Adopting a Pet in Hong Kong

Ready to add a new, four-legged friend to your family? Here's what you really need to know before adopting a pet in Hong Kong.

8 Apr 2016 — By Brandie S. / Family / HK Living
adopting a pet in Hong Kong

There is nothing like coming home to an outpouring of unconditional love and affection from a pet. Even when you’ve had a bad day and it’s raining outside and you forgot to buy milk for your tea… a pet is always there to greet you with love when you get home. Whether it’s through the medium of a sloppy kiss from your dog or a sweet purr from your cat, pets can’t help but add joy to our lives. They’re just magical little happiness ambassadors.

If you’re thinking of adding a happiness ambassador to your family, why not ADOPT one through one of the amazing rescue organisations in Hong Kong? Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help…

WHY adopt a pet?

As Hong Kong PAWS Foundation (PAWS) states on its website, “Adopt an Animal, Save a Life”. According to a representative from Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR), approximately 7,000 dogs are put to sleep every year in Hong Kong. And that’s just the dogs. Unfortunately, there are thousands of homeless, abandoned, lonely animals living in Hong Kong. These cats, dogs, hamsters and other animals are typically picked up by the Agricultural and Fisheries Department before they are euthanised. That’s where the rescue organisations step in. They rescue these beautiful creatures and give them a second chance at life. They make a commitment to care for the animals and to attempt to find them a permanent, loving home. Could that be you?

If you are interested in adopting a pet, here’s what you need to know:

WHAT to consider before you adopt:

Before adopting a pet, you will be asked to fill out an adoption questionnaire. These questionnaires pinpoint the MANY things you should consider before adopting a pet. Below you will find a few sample questions—with a side order of joy provided by some of my animal friends. All of the cats and dogs pictured below have been lovingly adopted in Hong Kong!


PEPPER (adopted from HKDR) wants to know:

Are you ready to take on the responsibility of adopting an animal? Make sure you are ready before adding an animal to your family. Pets are lovely and sweet and adorable, but they also take commitment and sacrifice on the part of their owners. It is a shame to think that some of these animals are actually RETURNED to shelters or ABANDONED because their adoptive families weren’t adequately prepared for pet ownership.


ZATO, the blind cat who sees all (adopted from Kirsten’s Zoo Charity), asks:

Are you comfortable with the costs associated with adding a pet to your family? Apart from the ‘rehoming fee’ (cost of adopting your pet), make sure you research the cost of desexing and vaccinating your new pet. You will also want to research everyday costs associated with cat/dog ownership—food, training, grooming, flea and tick prevention, toys, beds, etc. Also be prepared for the cost of emergency vet services if your little guy or girl falls ill or suffers an injury.


MEIKE (adopted from HKDR) enquires:

Do you need permission from your landlord? If permission is needed to have a pet in your home, MAKE SURE you secure permission before beginning the adoption process.


WILBUR (adopted from HKDR) wants to know:

How often are you home? Cats and dogs need exercise, bathroom breaks, play time, baths etc. If your job or lifestyle has you away for long hours, consider the happiness of your new pet when they are alone. Where will you keep your new pet when no one is home? Who will take your pet outside? How much exercise can you really offer your new best friend? No one likes to be cooped up in the house all day alone. Make sure you can provide a happy lifestyle for your dog or cat.


MONTY (adopted from PAWS) asks:

Will a pet fit into your family? Do you have children? Do any of them have pet allergies? Do you have other animals in your home? If you have a helper, are they comfortable around animals? Think about how an animal will fit into your family in the long term. Consider bringing your child and/or other pet along with you to meet your potential new cat or dog. Sit down and discuss the addition of a pet as a family to make sure everyone is on board with the decision.

Izzy & Ellie

IZZY (adopted from PAWS) and ELLIE (found after being abandoned) want you to think about:

What sort of animal is right for you? Are you looking for a cat or a dog? Does your lifestyle suit a larger animal or a smaller one? Are you looking for an animal that is housetrained like a cat or an animal you can take hiking with you like a dog? Keep in mind that size doesn’t necessarily predict activity level. Some small dogs like poodles are quite lively and need a lot of exercise, while some bigger dogs like bulldogs are more sedentary. Also, keep in mind that puppies and kittens will GROW.


TRIXIE, the 3-legged Wonder-Dog (adopted from HKDR and now living abroad), asks:

Are you planning to relocate? Make sure you are willing to adopt your new happiness ambassador FOR LIFE. Too many pets wind up back in shelters when their families decide to move out of Hong Kong… likely at an age which makes them less appealing to potential adoptive families. If you plan to relocate in the future, make sure you are prepared to take your new buddy with you.


SOLLY (adopted from HKDR) hopes that you will remember:

As HKDR states on their website, “If you can’t give a dog the time and attention that it needs, or you can’t commit to keeping a dog for the rest of its life, PLEASE DO NOT ADOPT A DOG”. This goes for all pets. Adopting a cat or dog is a commitment that should be made after careful consideration.

WHO to contact if you’re ready to adopt:

If you’ve decided that adopting a pet is the right choice for you, start by contacting one of the many rescue organisations in Hong Kong through their respective websites. Fill out an adoption questionnaire online or ask for a representative to contact you with more information about adopting a specific animal you’ve seen on their site:

Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR)

*HKDR’s site is currently under construction. In the meantime, please visit their Facebook page.

Hong Kong PAWS (PAWS)

Lifelong Animal Protection Charity (LAP)

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)

Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS) (currently winding down)

Kirsten’s Zoo Charity

WHERE to adopt:

The above listed rescue organisations in Hong Kong also host homing days and/or have rescue facilities where you can meet your future pet face to face…

HKDR has two homing centres. They are located at 6 Shek Lin Road in Tai Po and 21 Ap Lei Chau Main Street in Ap Lei Chau. They also host a “Puppy Adoption Day” each Sunday at Whiskers ‘n’ Paws (2 Lee Wing Street) in Ap Lei Chau from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.

PAWS hosts regular adoption days in Discovery Bay Plaza on Saturdays from 2:30 – 6:30 pm (in front of the post office).

LAP has an adoption centre located at Shop 1B, G/F, 187 Tsuen King Circuit in Tsuen Wan. LAP also hosts “Puppy Sunday” every Sunday from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at Locofama (12 Fuk Sau Lane in Sai Wan).

The SPCA has several homing centres throughout Hong Kong. For a list of homing and adoption centres, click here.

PALS is currently winding down their operations. For information on upcoming adoption days and other events, visit their website.

Kirsten’s Zoo Charity hosts regular adoption days. For a list of upcoming adoption events, click here.

HOW else can I help?

Not ready to adopt a pet, but want to help? Consider making a donation to one of the organisations listed above to help them continue saving animals. These organisations are usually run by volunteers who receive no compensation for their services. This means that 100% of your donation will go towards helping the animals. As LAP’s website states, “apart from money, we are always in need of volunteers for fostering, advertising, trapping, etc”. Volunteering your time is just as valuable!

WHEN should I adopt?

Why not now? If you’ve carefully considered the responsibilities associated with adopting a pet and feel that you are prepared for pet ownership, get the adoption process started! With so many wonderful animals up for adoption, there’s no use in waiting. Your dog or cat could be waiting for you RIGHT NOW! Before you know it, you could be spending your evenings watching Lady & The Tramp with your new furry friend. Wait… am I the only one who does that? Well, it is my dog’s favourite movie!

Brandie is an American living in Hong Kong with a British husband, a Chinese pug and a Parisian soul. She believes in making bold decisions and living a life full of happiness and laughter. A few years ago, she quit her job as an attorney to explore the world and she blogs about it here:

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