21 August 2019
The stray dog on the railway track. An online petition is demanding a full MTR accounting of the incident. Photo: Facebook
The stray dog on the railway track. An online petition is demanding a full MTR accounting of the incident. Photo: Facebook

A dog’s life: Is there more to it than meets the eye?

The MTR Corp., under fire over a train running over a dog, is at the center of a debate on how civilized and humane Hong Kong society is.

The company has been condemned as a animal unfriendly corporation and for showing Hong Kong, a fast-paced international city, is lagging where animal rights are concerned.

With people paying more attention to animal rights after some animal cruelty cases were reported in recent years, the Hong Kong government has been seen to be neglecting the issue, leaving it to the public.

But some Hongkongers, for whom making money tops their agenda, expressed a couldn’t-care-less view. One said, “it’s only a dog, and the MTR suspended service for eight minutes. That’s enough. Passengers will complain if the train was delayed for a longer time.”

In mainland internet forums, some netizens said Hong Kong people “seems to have nothing to do. It’s just a dog’s life. Hong Kong people shouldn’t stick with such issues.”  

But the MTR’s handling of the dog, and its failure to apologize for the incident, has raised hackles among concerned Hongkongers, 80,000 of whom have joined an online petition demanding a full investigation and accounting.

While scores of netizens wagged their finger at MTR, some people yesterday offered flowers and incense at the station where the mongrel was hit. At Fanling station, some passengers carried photos of the dog and banners that read: “Give justice to the doggy”.

People are planning another ceremony for the dog at the station on Saturday.

The dog’s death was first reported by passengers on Facebook. A video taken by a passenger showed MTR staff trying but failing to get the mongrel off the track.

The first unofficial MTR statement was a service update saying it was only a matter of time before the dog would be hit by a train. This came after Fanling station resumed service after workers tried in vain to rescue the dog.

But two official MTR statements came more than 24 hours after the incident.

It first said train service was suspended when station officers saw the dog and they tried to rescue it. The dog then hid under the Sheung Shui station platform and the staff believed it was safe. 

Then the dog was spotted at Fanling station. An approaching train was stopped for a search of the dog. After the train departed, the dog was found dead on the track. 

The MTR stopped short of admitting the dog was run over by the train.

In contrast to Hong Kong, other countries seem to show more respect for animal rights.

In Taiwan recently, a train was stopped for two and a half minutes when a conductor saw a dog standing in front of it. The delay did not draw complaints from passengers and the conductor waited until the dog went away.

The conductor said it was his responsibility to ensure the safety of animals. He believed all train conductors would do the same.

In New York, the subway system halted service on one of its lines for around two hours in August last year so that two kittens could be rescued from the tracks, according to reports.

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EJ Insight writer

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