Monday, December 12, 2005

Dog Shooting On the Peak, 1927

A couple of months ago I blogged on Simon World about the nasty habit of the Guangzhou authorities of clubbing unregistered dogs to death, often times in front of their owners (who were unable or unwilling to pay the RMB 10,000 fee to register them).

But little did I know that a comparable practice existed in Hong Kong some eighty years ago, although the licensing fees were far lower. Here in the minutes of a Legco Meeting from 1st September 1927, during the tenure of Governor Cecil Clementi, I find the following report:
Hon. Mr. D. G. M. BERNARD asked the following question:-

Will the Government cause an enquiry to be held into the circumstances connected with the shooting of dogs at Jardine's Corner, Peak, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, the 23rd and 24th July, having due regard to the people using the roads and the necessity or otherwise of such drastic action?

The COLONIAL SECRETARY [Mr. W.T. Southorn, C.M.G., Southorn Gardens in Wanchai was named after him - Ed.] in reply, stated - The Government has caused full enquiries to be made into the occurrences referred to in the first part of the Honourabl Member's question. The shooting near Jardine's Corner was carried out by experienced Police Officers as the result of a complaint from a Peak resident of the danger to children from the presence of so many unmuzzled dogs in that neighborhood, and the Government much regrets that by an error of judgment the shooting took place in the presence of children and that one child received a slight scratch [! - Ed.] apparently from a ricochet or a piece of stone. Orders have been issued that every possible care is to be taken to avoid the shooting of dogs in the presence of children, but it is obvious that the presence od spectators cannot always be avoided. The Government much regrets the necessity for undertaking the unpleasant duty of shooting dogs, but this necessity is forced upon it by the wholesale disregard of the law by dog-owners in this Colony. Among these law-breakers are to be numbered many Peak residents It must be within the knowledge of all Honourable Members that, even since the occurrences referred to, dog-owners on the Peak and elsewhere still permit their dogs to roam about unmuzzled. As to the necessity for drastic action on the Peak as well as elsewhere it does not seem necessary to add anything to the bare statement of the fact that no less than 20 dogs from the Peak have been reported to the Police as having bitten people since the 1st January, 1926, that there were 184 reported cases of persons being bitten by dogs in Hong Kong Island since that date, 11 reported cases of rabies and 11 reported cases of hydrophobia. The risk of the terrible disease of hydrophobia arising from the presence of unmuzzled dogs in a Colony infected with rabies appears to be quite inadequately appreciated.
Well, there you have it - the government making it its business fairly unapologetically to kill (oops, cull, dogs). In an historical sense, then, the current Peak poisoner is simply filling a void left by the government for some years since this policy lapsed. That iniquitous person, though, is probably an irate jogger annoyed by the frequent islands of dog droppings found on every path on the Peak...

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