Councils are barking up the wrong tree


Difficult rule: The new ruling to get consent from one’s neighbours to own a dog will be more problematic than helpful.

IT is not easy owning a dog in Malaysia. On top of having to deal with the usual doggy problems like preventing them from digging up the garden, destroying the furniture, grooming their unruly fur, and the tick and flea problem, dog owners seem to face another hurdle from councils.

The Batu Gajah District Council (MDBG) recently announced its new requirement for dog owners to seek consent from their neighbours if they want a dog licence.

This move is not set in stone yet: MDBG is running it on a trial basis, covering residents who want to get a pet dog for the first time. However, existing dog owners are also encouraged to get their neighbours’ approval.

MDBG council president Nurdiana Puaadi told The Star that the move is to ensure better management of pets and to ensure there are fewer complaints from people.

Nurdiana’s reasoning is that once neighbours give their approval, they “cannot complain” to the council. She says that it will also “help keep stray dog problems in check”.

The application form states that residents staying at terrace lots need the consent from neighbours from both sides.

Those staying in bungalows, semi-detached and cluster homes need the agreement from neighbours on both sides and at the back.

I, for one, totally disagree with this move. Not only is it unfair to discriminate against dog owners, but getting permission from your neighbours to own a dog is completely ridiculous.

I believe that owning a pet dog should be your decision and your right. I don’t think it is fair to let the decision of owning a dog rest on your neighbours.

Not all neighbours are friendly and not all neighbours are dog-friendly. Some people view dogs as being noisy and dirty, and if given a choice I’m sure many people would not give their blessing for their neighbours to own dogs.

There have also been a number of cases of dogs being ill-received by some Malaysians.

Remember that time a Rottweiler was shot with two arrows for standing outside a man’s gate in 2014?

The man who shot and wounded the dog said that it had stood at his gate and refused to move. That is when he shot the dog. Twice.

A number of my friends have told me of incidents of their dogs being poisoned or hurt by strangers.

I am not saying that all Malaysians hate dogs, it’s just that they seemed less welcomed in comparison to other pets.

Sometimes, just the mention of a dog will be enough to put someone on their guard. There is a high chance they will not sign off on you owning a dog.

However, it is also important for dog owners not to give your neighbours something to complain about.

It is the responsibility of a pet owner to be able to train your dog to avoid behaviours such as excessive barking or running out of the gate.

Yes, it is natural for your dog to bark. But something is wrong if your dog will not stop barking. Your dog is probably trying to tell you that something is wrong. So do pay attention to your dog and its needs.

There is also the issue about why this new ruling only applies to dogs. It can be argued that cats can be just as noisy and just as much of a nuisance as dogs.

Further, cats can easily jump over fences and “trespass” in your property, and sometimes leave a “deposit” on your lawn!

This new ruling seems very one-sided and there seem to be several questions that have arisen from this requirement: what if the house next to you is vacant? What happens when a new neighbour moves in?

So what is the penalty if you ignore MDBG’s rules and regulations? Owners can be fined a maximum of RM2,000 or jailed not more than a year or both if found guilty under any provisions of the Dog Licensing and Dog Breeding House By-laws.

Plus, dogs three years or older found without a licence can be impounded and put down. Frankly, detaining or killing an animal because of its owner’s mistake is cruel.

I think the MDBG should be concerned about the welfare of the animal rather than worrying about the complaints they might receive from neighbours.

The council should ensure that owners are taking care of their pet’s basic necessities, such as shelter, food and adequate veterinary care. Shouldn’t the well-being of the animal be more important than neighbours’ complaints?

Online reporter Victoria Brown’s Behind The Cage tackles the pressing issues of animal rights and environmental awareness. She can be reached at victoria@thestar.com.my.

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Opinion , Victoria Brown , columnist

   

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