Amid fears of transmission, owners surrender hamsters

Pet owners began handing over their hamsters to the authorities on Wednesday, heeding calls by the government after a Covid-19 outbreak at a pet shop.

The authorities have urged the public to submit hamsters bought since December 22 for humane disposal, following the infection of a sales staff of the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay, one of its customers and 11 hamsters.

A mother, surnamed Yeung, was wearing gloves as she brought her hamster to the government’s New Territories South Animal Management Centre in Sha Tin.

“I didn’t dare touch it. My son had to put on gloves to put it into [the container],” she said.

Yeung said she had bought the hamster for her children to learn about taking care of animals, but now she’s afraid of owning hamsters again.

A man surnamed Chan said he supports the government’s decision on hamsters.

“There’re children in my home, we better not risk it,” he said.

Chan said he had explained to his kids, 6 and 11, about the decision to let go of their two new pets, which were bought separately in late December and earlier this month.

“They know we’re doing it for the sake of their health,” he added.

Another pet owner, surnamed Mak, said he had to give up his hamster named “fat boy” after considering the well-being of his cat.

“Helpless… [I’m] mainly worried that it could infect other animals,” he said.

The pet owners said they were required to sign a consent form to surrender their hamsters.

A hamster concern group told RTHK it had received more than 120 inquiries from pet owners so far, with about half of them saying they were planning to surrender their hamsters.

The group questioned why the government decided to cull all pet shop hamsters even though the infections happened at only one shop.

And more than 22,000 people had signed an online petition as of noon Wednesday, calling on the government to reverse its decision to cull small pets at Little Boss.