Piano teacher Clara Chan Chuck-ying, 48, has been rescuing and re-homing stray dogs for nearly 17 years. She explains why the Year of the Dog should be used to improve education about pets and to introduce tougher animal welfare laws. Sometimes, when I think about humans and dogs, I prefer dogs. Dogs don't lie to you. They are what they are. They don't care whether you are rich or poor. They love you unconditionally. It is a very good feeling, the way that dogs love you. It is just incomparable. With people, it is always give and take, give and take. The problem is that people count too much how much they give you and what you give in return. Dogs are less trouble in that respect. I have serious problems all the time with my family. They think that I spend too much money on rescuing and too much time on the dogs. I told my father: 'What do you want for me? Do you want me to be happy because I am very happy with these animals. They give me a lot'. People say: 'It must cost you so much to look after these dogs'. But I am very grateful because of their love for me. I used to be like a lot of Hong Kong people. I used to buy expensive, brand-name things. But since I began rescuing the animals it has changed my point of view on life. I am much, much happier. I feel I am spending my money in a much better way. It is still selfish because it makes me happy. You look at the dogs and they are so content. It makes you feel so glad you are able to look after them and that they have a good life. I have five dogs living in my Discovery Bay flat, which is about 800 sq ft. It would be better if I had a bigger home with a garden but I do a lot of hiking and walking so they get a lot of exercise and when they come back to the flat, they just want to lie down. The dogs I keep are ones I couldn't find a home for. Some are scared of people, one has been abused badly, some are too energetic. People can't handle them and it is not easy to find a suitable home for them. I have been rescuing and re-homing stray dogs for nearly 17 years. When I see a dog abandoned, they look so poor and I feel so sorry for them. Hong Kong is a concrete city. A lot of people think if they abandon the dog, it will survive by itself. In Hong Kong, there is no natural environment for dogs. They have no shelter, no food. A lot of them get beaten or run over by buses. Sometimes you can see bloodstains on their legs. It is terrible. When they look at you, you know what they want. When you look at those dogs, you can tell that they are saying 'Help me'. It is impossible to leave them. They can't survive and they die cruelly. Abandoned dogs become sick and they don't look nice. Then people treat them even more badly. They are cruel to them, they beat them and they even pour hot water over them. It is better for them to be put to sleep rather than left to suffer and die like that. I am worried that more dogs will be abandoned because of the Year of the Dog. Hong Kong people don't have the time to look after dogs. The reason they want dogs is often not right. They just want them as a present or as a symbol of wealth, or maybe a guard dog. People buy dogs because they are cute. It only takes a few months for the reality to set in. When they are puppies, they are cute. When they are not puppies, they are not cute anymore, unless they are very small ones - but those dogs are often yappy and people often can't stand their noise after a while. We need more education, we need stronger regulations on pet shops and we need legislation to prosecute people who abuse animals. A dog should be treated like a member of the family. They need a social life. They need their owners to spend time with them. They need to be cared for when they are sick. A dog is for a lifetime, and if you take one into your home, it will give you so much love in return.