PETALING JAYA: Anyone who beats, kicks, tortures, neglects or abandons any animal can be charged for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Bill.
If convicted, abusers can face a fine between RM20,000 and RM100,000 and a jail sentence of not more than three years.
The Bill will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday and if passed, the new law will be enforceable within the next few months upon its gazette.
"The reality is that there are tens and thousands of unwanted animals in Malaysia,” said Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) chief operating officer Lorna Fisher.
“All of us would love to say ‘stop killing the strays’, but you have to know that there is no magical way to rehome all the animals,” she said.
Fisher said that what we can do is have “effective stray management” done as humanely as possible.
“Anyone, whether it is a government body or individual, who wants to catch or kill strays with cruel methods can now be prosecuted under the Bill,” she said.
Ultimately, Fisher is happy to see the “much bigger body of legislation” that covers all animals.
“We have been living with situations that are considered abusive or morally wrong, but we had no legal end to go in and protect those animals,” she said.
“But under the new Bill it will be legislated as animal cruelty. We would now have the law on our side to better protect our animals.”
Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan said that she is happy to see the increased punishment and scope of animal abuse.
“But the problem is whether they would rightly punish animal abusers,” said Shenaaz.
She brought up the 2011 case of a young girl bludgeoning a kitten to death.
“I can’t see the case being tried differently,” she said.
“There will still be sympathy and they didn’t want to give her a high punishment, although they should.”
Fisher added that it is also important that Malaysians report cases of animal abuse and act as witnesses during trials.
“I’ve seen so many animal abusers get away with their wrongdoings because nobody wants to stand up and act as a witness to the case.
“So if you see something please come forward and stand as a witness so that animal abusers will be prosecuted,” she said.
Fisher also hopes that the new laws would be applied to all without discrimination.
“I hope to see people who tie dogs on short chains or run puppy mills, for example, prosecuted,” she said.
Enforcement agencies and prosecutors have to be prepared, said Shenaaz.
“There must be proper documentation and evidence, and the charge sheet and investigation papers has to be in order,” she said.
Awareness programs should be carried out so that Malaysians are aware of what constitutes as cruelty.
“There has been a problem of people claiming ignorance for the longest time. That is why we need the education and awareness so that people can no longer feign ignorance,” she said.
Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) deputy director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin said that awareness programs are “in the pipeline”.“We are hoping to work with the education ministry to introduce this into the school system, because this will be useful in the long run,” he said.
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