‘Please do not abandon your pets’

Sad plight: A cat roaming near barbed wire placed at an area under enhanced MCO in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Animal welfare associations are pleading to Malaysians not to abandon their pets even though they are experiencing hardship due to Covid-19.

Malaysian Animal Association president Arie Dwi Andika said that since the movement control order (MCO) started, there had been an increase in dumping of animals.

“We found many dogs and cats with collars on roaming the streets. They have become strays, ” he said, adding that with food premises closed during the MCO, it had led to food scarcity for these animals.

“Strays too are facing starvation, ” he said, adding that volunteer feeders had been restricted in their ability to go out to feed the animals.

He added that only a few food donors were giving to associations to distribute the food to the animals.

Arie said people were dumping pets because they had suffered loss of income and were unable to care for their pets, while some also believed that their animals could transmit the Covid-19 virus to them.

“Some owners have no responsibility and proper knowledge to care for pets. There is no reason to dump your pets even though you are facing a loss of income. What you eat, your pets can have them too. Your pets too will not be spreading the virus to you. This is a time when everyone is struggling, ” he said.

PAWS Animal Welfare Society shelter manager Edward Lim Choon Sun said since the start of the MCO, four cases of dog dumping had been brought to their attention.

“Dumping has always been going on but hopefully after the MCO, the numbers won’t go up, ” he said.

Lim said there were many factors why dumping might increase, such as people thinking their pets could transmit Covid-19.

Abandoning an animal when it is likely to suffer trauma, pain or suffering is considered animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2015.

Animal cruelty offenders can be fined between RM20,000 and RM100,000, jailed up to three years or both, upon conviction.

Lim said people must be responsible and continue to care for their pets, adding that if there was no good reason for them to surrender their pets, then they should not.

On April 7, the Department of Veterinary Services said there was no evidence of pets transmitting the Covid-19 virus to their owners.

It noted that the source of infection for animals is from humans.

Separately, as private safaris and zoos have seen a loss of income since the enforcement of the MCO, Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria president Dr Kevin Lazarus said they recently appealed for donations to help its members as their main concerns were for animal food cost and salaries of employees.

Dr Kevin said most members could only survive for one or two months and noted that even when the MCO was lifted, things would not go back to normal that quickly.

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