Time is up for our Pok Fu Lam support centre – a great loss
Last week we were informed that we are required to vacate our SPCA centre in Pok Fu Lam by the end of February. Sadly this will mean the end of this trusted facility. Although not unexpected it was still a shock after all this time. However we remain deeply indebted to our landlord, Swire Properties, for allowing us to remain and to operate there for so long. The pressure is now on for us to find other premises that can fulfill our needs and help us to save more animals
Currently SPCA’s Pok Fu Lam Centre provides many support services for much of the behind the scenes work we do, as well as being an adoption centre and veterinary clinic.
Whilst we never undervalue having another outlet for animal adoption (the centre currently has dogs, cats and some small furries, usually hamsters) waiting for adoption, this centre has been invaluable for many reasons – the veterinary clinic for instance not only services patients living in the area but also provides veterinary care for Hong Kong Dog Rescue who currently occupy the sister site over the road – they also face the trauma of having to relocate. We also have surgical and holding facilities that service our Community Dog Programme – where construction site, loosely owned and community dogs are held prior to and whilst recovering from their neutering surgeries.
Many of the public are unaware of the many issues that surround animal cruelty prosecution cases and this centre has been a ‘god send’ – giving us extra room to help look after the victims and cater to their needs over the many months (sometimes years) they are with us during their rehabilitation and the court process.
It is where we keep many of our social welfare cases; for instance those referred by various government departments such as Social Welfare and Correctional Services, or from others such as NGOs working in the field. These can be the dogs of domestic violence victims or those serving time in prison. One such dog, ‘Fei Jai’, is about to be reunited with his master following his release from prison tomorrow.
Part of the centre is used as a recuperation unit for cases of infectious diseases – unfortunately rescuing dogs from the street and Hong Kong’s pet trade means that respiratory and fungal skin disease are not uncommon and so many dogs require isolation.
It has been a wonderful facility in that it has allowed us the flexibility to react to the unforeseen and temporarily hold dogs who are often the unknown victims who have also been affected by tragedy or disaster.
The Pok Fu Lum Centre has served the SPCA and Hong Kong well over the years. In 1999 the SPCA took up the lease of both of the sites– having a clinic, boarding kennels and the back of house support located there. Indeed our longest staying prosecution case victim resided there with us whilst the case went through the court process. A characterful ‘Westie’ (read into that what you may) was one of the survivors of a case involving serious neglect and a pet shop which went to appeal. Eventually after two years the case was finally closed and we placed him in a new home. I often think it is ironic that those animals who are the victims of the crimes committed are themselves, incarcerated as exhibits in order to convict the perpetrator. (This anomaly remains the subject of discussion with the Department of Justice)
What I have enjoyed most about Pok Fu Lam, is that it is the place where you put a face to the animals we discuss at daily briefings and which are contained in the welfare and Inspectorate reports. I was actually fortunate to adopt one our long staying prosecution exhibit dogs who spent eight months in this facility, enduring a series of treatments and operations – I don’t think she will miss it the same as we will somehow!
Our present focus must now be to identify another premise or premises as soon as possible so we may continue on fulfilling our responsibilities to the animals.
A good example of a ‘Pok Fu Lam’ Dog is Princess, this big, gentle St Bernard. She has a great character and loves people despite the suffering she endured. Her owner was prosecuted for keeping her on a filthy, faeces covered balcony, emaciated and with no water. She stayed in PFL for 4.5 months before her case was resolved and she was released and passed to adoption. She was first placed in a home in Dec 2008 with a nice family but was returned to us in May 2009 due to environmental and the management needs of this type of large sized breed. Princess remains very sociable with people and is still looking for a home.