MIRI: A German expatriate in Miri and his family are calling for tougher enforcement against animal cruelty in Sarawak.
Gunter Liebertz, who made Miri his home 18 years ago, said it was still a shock for him every time he saw animals such as dogs and cats being so badly treated by some, including at pet shops selling these animals.
He appealed to the state government to take steps to curb such cruelty by enforcing tougher laws against animal-abuse culprits.
"It was a shock for me when I first arrived in Miri and saw homes and pet shops cramping pets into tiny cages and tying them on short chains under the hot sun.
"When I tried to stop such cruelty, the abusers told me to mind my own business.
"I often cry and feel sad seeing this cruelty in Miri. In Germany, pets are treated like part of the family.
"We love them like our family members. We don't chain them up or put them in small cages.
"Such animal cruelty must stop if Sarawak wants to be seen as a developed state," Liebertz said.
The Miri City Council on Wednesday (May 22) launched a major campaign with the Malaysian Animal Welfare Association (MAWA) and a group of concerned citizens from the Miri Humane Society to stop cruel treatment of animals.
Miri mayor Adam Yii said Miri was striving to be a healthy resort city, and this issue of animal welfare needed to be addressed in a holistic manner.
"Animal welfare is a key yardstick and indicator of a developed and healthy society.
"There have been increasing complaints about cruelty towards animals in homes and even among those selling animals for commercial purposes in Miri.
"We must tackle this," he said at the launch of the campaign.
The volunteers involved in this project include university students, doctors, educators, expatriates and members of the media.
They will put up posters in public places and hold educational talks in schools and in public to show people that pets and animals are part of society and the family.
Dr Uma Devi, who is a former director of the Miri Hospital, will be giving health talks about the mental benefit of pets.
She has been stressing the need to be humane towards animals and how families who treat pets kindly are also happy and healthy in their upbringing.