Photo by Markus Winkler
Hong Kong Dog Rescue has recently received more residents as owners choose to leave the country.
Recent weeks have been restless for the workers at the rescue house, with over 100,000 people departing from the international financial hub this year due to the city’s zero-tolerance policy.
Burdensome quarantine requirements have resulted in the reduction of airline flights to and from Hong Kong, and people who want to fly with their pets are left with a few options plus longer waiting lists and higher costs of up to tens of thousands of dollars.
So many have decided to leave their pets, swamping dog shelters operating at total capacity.
“We have seen an increase in the number of dog owners abandoning their dogs because they are moving out,” said Eva Sit, a shelter employee. “With COVID, it’s harder than before to travel with your pet.”
A domestic helper surrendered the latest residents, Cassius and Roxy, in the shelter on March 3. But with her employers flying to Britain and choosing not to come back to Hong Kong, she had no choice.
“When the helper came to drop them off … she cried really hard because obviously, she loved them a lot,” said Sit. “She had taken care of them since they were puppies. And it’s not her responsibility, but her employer’s responsibility.”
Government-issued animal health certificates, a requirement for pets to travel, increased to about 9,000 in 2021 from approximately 3,700 in 2020. Around 1,500 certificates have been issued this year so far, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department.
Pet travel agency Pet Export Vet stated that it was bombarded with thrice or quadruple more inquiries in the last two to three months and has momentarily halted accepting bookings. Two more pet travel agencies—Ferndale Kennels and Cattery—are available for booking; however, they have a greater price range.
On average, Hong Kong Dog Rescue receives ten abandoned dogs per month, said Sit. It is two times more than the pre-pandemic number of 5. Additionally, it runs out of space as fewer people want to adopt.
Opinions expressed by California Gazette contributors are their own.