Cops push helping hands for animals

Local | Phoebe Ng 26 Jan 2018

Phoebe Ng

Police have called on Hongkongers to take part in a one-arm push-up challenge to raise money for an animal charity and stamp out animal cruelty.

The campaign, which will begin on Sunday, encourages people nominated through social media hashtags to film themselves doing three one-arm push-ups and donate HK$128.

The police force chose one-arm push-ups as they not only present the perfect opportunity to showcase their fitness, but also resemble tripod dogs, which are dogs with only three legs.

"We would like to highlight how much abandoned animals need our help and increase Hongkongers' empathy," said Crystal Ng Chui-ting, acting senior superintendent for the Community Relations Bureau. "These animals brave their adversity with courage."

The campaign will run until April 7 and conclude with a 250-strong team of elite policemen attempting to break the world record for the most people performing one-arm push-ups.

All proceeds will be used to help the Society for Abandoned Animal, which relies solely on private donations.

El Chan Suk-kuen, founder of SAA, said: "I hope the campaign can be a wake-up call -- animals do not talk and need our help."

It is part of the police force's Animal Watch Scheme, which combats animal cruelty.

Dennis Cheng Wai-kin, acting senior superintendent of the Support Bureau, admitted that curbing animal cruelty is a challenge. "Most of the time we have to rely on circumstantial evidence and the injured animal," he said.

Animal cruelty cases and the number of people arrested have been on the rise for the past three years.

Last year, police dealt with 80 animal cruelty cases, with 45 suspects arrested. In 2016, there were only 69 cases and 28 arrests.

Animal abuse cases are handled by the criminal investigation department. Apart from encouraging vets and the public to report any suspected abuse, it also works closely with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Training for frontline staff has also been strengthened, both on-the-job and in police training schools.

The SAA houses more than 70 cats, 130 dogs and many other animals, a lot of which have disabilities. The charity also provides medical treatment and arranges adoptions.

"Animals are prone to abandonment after growing old or developing disabilities," Chan said.

For example, dogs can lose their legs via cancer, car accidents or congenital deformities; while cats may lose their eyesight due to plague.

It costs more than HK$700,000 a month to run the charity, and Chan said: "It is not an easy task. We walk with the animals until the end."

While the campaign has not set a fund-raising target, Superintendent Ng encouraged the public to lend a helping hand: "The more the merrier."

A star-studded opening ceremony will be held at Stanley Plaza on Sunday, where citizens will be able to take photos with officers from elite police squads, including the counter-terrorism response unit and airport security unit.

As a special treat, they will also be able to have their picture snapped with retired police dog Barry.

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