THERE are no clear guidelines on the use of guide dogs in public places.
Veterinary Services director-general Datuk Dr Mohamad Azmie Zakaria however, welcomes the sharing of opinions on the matter.
“When we start sharing views, only then can we work towards implementing some guidelines.
“It may not happen overnight but discussions are always encouraged as that should lead to better implementation of policies on different issues,” he said.
“Our present guidelines on animals, in general, are still unclear.
“However we must explore and look at the issue of guide dogs seriously. Only then will we be able to come up with a solution,” he said.
“As a veterinarian, I know the purpose of a working dog is to assist the blind and this is a good thing.
“This will empower the disabled to be more independent in going about their daily tasks. They can be more productive.
“I am no religious expert, but based on my understanding of Islam, a guide dog should not be a problem.
“However, there may be differing views from different religious scholars,” he added.
Dr Mohamad Azmie said modern civilised societies were judged on how they treat animals and various groups such as the disabled.
All relevant feedback must be gathered if the issue was to be addressed to benefit the disabled community, he said.
“This includes getting views from the disabled community, religious scholars and other representatives from relevant segments of society.
“They must also take into consideration cultural aspects,” he said.
The Veterinary Services Department is looking at amending the Animal Welfare Act 2012.
“When these amendments become law, it will help resolve many inter-related issues,” he added.
Dr Mohamad Azmie said public acceptance of rules was crucial for a more favourable outcome.
“There may be rules requiring dog owners to muzzle their pet or use a special vest to give a clear indication that they are guide dogs,’’ he said.