A 52-year-old man has apologized for a hit-and-run incident that resulted in the death of a dog on a Hong Kong road recently, bowing to pressure from animal lovers.
The man, who bears the surname Cheung, was forced to come clean after he was tracked down by netizens in a coordinated group effort.
He is now facing legal action on animal cruelty charges.
Netizens circulated a video online that showed a van hitting a dog and fleeing from the scene. Then they sought information from the public regarding the identity of the driver.
Based on the leads, it was determined that Cheung was the errant motorist. Netizens posted details of the man and his family online and asked him to own up responsibility for the dog’s death.
The name-and-shame campaign forced Cheung to acknowledge his act and offer an apology, according to a Ming Pao Daily report.
The police, meanwhile, arrested him for animal cruelty. Cheung is now out on bail.
In a 7-second hit-and-run video which went viral, two mongrels could be seen walking on a road before a van appears and strikes one of the dogs.
The motorist flees from the scene, without bothering to stop and tend to the animal. It was revealed later that the dog died as a result of the accident.
In a bid to track down the driver, netizens shared the video online and asked for information.
From the car plate number, someone determined that a woman — who turned out to be Cheung’s wife — was associated with the vehicle.
An animal rights volunteer called the woman for a comment on the accident. “I am not available to talk about the incident, and I don’t want to reply,” Cheung’s wife is said to have responded.
The response made animal rights groups even more angry. Family pictures and other information on Cheung were then posted online.
Cheung and his wife live in a flat in Tong Yan San Tsuen. They have two children — a son and a daughter.
Following the online revelations, Cheung got in touch with a social media group and owned up responsibility for the dog’s death.
He said he regrets the incident and that he “hopes that people would forgive him”.
Cheung stressed that he was alone in the vehicle when the accident happened, and that his family members were not involved in the case.
He then urged netizens to respect the privacy of his family members and not make their personal details public.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said the online campaign can be regarded as cyber-bullying as netizens made the information on the driver’s family members public.
The family members could file a civil lawsuit for defamation, he said.
Under the “duty to stop in case of accidents” clause in section 56 of the Road Traffic Ordinance, a driver has to report a case to the police within 24 hours even if his vehicle hits animals or other objects on the road.
The maximum penalty for cruelty to animals is three years imprisonment.
As for the question whether Cheung is guilty, it will depend on whether there is proof that he intentionally hit the dog, Luk said.
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