PUTRAJAYA: A new law that is ready for tabling in Parliament is about to get nasty with animal abusers.
The Animal Welfare Bill proposes that first time offenders be fined between RM20,000 and RM100,000 or sit behind bars for up to three years.
Commit the crime again, and they will not only be fined up to double the amount imposed for their previous offence, but also face at least three months in jail.
The final draft of the Bill which included several amendments suggested by participants in a series of public engagements was also aimed at more extensive and intensive enforcement of the law, said Veterinary Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin.
“Animals cannot talk, they cannot take to the streets and hold a demonstration. We need to have something punitive to act as a deterrent (against animal abuse).
“The severity of the penalties was proposed by the public, not just by us,” he said.
Now, the penalty for animal abuse is a fine of up to RM50,000, not more than a year’s jail, or both, following last year’s amendments to the Animal Act 1953.
Prior to the amendments, the penalty was a paltry RM200 fine, six months’ jail or both.
How the new regulations are to be enforced is a major aspect of the final draft, with the proposed creation of Malaysia’s own Animal Cops – a team of officers who will keep a close watch on the treatment of animals.
Unlike the department’s existing enforcement officers – who are only mobilised for specific operations – the animal welfare officers would be on the ground at all times to make sure nobody took advantage of hapless animals, Dr Abdul Aziz said.
“Just like welfare officers, they will inspect and monitor their areas to make sure the law is upheld. There will be no need to wait for cases to be reported before we send people over.
“If, for example, they come across a pet that has not been fed for days, they will have the power to investigate the case and take the owner to court ... so you had better make sure your pet is taken care of before flying off for your holiday,” he added.
Dr Abdul Aziz hoped the Bill could be debated and passed by Parliament this year for it to be gazetted and enforced in 2014.