Dedicated volunteers and generous public donations have been keeping the Hong Kong Saving Cat and Dog Association (HKSCDA) afloat for a little more than 10 years.
The local animal shelter has a motto: “Never kill, never abandon”. Since it was set up in 2007, it has saved more than 2,000 cats and dogs from ill-treatment or homelessness. As founder Linda Tse told Young Post, “give up” simply isn’t a phrase in her vocabulary.
“We’re like parents to these animals; we’ve made a commitment to take care of them,” she said. “We’ll keep doing that, no matter what.”
Tse is able to keep her promise to the critters thanks to the unwavering support of volunteers like 19-year-old Rachel Wong, who has helped out at the shelter for more than a year. She knows the story of almost of almost every animal there.
“Bone was kicked viciously on the stomach, and his front limb was chopped off,” Wong explained of one cat. “Now, Bone has a major fear of people – but we’re working on gaining his trust.”
Of all the animal charities in Hong Kong, Wong was drawn to HKSCDA because of its commitment to providing medical treatment for every animal that comes through its doors, regardless of their age or health. Unlike some of the more established NGOs, HKSCDA never puts a healthy animal down. “I definitely took these principles into account,” said Wong. “But I also appreciated the fact that, other than our driver and manager, everyone here is a volunteer. They devote their time for free.”
Wong has seen all sorts of unusual cases come and go in her time helping out at the shelter, and told us about just a few of them.
“Charles was found with his tail tangled in fish wire, and a fish hook in his stomach,” she said of one cat. “Thankfully, he recovered and has been adopted.”
Kaylee, another cat, was hit by a vehicle, and the lower half of her body was permanently paralysed. “Fortunately, she has learned to live with it, and is very playful.”
The stories go on: “We received 20 cats when their elderly owner passed away and his spouse couldn’t afford to care for them all. Some are still here receiving treatment.”
Wong then gestured to a large cage full of young cats. “Those kittens were rescued from a breeding farm. A few of them are very weak, and we’re not sure if they’re going to make it – but we’re still treating them and hoping they’ll pull through.”
Of course, Tse and Wong know they can’t always save every animal, but they consider each death a tragedy, and make sure to give the animals a proper funeral.
Keeping things running
Keeping the shelter running is no easy task. Volunteers work from 11am to 8pm cleaning the kennels and taking care of each animal’s basic needs. The volunteers show the animals as much love and affection as possible, too. This not only improves their well-being, but makes them more comfortable around humans so that they can better find homes with new families. That is, after all, the ultimate goal at HKSCDA.
Adoption days are held twice a week, and each potential new owner is vetted to ensure they are up to the task. Once the humans have been approved, one of the cats or dogs at the shelter can finally begin a new life.
“We miss them a lot, even though we joke about never wanting to see them again,” Wong said.
“Knowing they can finally settle down, surrounded by people who love them, is the most heartening thing,” Tse added.
Her dream of homing all the city’s cats and dogs is an expensive one, and the shelter relies on donations to cover its monthly expenses that average about HK$300,000.
“Funding is our biggest difficulty,” Wong said, because not everyone sees the point of helping animals, “but no life is inferior to human life”.
Hello, furry friend
Before Young Post left the shelter, Wong had two more introductions to make. “This is Ball Ball and that’s Kim,” she said. “They’re the clingiest cats around here; you’ll have a hard time getting them off your lap!” She wasn’t wrong. Anyone who visits HKSCDA will have a hard time leaving without at least one new furry family member.