Govt needs modern, humane stray dog policy

A VIDEO uploaded to social media on March 23 shows an elderly man in a confrontation with Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers, who were trying to catch dogs at his premises in Taman Kanagapuram.

The senior citizen was reported to be injured in the scuffle, presumably caused by a metal pole used by the officers to capture dogs.

You could wonder why the catchers were so adamant in catching those gentle dogs and used physical force on an old man.

The other perspective is an elderly man disobeying orders from local government council officers, while protecting the animals.

This incident is totally uncalled for. It is a wake-up call to the local government and Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) on the need to address the root cause of our stray population.

The confrontation could have been avoided if the local government was better at communicating its policy on catching strays.

For many, Uncle Khoo should have been given warning letters or an opportunity to pay fines. Technically, he has violated the law.

If there is a complaint about any aggressive stray dog, the complainant should show proof.

Uncle Khoo’s gentle dogs were possibly easy targets for the dog catchers, although there is still yet solid proof to verify claims that his dogs were the culprits.

It is high time that all local council catchers to undergo humane dog catching courses and be equipped with better tools. They must be certified before being deployed to the field. 

The reason why rescuers do not want to hand their animals to these dog catchers is because the dogs often end up with injuries in the capture process.

Moreover, rescuers believe the dogs will be euthanised after a few days, if the dogs are not claimed.

Dogs are at risk of distemper and parvovirus, because they are mixed with sick animals.

Knowing this, no dog lovers in their right mind will surrender their animals to the authorities unless there is no other way out.

We have also seen the emaciated conditions of dogs, some barely alive in the care of Kuala Langat Municipal Council, in a video that went viral earlier this year.

The issue is dogs are abandoned and they roam the streets, looking for food. They become a nuisance but we will continue to see an increase in numbers because they keep on reproducing.

Rescuers can provide homes to a small number of community dogs but research shows that an unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in just six years.

The government needs to manage the stray population, so the better solution is mass spaying and neutering of street animals, perhaps with the help of animal lovers and civil society groups.

We have to revise the existing laws to accept mass neutering instead of culling. We also need to enforce strict penalties on pet abandonment.

The authorities should ban all construction sites from keeping dogs as they will be abandoned once the project is completed. We have to stop the commercial and illegal breeding mills.

We have to create more compassionate society to dogs and cats through school education, public awareness campaigns.

The current practice of removing and euthanising street dogs is not only cruel, it’s pointless.

Scientific evidence indicated that removing them only opens up the habitat to an influx of more dogs.

For example Selangor caught 23,785 dogs in 2016. This number rose to 29,463 in 2019. Where do all the dogs go once they are caught?

This is the reason the Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release (TNR) method of humanely managing stray dogs has been adopted in many countries, including Singapore.

These neutered dogs are fed, managed and loved by the community. They are expected to live up to 10 years, and after that we will then see a reduction in their population.

TNR has now been successfully implemented on Penang Island, administered by IAPWA Penang.

Most of dog rescuers are self-funded, with no help from the government. It is time for ministers and excos to intervene and stop animal cruelty, by both the public and civil servants.

Anyone witnessing animal abuse must record, come forward and report to Department of Veterinary Services.

We are urging for the kind intervention from Minister of Housing & Local Government Nga Kor Ming and Selangor exco Ng Sze Han. – April 1, 2023.

* Dr Kartini Farah Rahim and Angie Ng are animal rights activists.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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  • Thank you for this balanced and informative letter. I hope the suggestions put forward will be taken up by the relevant agencies and individuals. However, before we move on, I think we need to really acknowledge that the behaviour of the MBPJ dogcatchers in violent assaulting the elderly man and brutally hauling away his dogs is totally unacceptable and the men in question should be severely punished. So far, they have been allowed to get away scot free, while the old man has been charged in court for obstructing the officers. This gives a dangerous message that enforcement officers can behave with impunity, including using exreme acts of violence against the public. I have also been extremely disappointed that only one or two of our esteemed leaders and MPs have spoken up on this issue. Is our Malaysia Madani so madani that the brutal attack on one elderly man by several council 'officers' is too unimportant to merit comment from our leaders?

    Posted 11 months ago by Alina Rastam · Reply