JOHOR BARU: Johor will beef up its Customs checks at the Causeway and Second Link to prevent stray cats from being smuggled into the state from Singapore.
The move followed a reported plan by animal lovers in the republic to rescue some 2,000 cats after Singapore’s agri-food and veterinary authority intensified the culling of strays, with up to 45 cats being put down daily since May 25.
The exercise, triggered by the spread of SARS in the republic, involved stray cats found near foodcourts.
The move had angered animal lovers on the island, who said they would mount a campaign to save the cats by rounding them up and sending them to Johor.
The Veterinary Services Department here has since said that it would be “more vigilant” about allowing these cats to enter Malaysia, to safeguard public interest.
State Customs director Sarmin Hussin said his department would be stringent in ensuring that no stray cats entered the country without prior approval from veterinary services.
It was his department’s procedure to check with veterinary services before allowing any animal to enter the country, he said in an interview here.
“People who bring in any animal must adhere to strict regulations from that department and we (Customs) will only allow these animals to enter the country if the veterinary services gives the go-ahead,” he said.
Veterinary Services Department health unit chief Dr Zul Edham Wagiman said it would have to be more careful in issuing permits for the importation of stray cats, as these animals do not have any health records and might pose a risk to the public.
He, however, denied reports that the department would not allow stray cats from Singapore to enter the country.
“Being stray cats, they will not have complete medical records. We must be more vigilant in allowing these cats to enter the country as we also have to protect the interest of the public and local animals.
“Since we know they are culling cats in Singapore, it would be natural to be extra vigilant.”
Dr Zul Edham said those who want to bring pets or animals into Malaysia would have to ensure that the animals have a health certificate and a valid and authorised vaccination record, adding that such a procedure was practised internationally.
He said another concern was that the cats might not be really free of infections before they enter they country as many viruses have an incubation period.
Responding to the plan by Singapore cat lovers to send them to the Noah’s Arc Lodge, an animal shelter in Ulu Choh near here, Dr Zul Edham said: “We have not received any application for this. If, and when we do, the department will review it thoroughly before approving or rejecting it.”
He said whichever facility the stray cats might be transferred to in Malaysia, it must meet the department’s requirements.
Owner and founder of Noah’s Ark Lodge Raymond Wee said he would not allow any stray cat from Singapore to be transferred to his shelter without the necessary health certificate and vaccination record.
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