dog.
"It was terrifying. The children were screaming and the other dogs were barking," she said.
"After about a minute, Charlie stopped squealing and I knew that was it … We are all very upset. Charlie was about 18 months old and a lovely dog."
Heyring, who has lived in Hong Kong for two years, said she later returned to the spot with police, but there was no sign of the python nor her dog.
"It was horrific to witness it and to feel so helpless," she said. "I had my husband's diving knife in the backpack because I had read about the previous snake attack, but the python was just colossal and I was so scared it would turn on the kids. My youngest is about Charlie's size."
Dave Willott, a snake catcher in Sai Kung, said the python that attacked Charlie could be the same snake behind the three previous attacks. He advised dog owners to keep their pets on the leash while out in the countryside as pythons were ambush predators that lay in wait for prey.
He also suggested keeping handy a small bottle of alcohol, which could be sprayed at or poured into the python's mouth or nose to make it loosen its grip.
An Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department spokesman yesterday said it had not received any report of the incident and that it would contact the dog owner for information.
There have been at least two reported python attacks in recent weeks. Pet owner Courtney Link saved her dog, which was bitten by a five-metre-long python, by stabbing the snake with a pocket knife .
In Quarry Bay, a Burmese python ended up on the promenade , much to residents' alarm, after torrential rains may have washed it down the hillsides. Non-venomous but with a powerful grip, the snake bit a handler in the leg as it was being taken away to a wildlife sanctuary last week.