An animal shelter in Hong Kong was fined over HKD 200,000 (~ $25,000 USD) for its failure to comply with land regulations. The court decision might force the shelter to shut down because volunteers who work there could not afford such a heavy fine. If the shelter stopped operating, the 250 dogs and cats will be sent to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department where euthanasia awaits.
World Dog Alliance (WDA) wrote a letter of mitigation to the court urging the judge to consider a more lenient sentence given the non-profit nature of the shelter. With a lack of government resources and policies on animal welfare, volunteers often have to spend their savings to take care of street animals. Ironically, the Hong Kong government leaves no quarter clamping down on animal shelters, forcing them to shut down and thus killing the animals there.
Luckily, the animal volunteers started an online fundraising campaign and had successfully brought in enough money for the court fine. With the help of the general public, the shelter and the animals there are saved.
Champion for animal welfare in Hong Kong, Legislator Gary Chan, shares the same view with the public. He appreciates Hong Kong citizens’ love of animals and suggests that the Hong Kong government could have done better, or at least taken discretion, in this case. The animal shelter aims to take care of stray animals and the volunteers there never get paid. It is not ideal to see the government picking on animal shelters while turning a blind eye to cases of land use violation, mostly profit-making, in the same region. Finally, Gary Chan pledges that he will keep helping the animal shelter to apply for a change on land use.