Shelter founder puts savings and heart into helping Hong Kong’s stray dogs
Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter founder Angela Chan Ka-yee has made it her duty to ensure once abandoned canines are well looked after
It is a baking hot Saturday afternoon, and at a dog shelter in a remote village in Fanling’s Lau Shui Heung, large outdoor misting fans run at full-bore to provide much-needed coolness for its furry inhabitants.
Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter founder Angela Chan Ka-yee said the canines, especially the old ones, are prone to heat-related illnesses during the sizzling days of summer.
“We have to keep them cool,” she said, adding that her charges cope with winter better as they can simply huddle together for warmth.
Making sure the once abandoned dogs under her roof live happy and healthy lives has been Chan’s foremost duty since she established the shelter in 2011. Before retiring, she worked in the aviation industry.
The kennel in the New Territories now offers sanctuary to 338 homeless dogs.
Chan and her team of volunteers feed and clean the canines and also tend to those that are ill or injured.
“Every dog here has a name. Each of them has its own story,” the founder said.
Two-year-old Fuman, whose name in Cantonese means “miserable life”, had a large infected wound filled with maggots when he was discovered.
Many did not believe he would make it. But Chan persisted with the treatment and took him to the veterinary surgeon and cared for him day in, day out for eight months before the dog finally recovered.
“It’s like rekindling a doused candle,” she said.
Chan, together with the homeless dog shelter, has been nominated by the South China Morning Post for its Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.
The Post has recommended her for the Compassion Ambassador award, which honours people who serve and help others passionately.
Chan said she had been saddened by the sight of sick stray dogs scavenging through trash for food.
It also grieved her that many newborn puppies were abandoned.
“They are lives!” she said. “In such a rich society like Hong Kong, they should be cared for.”
The shelter has given many dogs a home. Members of the pack here are sterilised to keep them from breeding.
While encouraged by the positive response of the community, Chan hoped the charity could get more support.
“We need a lot of dog food,” she said.
The canine haven, set up with Chan’s own savings, once ran into difficulties and the retiree had to sell her two small houses in neighbouring Ta Kwu Ling in 2014 to pay off the snowballing debts.
But she pledged the charity would remain a lifelong home for the animals.
“I won’t give them away if they won’t have better lives. I don’t want them to become guard dogs at warehouses,” Chan said.