The Cage Dogs of Hong Kong, by Brian Cassey

Jan 13, 2012 7 comments

Hong Kong – home to some 7 million people - is acknowledged as one of the world’s richest cities, with exorbitant luxury property and more Louis Vuitton shops than Paris. But tens of thousands of people in one of the most densely-populated urban districts in the world live in 6ft by 2ft wire cages – sometimes up to thirty in a small room. The cage dwellers are made up of the so-called “working poor,” who cannot afford Hong Kong’s sky-high rents, the elderly who can no longer work and the mentally ill who slip through the welfare cracks. Hong Kong Chinese people actually refer to these unfortunates as “Cage Dogs”.

Unscrupulous landlords charge them around US$200 a month for each cage, which are packed 20 to a room, and up to three levels high. The lower cages are more expensive because you can almost stand inside them, but the conditions are no less squalid. Occupants must share toilets and washing facilities, which are rudimentary. Many of the apartments have no kitchens, forcing their impoverished residents to spend there meagre incomes on takeaway food. The alternative is life on the street.

SoCo – Society for Community Organization – and an individual, Hong Kong social welfare charities social worker Sze Lai Shan, have spent the past 14 years fighting to re-house the cage dwellers. Despite Lai Shan and SoCo’s determined advocacy, the future of the “Cage Dogs” remains bleak, as cheaper labor floods into the former British territory from Mainland China. Hong Kong’s legislature

These pictures were captured by British photographer Brian Cassey.


  1. OMG !!! It's so sad. This people live in worse place than some animals

  2. Just remember, certain people in our government think we should be more like China. Last time I checked the poor here live like kings compared to these poor people.

    1. Hong Kong is the very society the teabaggers want in terms of economic and social policies: very low taxes, little government intervention in the economy, few social programs, surplus year after year. Now, look at these photos.
      What do mean more like China? Do you mean as pro-business as China? China collects few taxes as a ratio to its GDP than many advanced nations in the world. China also has less regulations. That's what some republicans want.

  3. I've never heard anyone call those poor people "cage dog". Any proof?

  4. so-called “working poor,”

  5. We never call these unfortunate people "dogs". The useless government officials are! Where did you get that term?! It's a irresponsible slander to kind hearted, peaceful HK people!

  6. What's better? A cage w a bed and warmth or the street as it is in the U.S.? To me, they ate THE SAME. I live in the U.S. but grew up in Europe and I had never seen human neglect until I came here. Even so-called rich people have overbites as insurance companies don't pay for it and it doesn't stand out so no one thinks of fixing it. When I first moved here, it seemed to me that 4/5 people had one! (And I lived in a "rich" neighborhood...). Now, like others here, I don't notice it anymore! I got used to it too! Habit makes us consider others less lucky. These people would feel bad for our very large homeless population!


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