Balancing bark and bite when it comes to stray dogs


Strays left at the papan landfill waiting for food from volunteers. — Photos: RONNiE CHIN/The Star and courtesy of NGOs and feeder

MOVES by the Ipoh City Council (MBI) to address public complaints about stray dogs have riled up canine welfare groups.

Among the complaints is the hike in fee to reclaim strays from the city council’s pound.

These include dogs with red collars, under the trap-neuter-release-manage (TNRM) programme and those rounded up during enforcement exercises.

The TNRM programme was initiated by the Ipoh Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) in 2018.

Persatuan Kebajikan Pecinta Anjing Jalanan Ipoh president P. Jassica Morris pointed out that no fees were previously imposed to get dogs out of the pound.

However, she said in December last year, a fee of RM30 was imposed but dogs with red collars were still released without charge.

This was increased to RM50 in January for dogs with or without the red collars before being raised drastically again in February.

Strays roaming freely at the entrance of the Papan landfill.Strays roaming freely at the entrance of the Papan landfill.

“To my shock, when I went to claim one of the strays with the red collar, I was asked to pay RM250 and I was almost begging them to reduce the fee, but they (MBI) refused to do so.

“Imagine in a week, if they (council) catch 10 dogs and when NGOs want to get them back, how much they need to pay,” said the activists, who is popularly known among stray dog feeders as Jesse Morris.

Morris said the dogs she claimed from the pound were not released back in any public areas, but were instead sent to farms, factories or adopted by the feeders themselves.

She also neutered those without red collars, which she got from the pound.

Chong Choon Kit, president of Mutts and Mittens, a shelter for rescued stray animals, said the RM250 fee was too high, especially for volunteers who were paying the fine out of kindness.

He urged authorities to make an effort to communicate with the animal welfare groups to adopt a win-win approach.

Chong says the RM250 fee is too high, especially for volunteers who are paying the fine out of kindness.Chong says the RM250 fee is too high, especially for volunteers who are paying the fine out of kindness.

“The root cause of stray animals is due to abandonment, an issue that has not been addressed or dealt with properly, and has led to many stray cats and dogs.

“As an animal welfare advocate, we have always tried our best to solve this problem, but we don’t have the authority to set rules.

“So we can only start with the simplest task, like feeding and neutering stray animals, which obviously cannot solve the whole societal issue,” he added.

Noah’s Ark Ipoh founder Dr Ranjit Kaur Mendhir also appealed to MBI not to charge NGOs who go to the pound to claim the strays.

A reminder to the public not to abandon animals in the market at Canning Garden, Ipoh.A reminder to the public not to abandon animals in the market at Canning Garden, Ipoh.

The veterinarian said these groups were already paying to have these animals neutered.

“Lastly, I think the council’s enforcement team can be more cooperative, and humane, and not be rough with the animals who are only looking for food,” she said.

Dr Ranjit added that MBI’s practice of catching and dumping the strays at the Papan landfill only undermined the work by non-government organisations.

Firstly, she said, MBI should have a proper fenced up facility and not the pound that they have now, which had just a few cages.

For neutered dogs, Dr Ranjit suggested that MBI provide dog feeders with space for them to shelter between five and six animals in a residential area.

“The space can be at some corner, under high tension cables, near big drains, streams, where the feeders are able to confine their dogs and feed them and this will solve half of the stray population problem,” she said.

Dr Ranjit says dog feeders should be provided a small space to shelter between five and six animals in residential areas.Dr Ranjit says dog feeders should be provided a small space to shelter between five and six animals in residential areas.

Dr Ranjit said MBI must also carry out public awareness programmes, particularly at wet markets, about the necessity to neuter both dogs and cats.

She said closed-circuit camera (CCTV) should also be placed at hotspots, especially near markets to prevent people from dumping their pets.

“Also when people go to the city council office to pay or get their pet licence, educational pamphlets must be handed out to remind the public to neuter their pets,” she said.

ISPCA president Ricky Soong said he was among representatives from six NGOs who met MBI officials to address related issues last month.

Soong said they were told that stricter enforcement was implemented following increasing public complaints about strays.

