I REFER to the letter “Let’s mark Prevention of Animal Cruelty month” (The Star, Feb 26) by Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who made several salient suggestions on how to promote love for animals among Malaysians. Among others, Lee pointed out the importance of education in achieving this goal.
While this is certainly laudable, it should be stressed that educators themselves must have the right values and mentality pertaining to the issue. It is wrong to assume that all teachers will inculcate compassion and love for animals. The sad fact is that not all educators are equipped or qualified to do this, especially if they themselves encourage violence towards animals outside the school grounds.
Some of the worst animal abuse incidents I have witnessed were instigated by a schoolteacher who even got her children to take part. What was worse was they saw nothing wrong in what they did, and instead branded animal lovers as evil.
This cruelty to animals was perpetrated by three generations (from grandparents to grandchildren) of the teacher’s family. They poisoned or killed stray animals without a second thought. Even people’s pets were not safe from them.
Nevertheless, I agree that education is vital, on the condition that genuine animal advocates are hired for the job. There are many animal lovers and/or rescuers who run shelters and independently organise campaigns to raise awareness on this issue. These people could be the ultimate go-to for information on the matter.
Lee also expressed his wish for the wider community to be involved in the fight against crimes committed towards animals. I agree that this could be the death knell for such offences. However, not many are ready to become the voice for defenceless creatures. In my experience, some animal advocates do not want to highlight animal cruelty on their platforms for reasons such as “This is very normal” or “If you want to do this (i.e. animal volunteerism and rescue), you should just learn to accept it and ignore it”; or “I’ve heard of cases worse than this, you should turn a blind eye and accept that it’s their fate.”
I am flabbergasted, to say the least, as I do not think speaking up about animal abuse is classified as emotional or negative! I’m afraid their focus is solely on rehoming or adoption of strays.
If these so-called animal advocates continue to adopt the three monkeys’ approach – see, hear and speak no evil – what hope is there for the rest of society who are non-animal lovers?
Moving forward, it is hoped that with persistence and advocacy work, such attitudes would turn with the tide towards true stewardship and welfare of animals, wild or not, free or in captivity.
Let’s work towards building a haven instead of a living hell for animals. Let’s make Prevention of Animal Cruelty month really count.