Don’t wait to take the humane path

SLIGHTLY over RM1mil from the 2019 state Budget has been allocated by Selangor government for animal welfare.

In a press conference after tabling the budget late last year, Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari said the state hoped to embark on a more humane method of stray management such as neutering.

Simply interpreted, Selangor is ready to explore neutering strays to curb population growth instead of the current method of catching and culling.

Unfortunately, the modus operandi of the state’s city councils, district councils and municipal councils do not reflect the government’s proposed intent.

Strays, especially dogs, are brutally snared with loops then dragged yelping and whimpering before being thrown into waiting lorries.

Some councils euthanise on the spot trapped dogs, although the permissible practice is to hold them for a week because some of these dogs could be lost pets.

When such cruelty is inflicted in public, it is akin to an agreement that strays, especially dogs, can be subjugated to acts of cruelty.

This could be the indirect reason as to why there is an increase in the number of cases of animal cruelty involving street animals.

The act of catching the street dogs is either carried out by council dog-catching teams or pest control company workers engaged by local councils.

Several councils have been using the services of pest control companies. It is not known whether they are also engaged to eradicate rats and Aedes mosquitoes, given that there is a lot of dengue and leptospirosis cases in Selangor.

The engagement of these pest control companies have also commercialised dog-catching activities, resulting in their workers going into overdrive to increase their catch as the companies are paid according to the number of dogs caught.

No one knows exactly how much is paid, but word has it within the stray animal rescue fraternity that it can be anywhere between RM35 and RM100 for each dog.

As the Selangor government is a proponent of transparency and accountability, it must disclose how much exactly the local councils are paying these companies annually.

Other municipalities must also reveal how much is spent on dog-catching activities every year.

The onus is on Amirudin to direct the executive councillor in charge of local councils, Ng Sze Han, to seek answers from the respective heads of the state’s two city councils, four district councils and six municipal councils.

The state’s taxpayers must know how much of their money is being spent on catching and killing strays, more so because the method is clearly lacking efficacy.

It is also time for the state government to explore the catching-neutering-returning-managing method, known as TNRM, which has proven to be effective in several countries in the world and would be suitable in Selangor.

This is because of the large number of independent rescuers and rescue groups in the state who have been successfully practising TNRM for almost two decades with funds out of their own pockets as well as public donations.

The authorities should engage these rescue groups and independent rescuers, instead of exclusively reaching out to just one organisation, and work with them in countering the growth in the number of strays.

Other agencies such as the state chapter of the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) should also work harder to nab animal abusers under the Animal Welfare Act 2015 so that the culprits will be duly dealt with.

The top brass of DVS must also ensure the Act is in no way misused by certain parties to selectively persecute animal rescuers and rescue groups because of personal agendas and vendettas.

In addition, DVS must acknowledge the fact that seriously injured animals can be treated and rehabilitated.

I know this because I became an accidental rescuer in 2008 after I wrote about a dog that was brutalised by local council dog catchers.

Instead of just writing about it, I arranged to “bail” the dog out and got it admitted at a veterinary clinic to treat its injuries.

The dog was also neutered, vaccinated and successfully rehomed.

It is coming to 11 years now and I have since set up a non-governmental organisation called Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB), which has rescued hundreds of dogs over the years.

We have with us more than 40 disabled dogs that are leading healthy and happy lives.

One such dog is Happy that we rescued about six years ago when it had serious facial wounds.

Today, Happy is one of our top dogs with quite a number of people sponsoring her monthly keep.


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