Dog on the tracks sparked a Hong Kong protest
- 23 August 2014
Residents of south China are often caricatured as enthusiastic eaters of dog meat.
But in Hong Kong, where the slaughter of dogs and cats is illegal, more than 100 distraught animal lovers have converged at the headquarters of the city's Mass Transit Railway Corp to protest against station staff allowing a train to run over a stray dog this week.
"We are very, very angry with them," Tam Tak Chi, a protest leader, told the BBC's China blog.
"I think the MTR Corporation has apologise and to tell the Hong Kong people what they will do to prevent this from happening in the future."
Mr Tam, himself an owner of a Golden Retriever and a King Charles Spaniel, said it was the first time a dog had been killed on Hong Kong's railway tracks.
This city of seven million people is well known for its intense pace of urban living and its tiny, expensive flats.
But there are many dog lovers here. Proud owners walking their well-dressed pet pooches, or pushing them in doggie strollers, are a common sight.
On Friday, animal rights activists demanded to know why trains were allowed to enter Fanling station on the East Rail line, when staff were already aware of the stray.
Mourners have laid flowers, petitions and performed traditional Chinese ceremonies at the station to remember the dog's life.
Some of them were photographed weeping profusely.
In protest, Mr Tam and other activists tried to jump onto the tracks at the station where the killing occurred.
They were restrained by station staff.
An online petition calling for justice for the yellow mixed-breed has collected nearly 90,000 signatures so far, according to public broadcaster RTHK.
The MTR Corporation has said it was "saddened" by the event.
The stray was first spotted on the tracks at a nearby overground station on Wednesday morning.
Trains were stopped from entering the station as staff tried to coax the dog to safety.
But they failed. One staff member was injured, the company said.
About 20 minutes later, the dog was spotted at Fanling station.
Staff stopped an oncoming train, but the animal could not be located.
The train was eventually allowed to pull into the station.
"After the train was subsequently allowed to depart, the dog was found dead on the track," the corporation said in a statement.
Its explanation has angered many pet lovers in Hong Kong.
The popular Apple Daily newspaper has published photos of the dog apparently trying to climb from the tracks onto the safety of the train platform, while staff and passengers watched.
In an online posting, one person who says he had tried to pick up the dog was told by station staff to step back.
"They way they shooed the dog away was ridiculous," said the anonymous poster. "The entire station was looking at the dog running for its life."
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Hong Kong has said it was concerned about the incident and believes it could have been handled better.
Animals have disrupted service on busy public transport networks in other cities.
In August 2013, services were halted on two of New York's subway lines for about two hours after a pair of pet kittens jumped onto the tracks in Brooklyn.
They were eventually rescued.
And last September, a cow wandered onto train tracks at a station in Somerset in the UK.
The morning rush hour service was reportedly disrupted for two hours.
The cow was later removed.
The MTR Corporation has promised to work with the SPCA to prevent animals from venturing onto its tracks in future.