A SPATE of dog poisonings in two parts of Hong Kong is terrorising pet owners, who charge that police and authorities have been insensitive to their pleas for action. At least two dozen dogs were poisoned on Lamma Island during October and November, according to island residents. Area veterinarians report treating nearly a dozen other Lamma dogs for suspected poisoning over the Christmas period. Meanwhile, another spate of poisonings has targeted pets on The Peak, where at least half a dozen dogs were believed to have been exposed to a different toxin in Bowen Road last month. Two more dogs have since been treated for ingesting poison by Andrew Baker at the Hong Kong Veterinary Clinic. ''It's the same poison and, most likely, the same madman putting it out,'' Mr Baker said. Several owners said they had reported the poisonings to police, yet the police insist they have no reports on file. Even if they had, it is unlikely that they would investigate, as killing pets is not considered a crime in the territory. ''Killing an animal, as far as I'm aware, is not defined as a crime by any code in Hong Kong,'' said Barry Bousfield, senior veterinary officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. ''There seems to be an outbreak every two or three years, but there's really nothing we can do. It has to go through the police.'' Police spokeswoman Miranda Lo confirmed that no crime is committed. Charges of triad involvement and racism have been raised by the expatriate community, which feels targeted by the poisoning. On Lamma Island, vets and residents estimated that 95 per cent of the poisonings involved pets owned by non-Chinese. ''It does seem to be a campaign against the gweilos, '' said John Fox, a long-time Lamma island resident who reported the poisoning of his dog, Champagne, to island police in early December. ''I haven't heard back from them and, to be honest, don't thinkthey've shown any effort.'' Mr Baker believes the poisonings have been malicious. In one case a dog died from ingesting baited meat on Bowen Road. Mr Baker also treated three other dogs for the same poison on the same road during the Christmas holiday. ''We put messages on the radio, try to warn people, but there is little that we can do,'' he said. ''It's up to the police.'' Lamma vet Hans de Vries, who opened the island's first veterinary clinic in November, said he started posting notices warning local pet owners to beware of and report any poisoning, but was advised not to do so by island police. Local vets are helpless to treat the poisoning caused by a herbicide that causes vomiting, diarrhoea, internal bleeding and death by respiratory failure. Most symptoms appear long after the original poisoning. The same herbicide, banned in many countries, can be lethal in very small doses. An effective weed killer, it is widely used by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, which is also responsible for its regulation. Agriculture officer Steven Lai said the herbicide is sold without restriction in local stores. Apart from mandating certain concentrations, Hong Kong does not regulate its use or possession. ''It's among several pesticides that should be banned in Hong Kong,'' Lisa Hopkins, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, said.