Interview with Sally Andersen, the founder of Hong Kong Dog Rescue, and Mickco, a fashion illustrator and supporter for animal adoption

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“For me, one of the big ironies is that if you are buying clothes for example, you pay a lot of money for a piece of clothing, a handbag, shoes, whatever, that’s unique. But with dogs, the mixed breeds are unique ones – you’ve got a bit of this, a bit of that, a bit of curly hair, long hair, short hair, all types of things. Why is that not special?” Sally Andersen, the founder of Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR), pointed out.

An analogy everyone can understand. But is it enough to make people recognise the faulty logic at play and reflect why we think the way we do about mixed breeds? Is it because only certain pure breeds are portrayed as the cutest and most loving by mass media, then snowball effect sets in and breed has become the most crucial and fundamental factor when considering to get a dog despite the fact that personality and lifestyle matter?

We like to dig deep – so we’ve talked to Sally Andersen about her observations on the lives of dogs in Hong Kong, her frustrations, hopes for the future, and Mickco, a renowned fashion illustrator, about his new book to raise fund for HKDR.

No doubt more people like dogs and the idea of having dogs in their lives than 10 years ago. If you walk past a pet shop, it’s so easy to just buy and bring a dog home instantly. Sally is concerned, “If you would want to buy a car, you would have to go have a lesson first, you have to learn how to drive a car, learn the rules of the road and pass tests before you could go out on the street. You can know absolutely nothing about dogs, but you can just buy one and take it home, the dog is then at your mercy.”

When asked about her frustrations and misconception she wished people could see through, Sally shared with us honestly, “The frustration is that there are so many dogs without homes. Admittedly, a lot of them are mixed breeds but it doesn’t mean that they are any worse, feel any less, or any less loyal, any less loving than the breeds you buy in pet shops. Try to persuade people to move away from the look or label of the dog, which is the breed name – the same as the designer label, that’s very frustrating.”

Sitting next to Sally in our interview was Mickco, his successful career has always been about design and illustration. The brands he has worked with include Hermes, Lanvin, Chow Sang Sang, Kiehl’s and more. Minnie, a small sized cute looking dog he adopted a few years ago at HKDR has inspired him to put his skills into good use for a great cause. The outcome is a meaningful illustration story book.

Mickco revealed the story and motivation behind his creation “Recently, I’ve created a book for HKDR’s fundraising. The name of the book is called “The Story of Nei Nei”. The character, Nei Nei, is based on my dog Minnie. I’ve created 4 characters for the four children of my friends in the story of Le Petit Aventurier. I hope these characters stay with them as they grow up. I’ve always been a big fan of Sanrio characters since little. I hope the kids have their own personalised characters”, he explained.

If you want to get a copy of this beautifully illustrated story book, go to HKDR Ap Lei Chau Centre (address: Shop A, G/F, 5 Wai Fung Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong) or NANOS, a premium kidswear brand at Shop 215, 2/F, Lee Garden Two, Causeway Bay.

What’s next? We asked Sally what she wanted to see in the next five years. “I want to see Hong Kong catching up with other countries. For example, in California, you can only buy rescue dogs in pet shops. The shops are not allowed to sell breed puppies anymore. There is a big clamp down on puppy mills. In UK now, no puppies and kittens are in pet shops. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for the Hong Kong government to just do the same!”

Topics of animal welfare has not gained sufficient yet deserving attention in LegCo. But there’s still hopes when we, dog lovers, unite and voice out loud enough that elected legislators cannot turn a blind eye to our demands. We have our voice and voting right to speak for the voiceless!

HKDR Sally AndersenSally playing with a pup waiting for a home at HKDR Api Lei Chau centre.

Mickco created an illustration storybook to raise fund for Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR).

HKDR MickcoCharacters in the storybook are called Le Petit Aventurier.

HKDR MickcoMinnie, adopted from HKDR by Mickco.

Many dogs and puppies are waiting for a home. Adopt, don’t shop! HKDR centre at Ap Lei Chau opens from 10am to 6pm every day.

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