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Tuesday February 1, 2011

SSPCA wants authority to act against animal abuse

THE Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) is helpless in keeping tab on animal abuse cases in the state because it does not have the authority to do so in the first place.

SSPCA chairman Rebecca D’Cruz said empowering the society to act on these cases would require a change in the Veterinary and Public Health Ordinance 1999.

“At this moment, when it comes to acting on abuse cases, there is a grey area in the Ordinance which only involves the local councils and the Veterinary Department.

Enpowerment: D’Cruz hopes the society will be given authority to act on animal abuse cases in the near future.

“And in many cases, the people do not know whether to report these cases to the councils or the departments and some calls just end up getting passed around,” she told reporters at the SSPCA appreciation dinner in Kuching on Sunday.

She revealed that since 1998, the number of abused animals brought to the animal shelter at Kota Sentosa had been increasing.

Nonetheless, she said it was difficult to tell if it was the abuse cases or the level of awareness against animal cruelty that was increasing.

She said SSPCA ran differently compared to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Selangor which had been given the authority by the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur to act on abuse cases.

As such, Rebecca said SSPCA was hoping to replicate the SPCA model soon.

At the moment, SSPCA would go to the extent of checking up on the complaints and also talking to the owners.

However, if the owners of the animal were to get aggressive, SSPCA would report the matter to the council in charge.

The council will then issue a warning and if the animal still showed sign of being abused after a couple of spot checks, it will be taken away.

Unfortunately, Rebecca said this was all that could be done for now with the abusers basically getting away scot-free.

She said if given the authority, SSPCA would want to also focus on educating pet owners on how to care and treat their pets properly.

“The laws are there (in the Ordinance). It says you cannot chain an animal 24 hours, seven days a week and it’s also a violation if you don’t provide your pet food, water and proper shelter. But many still don’t know this so it comes back to educating the public.

“I always tell people that if they are not willing or ready to look after a pet, then don’t keep one,” she said.

The appreciation dinner was held to thank donors and volunteers who had supported SSPCA all this while especially during the recent flooding which inundated the shelter and destroyed most of the food stocks.

Rebecca said that SSPCA had managed to get back 50% of its food stock through generous donations.

In addition, she said the Housing and Urban Development Ministry had also reassured the society that it was currently in the midst of looking for a piece of land to relocate the current shelter.

The ministry also gave a grant of RM20,000 to the society.

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