Hundreds of animal lovers converged on Chater Garden in Central on Friday evening to urge the police to stop using tear gas against anti-government protests, saying pets, strays, and even police dogs are being harmed.

“We have a lot of stray dogs and cats in our community… they might be affected without knowing,” a veterinarian who helped organise the rally said.

She added that participants are extremely concerned about the use of police dogs in crowd control situations when tear gas is in use, saying it’s unclear how the toxic chemicals would affect them.

A veterinary nurse, who didn’t want to give her name, noted that while police officers have gas masks, their dogs are unprotected. She said since the animals’ sense of smell is much more acute than that of humans, it stands to reason that they would be more seriously affected when exposed to tear gas.

Another participant, cat-owner Scott Lam, also believes that animals are even more vulnerable to tear gas than humans.

“For the animals, maybe there’s a stray dog, stray cat or maybe those pets living in flats, especially those living on the lower floors, they don’t have a choice. I think this is so unfair that that’s so cruel to animals”, he said.