HK man burns dog for barking

Photo is just for illustration.

HONG KONG - He got so fed-up with his neighbour's barking dog that he set fire to the pet after dousing it with paint thinner.

That earned himself a jail sentence of eight months - the heaviest penalty involving cruelty to animals in Hong Kong in recent memory.

Computer technician Mok Chung-ting, 31, burned the dog because of its barking, but a magistrate said last Thursday that he was appalled by the attack on one of "man's best friends", reported Hong Kong daily The Standard.

Mok's defence lawyer said that he acted out of desperation as the mongrel called Little Wong barked incessantly for more than a year and kept him awake.

But Tuen Mun district acting principal magistrate Li Wai-chi said a heavy penalty was needed in light of Mok's "very cruel and inhumane" action.

It was "the worst and the most cruel case" he had handled in more than 20 years.

The magistrate also cast doubts about Mok's claim that the dog kept him awake.

Mok lives in a 15th-storey flat in Siu Hong Court, 140m from where the mongrel lived for more than six years in the backyard of a village house.

The magistrate remarked that barking is normal for a dog, but that any such barking might not be from a single dog.

Planned attack

He said: "Does it mean all birds should be burned if they sing at 4am? Roosters crowing and cats meowing are also normal. The accused cannot blame nature."

The magistrate added that it was also a planned attack that saw the mongrel set on fire and badly injured. The dog suffered pain for nearly five hours before it had to be put down.

"All animals have a right to live with people, and dogs are man's best friends," Mr Li said.

He added that a deterrent sentence was needed as cases of abuse of animals appear to be on the increase.

But the sentence was reduced from 15 months in prison to eight months after taking into account Mok's guilty plea to one count of cruelty to an animal and a show of regret. Mok did not have a criminal record.

The dog, owned by Mr Chan Hon-wing, 40, and his family, was set on fire on Sept 1 last year.

Mr Chan said that it was still difficult to think about the situation, reported the South China Morning Post.

He said: "If you had seen it (the injured dog), you too would be frightened."

Mr Chan's father welcomed the sentence, saying justice was served.

He also said the family had not heard complaints about the dog and added that he was sad Little Wong had been set on fire.

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