Members of animal-welfare organisations will meet this month to discuss strategies to promote their alternative to catching and killing stray and feral dogs in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong No Kill City Forum, a coalition of 23 animal-welfare groups, is looking to find a way to convince district councillors and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) officials that a trap-neuter-and-return (TNR) programme is the best way to solve the problem. On average, 12,000 are rounded up and euthanised in the city every year, according to Fiona Woodhouse, deputy director of animal welfare at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is one of the forum members. A large percentage of those are stray and feral, she said. A TNR programme would see dogs treated, de-sexed, vaccinated and released. At least five feral dogs, with one village mongrel in tow, ran free along Hung Shing Ye Beach on Lamma Island last Tuesday night. 'This scene here is replicated throughout Hong Kong, every beach and every country park,' said forum founder John Wedderburn. 'If we can show the system of TNR works here, then there's no reason it shouldn't be applied everywhere else, too.' There is not unanimous support for the TNR proposal, however, according to a department spokesman. He said: 'In 2008, AFCD and SPCA visited 18 district councils to consult members ... Nine [councils] found the proposed scheme acceptable in principle, seven raised objection and two did not hold particular views. 'Full community support is essential for any TNR programme. AFCD is working with animal-welfare organisations to refine the details of the proposed programme.' At least a few of the feral dogs on Lamma Island last week were already believed to have been neutered and returned illegally. 'Some of them [on Lamma Island] have been caught, de-sexed and put back by concerned members of the public,' said Dr Wedderburn. 'The government warns them strongly they will face prosecution. If the dog bites somebody certainly, but even if the dog is wandering around and the government control picks that dog up, and finds that it's microchipped in the name of that person, that person will be prosecuted.' On Thursday the forum will discuss how to break through resistance to the programme, and make it legal. 'It's probably more of the same: press conferences, events, road shows, letters to the papers, giving presentations to legislative councillors and also to the district councillors,' said Dr Wedderburn. 'The AFCD has to agree, but we also want the general public to understand.' There are TNR programmes for dogs elsewhere in Asia - such as Jaipur, India, and Bali, Indonesia, said Dr Woodhouse. Supporters stress that TNR would help protect against rabies, as dogs are vaccinated. A de-sexed dog placed back with its pack acted as a decoy and breeding was reduced, Dr Wedderburn said. Moreover, feral dogs had about a two-to-three-year lifespan because of illnesses and dangers in the wild. 'Dog lovers, dog haters, nobody in their right mind would like these dogs to be here,' said Dr Wedderburn. 'So we're really just talking about what the best, most effective way is of getting rid of them. 'The obvious way, which has been done for the last 50 years, is to catch them and kill them. But AFCD has been doing that for years. Just look around you. They're still here.'