The stowaway Thai dog. Photo: Facebook/Ha Wing-kin

A stowaway dog which managed to get on a cargo ship in Thailand and sail all the way to Hong Kong was put down by the government on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department confirmed that the dog had been euthanized as there were no vaccination certificates and it was suspected it came from a rabies-prone area, news website hk01.com reported.

Rabies is an acute infection of the central nervous system caused by the rabies virus. When humans are bitten, scratched or licked on broken skin by an infected animal, the virus in the saliva of the infected animal enters the human body through the wound and travels through nerves to the brain, leading to encephalitis.

The incident came to light after Hong Kong man Keith Ha Wing-kin posted a message with a dog photo on a Facebook group on Tuesday.

The post said the dog was lost and it went onboard a vessel in Laem Chabang, Thailand, on March 6 night and arrived in Hong Kong six days later. The dog was taken away by the AFCD officer. Ha wanted netizens to help find the dog’s owner.

Many animal lovers shared the post and it finally reached a Thai Chinese named Bobo living in Hong Kong. Bobo’s sister, who lives in Bangkok, was said to be the dog’s owner. She was ready to travel to Hong Kong to bring it back home.

According to Hong Kong law, dogs and cats should not be brought into Hong Kong unless a special permit had been obtained in advance. Stray animals were normally kept for four days after being found or caught by the AFCD. After that, they are euthanized or found new homes through an animal welfare organization, according to the AFCD’s website.

Bobo’s sister asked for help, but it was too late as Hong Kong authorities had euthanized the dog because there was no vaccination certificate. The move drew criticism, including from local lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu. Kwong had contacted the AFCD on Wednesday morning after a request from Bobo and expressed his concern to ensure the dog had been safe.

Kwong launched an online petition, urging the AFCD to apologize for the action it had taken and to give an account of the issues to the public.

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