PETALING JAYA: The newly-formed Animal Welfare Board will meet soon to draft conditions for pet industry operators to license their businesses.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said he would direct the board to hold its inaugural meeting. It was set up after the Animal Welfare Act 2015 came into effect in July.
“One area to be taken up by the board is the sort of regulatory measures that must be met by operators of pet cafes and other animal-related facilities,” he said.
He acknowledged that there were issues to be ironed out such as overlapping jurisdiction between local councils and the board.
“Local councils have their own regulations on business licences.
“We need to decide which comes first – the licence from the board or from the local council,” he said.
Ahmad Shabery said the nine-member board, comprising officials from government departments and animal rights group representatives, is expected to finalise details of the licence application process.
The Animal Welfare Act came into force on July 18 with Ahmad Shabery announcing the setting up of the board.
More than 400 enforcement officers have also been appointed, comprising veterinary officers and related government officers. They will be issued authority cards to act as animal welfare officers.
Under Section 15 of the Act, aside from the slaughtering of animals for religious and customary purposes, no persons shall carry out activities involving animals unless they hold a valid licence granted by the board which must be displayed on the premises.
Those operating without a licence may be liable to a fine of up to RM75,000, two years’ jail, or both.
Failure to display the licence in a prominent place on the premises is also an offence punishable with a fine of not less than RM10,000 and not more than RM50,000, a year’s jail, or both.
Business operators will also need to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of animals in their care are met.
This includes a suitable environment and diet, and the freedom for the animal to exhibit its normal behaviour patterns.
The pets must also be protected from pain, injury and disease.
Currently, pet hotels and pet cafes can be found in the Klang Valley, Penang, Melaka, Johor and Sabah with numbers expected to increase.
A pet hotel allows owners to temporarily house their animals in a safe and hygienic caged or penned environment when they go away on holiday or work.
Pet cafes – which originated in Taiwan, boomed in Japan and then spread around the world – offer patrons a chance to mingle with well-groomed animals such as dogs and cats. Some outlets allow patrons to bring along their own pets.