A woman was arrested on Monday night in Hong Kong after an online video of a cat being trapped in a washing machine went viral.
The inquiry into the video came hot on the heels of another suspected animal cruelty case in which two dogs were believed to have been poisoned at a Hong Kong park in as many weeks, with one pet lover offering a HK$100,000 (US$12,900) reward for information leading to the culprit’s capture.
The video of the cat shows the pet sitting inside a washing machine before its lid is closed and the appliance is turned on. The machine runs for about 10 seconds, during which time the animal can barely be seen moving around inside.
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Eventually the apparently distressed cat can be seen pressing its muzzle against the transparent lid, at which point the machine is opened and the animal – which is not visibly wet – immediately leaps out.
One caption in the video appeared to suggest the animal had defecated where it was not supposed to, while a second one referred to the animal as a “frightened little fat girl”, along with three clown head emojis.
The cat owner, a 28-year-old woman who lives in Chak Fai House in Tin Chak Estate in Tin Shui Wai, was arrested over cruelty to animals on Monday evening. She was detained at Yuen Long Police Station for questioning.
A police source confirmed she was the elder sister of Carmaney Wong Ka-man, the 2019 Miss Hong Kong winner.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which made a report to police, earlier said it had received several inquiries in connection with the video clip.
“The SPCA is against any irresponsible behaviour of pet owners that may cause harm or injury to their pet,” its spokeswoman said. She urged members of the public with information to make a report to police, or to call the society’s 24-hour hotline at 2711 1000.
Separately, officers are investigating suspected poisonings that killed two dogs after their owners took them for a walk at Cyberport Waterfront Park in Pok Fu Lam on January 24 and Sunday.
The latest case involved a Labrador retriever, which died after being taken to the park on Sunday morning. The three-year-old dog was let off its leash in the park while its 47-year-old owner kept an eye on it.
“After returning home to a nearby residential area, the dog developed breathing difficulties,” a police source said.
It was then taken to a veterinary clinic where it died around midday. Suspecting it was poisoned, its owner made a report to police at around 4.30pm.
The source said no superficial injuries were found on the dog. “A necropsy and toxicological examination will be conducted to determine if the animal had been poisoned,” he added.
The January 24 case involved a 10-year-old poodle, which fell ill after being taken to the same park. Upon returning home, the dog vomited, experienced cramps and also had difficulty breathing. It too was taken to a veterinary clinic, where it died the same day.
Another pet owner told officers who were conducting inquiries in the park that her dog had found a piece of luncheon meat inside a bush at the park on Sunday. The luncheon meat was seized for examination, according to police.
According to the SPCA, a person had offered a reward of HK$100,000 for help in capturing whoever was behind the Cyberport poisonings. Those with information should call the society, or contact police.
The spokeswoman said SPCA inspectors had put up posters and stickers in the vicinity of the park since late January to remind owners to keep their pets leashed and watch them at all times.
“All pets should wear a basket muzzle to further reduce the risk of ingesting anything from the ground,” she said. “Should the owner observe any symptoms of their pets being poisoned or feeling unwell, please seek veterinary care at once.”
Between July 12 and 14 of 2020, three suspected dog poisonings were reported to police, also in Pok Fu Lam. The dogs’ owners told officers they had walked their pets in Cyberport Waterfront Park and nearby Victoria Road, after which their dogs fell ill and died.
In Hong Kong, cruelty to animals carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a fine of up to HK$200,000.