As a result MBI started rounding up the animals, including dogs with red collars, he added.

But he agreed that TNRM was an effective long-term strategy to reduce the number of strays.

“Since 2018 over 9,500 dogs have been neutered in Ipoh,” he said, adding that the move was carried out by ISPCA, NGOs, feeders and dog lovers

Soong said the positive effects could be seen in the Seri Botani area, where there were only adult dogs and no puppies.

He said all the dogs there had been neutered in stages over the past seven years.

Soong added that all dogs should be neutered and not only when the enforcement officers rounded up the dogs.

On the flip side, he called on MBI to get in touch with the respective volunteers or NGOs to give them time to find a shelter for the dogs, before any action was taken.

Unclaimed strays nabbed by the Ipoh City Council are left at the Papan landfill.Unclaimed strays nabbed by the Ipoh City Council are left at the Papan landfill.

Authorities speak

Mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin said the maximum fine was set at RM250 but he had the authority to give discounts.

He said NGOs or feeders could ask him for the discounts when they want to release dogs from the pound.

“I will see what I can do to help,” he said at the full board meeting yesterday.

Rumaizi said he would also take note on NGOs suggesting that pockets of land at residential areas be used to keep strays.

Housing and local government committee chairman Sandrea Ng Shy Ching said no fees were previously imposed on NGOs to reclaim dogs from the pound, under the strict condition these animals were not returned to the street.

She said these dogs had to be put up for adoption or placed in shelters but some had not complied.

“Sometimes some NGOs promise they would not put the dogs back on the streets and the city council then allowed them to get back the dogs with the minimum fees or without any charge, but the issue did not stop there.

“That is the reality and NGOs are well aware that the dogs being neutered or not (with or without red collars) isn’t the consideration for enforcement operation,” she said.

Ng reiterated that whether the dogs were healthy, neutered or sick, as long as it caused a nuisance and with public complaints, the authorities needed to act.

She also said there was no set limit in the by-law on an amount to reclaim a dog from the pound.

She said MBI was committed to work with the NGOs but they needed to make sure the animals they take from the pound have shelter or are adopted.

Ng says whether it is a healthy, neutered or sick dog, as long as it causes a nuisance and there are public complaints, the authorities have to act.Ng says whether it is a healthy, neutered or sick dog, as long as it causes a nuisance and there are public complaints, the authorities have to act.

“We understand the challenges faced by the NGOs, but if they cannot promise the dogs would not be released back to the street, that puts the council in a difficult situation,” she said.

Ng noted that the state had encouraged committed NGOs to identify suitable state lands to be gazetted as shelters.

“These respective NGOs will be appointed as the caretaker and with a nominal fee. They would not have to rent or buy the land,” she said.

Ng also said NGOs could play a bigger role in the awareness campaigns on the importance of neutering pets and not abandoning them, as they understood the issue better.

“Last year using my allocation, I started a similar awareness campaign in primary schools, so I feel everyone can try to do more,” she added.

Ng said local authorities also wanted to impose stricter conditions during application and renewal of dog licences.

Dogs with red collars, under the trap-neuter-release-manage (TNRM) programme, are also rounded up during enforcement exercises.Dogs with red collars, under the trap-neuter-release-manage (TNRM) programme, are also rounded up during enforcement exercises.

This includes having a microchip for identification, if in any case the pet is abandoned later, they would be able to trace the owner.

Ng also said that catching strays was rarely straightforward.

“When you try to catch a dog, for sure the process is not going to be easy, and certainly there is no intended roughness or intention to harm the dogs.

“As announced earlier, enforcement teams would be equipped with bodycam to reduce controversy,” she said.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!
   

Next In Metro News

Screening their way to better health
Food truck dreams dashed, leaving victims RM300,000 poorer
City council mulling crocodile adoption by companies to reduce food bill
Scaling new depths with crocodile census
Enjoy Teochew music, opera from China troupe
Fined for blocking tactile tiles in KL
Back lane makeover a blooming success
On the right track to Olympic gold
Popiah to suit every palate in Klang
Food waste turned into compost to benefit community gardens in PJ

Others Also Read