Need for transparency in councils’ handling of strays

THE Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) came under heavy fire recently over the alleged brutal manner in which its workers treated a street dog fondly called Bruno Puchong.

Bruno’s “feeder” Koh Tat Meng and his wife Diong Mei Lee had begged and pleaded for the dog catchers to release the dog but the couple was ignored.

Soon after, Koh was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code for allegedly obstructing MPSJ dogcatcher Mohd Sadruddin Mohd Rosli from carrying out his duty.

Earlier this week, Koh sued MPSJ, its president Noraini Roslan, Mohd Sadruddin and the Selangor government for assault and battery.

However, Koh was prepared to consider withdrawing the RM50,000 lawsuit if MPSJ was willing to sit down and discuss the matter with him and his lawyers.

Now, therein lies the clincher.

The local councils in Selangor lack transparency when it comes to the capture and handling of street dogs.

Councils that have animal pounds do not allow rescuers to visit the premises or take photographs of the conditions there.

The pounds appear to be mysterious enclaves with high walls.

Discussions between council authorities and dog lovers, rescuers and feeders are rare.

Thus, whether MPSJ will agree to a dialogue over what had happened to Bruno and his benefactors is anyone’s guess.

The time has come for local councils to recognise the fact that dog lovers will go to any extent to save the lives of street dogs.

Most of these street dogs are fed diligently and in most cases, also vaccinated and neutered by the feeders.

Many become deeply and emotionally attached to the dogs under their care.

Most of these people are taxpayers whose money goes towards the administrative and operational costs of the local councils.

So, isn’t it only fair if the local councils also listen to them and not only to complainants of the street dogs’ presence?

It is also high time councils allow photography and video recording at the pounds to show the public the plight of dogs that are caught.

Many people are still clueless about what actually happens to the dogs once they are caught and detained at the pound.

A recent exchange on Facebook regarding what had happened to Bruno saw a comment by an individual who said:

“The dogs are not harmed, only captured and put in a shelter. Much safer for the dogs themselves and other people, rather than remaining as stray on the streets. So why is that man (Koh) obstructing MPSJ?”

They say ignorance is bliss. Many who complain about street dogs to the authorities believe they will be cared for, as opposed to being killed, after they are looped, dragged and unceremoniously dumped into trucks by dog catchers.

To dispel this misinformation, the councils must allow the public to see for themselves the fate that awaits these unfortunate animals.

Currently there are certain quarters who are divorced from reality and blinkered from common sense, saying all street dogs must be rehomed.

This contention is not workable.

Firstly, a large number of these dogs are feral and will not allow themselves to be turned into pets.

Secondly, most councils only allow one or two dogs per household and condominium. Moreover, many apartment dwellers are not allowed to keep pets.

Apparently, there is also talk that some gated communities are beginning to disallow pets.

All of the above greatly reduces the number of willing people who can take in dogs as pets.

Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari must impose upon all local councils to be transparent about how much money is spent on dog-catching.

This would be in line with the Pakatan Harapan government’s claim to transparency and accountability.

The people must know if the amount spent on dog-catching far surpasses funds used to battle dengue and leptospirosis, for example.

This is pertinent since there has been more than a 50% increase in dengue cases in Selangor in recent times, with Subang Jaya being one of the worst-hit locations.

The people must know if funds used on street dogs would be better used to ensure taxpayers do not face the threat of dengue.

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