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How you can help reduce the stray dog problem

  • A pet is not just for birthdays, or Christmas, or for Valentine's Day. A pet is for life.

By Mariam Mokhtar

If the manner in which we treat animals is a reflection of our society, then what do the news reports about animals being tortured, maimed or killed, say about us?

Dogs have been poisoned or clubbed to death, in various parts of the country. A dog in Sabah had his lower jaw sliced off. Last week, in Langkawi, passers-by found a dead dog with two arrows sticking out of its body. All the religions teach us to show kindness to both humans and animals, so what happened to our compassion?

It is not just individuals who are responsible for the inhumane killing of animals. During the recent rabies scare, employees from the Department of Veterinary Services, supported by council workers, members of the military and policemen, were involved in a mass culling exercise.

The teams didn't just target stray dogs which were roaming the streets and villages, they allegedly trespassed private properties, and killed dogs which had been licensed and had already received the rabies vaccination.

Many parts of the country have a stray dog problem, but catching them will not solve the problem. The authorities have limited resources but more important, it is also the responsibility of dog owners and dog breeders.

To resolve the stray dog issue, we should first discover why there are stray dogs. Has a stray dog survey ever been done? Which department compiles the data? How do present results compare with older records? Who takes cares of the strays? How qualified are the staff in the pounds? What percentage of the total (of stray dogs), is put down if they are unable to be found a home? What is the cost to the taxpayer?

Drastic action must be taken, because it is evident, that the authorities are unable to cope. If a solution is not found, the conflict between dog lovers, animal welfare groups and the authorities, who are acting in the interests of the public, may escalate again.

Noah's Ark Ipoh (NAI) is an animal welfare charity based in Ipoh. It was started in 2005, by veterinarian, Dr Ranjit Mendhir Kaur. NAI's main aim is to reduce the stray population, but it also deals with emergency calls from the public, rescues injured animals and provides transport so they can receive treatment. It is run by volunteers and various events are organized, for fund-raising. NAI works closely with other NGOs, who visit schools, to bring awareness about animal welfare.

Malika Ramiah Oates, NAI's shelter manager, said, "It is difficult to quantify the stray population, as you can walk down a single street and find up to 10 strays, both cats and dogs."

When asked if she knew how many strays could be found in a year, said, "We believe there could easily be over 30,000 strays. They are multiplying at the rate of knots.

"A cat can have a litter every three months. A dog can have a litter every six months. Their offspring can start the cycle when they are around six months."

She is unaware who compiles official statistics but blames the stray population on irresponsible pet ownership.

Malika said, "People who have pets or dogs to protect their homes do not neuter their pets. They are allowed to roam outside and when they have a litter which they don’t want, the animals are dumped, usually at the markets or eateries.

"I don't know how they expect newborns to survive without their moms. Many still buy animals.

"The ones who adopt strays do not have time to take care of them. And strangely they haven’t moved away from the belief that it’s against nature and God's will to neuter."

Malika has a few suggestions that pet owners could heed, to reduce the population of strays, and to help with animal care and welfare. The pet owners could:

1. Be a responsible pet owner.
2. Don’t shop. Adopt a stray instead.
3. Neuter your pet.
4. Do not let it stray.
5. Do not abandon your pet when you are tired of it. Do not abandon when it gets old. Do not abandon it when you move house. Do not abandon it when it falls ill. Do not abandon it when you have a new baby. Do not abandon your parent's pet when they die.

Local councils cannot resolve the problem of stray animals on their own, and should interact with local NGOs; but pet owners can also do their bit.

A pet is not just for birthdays, or Christmas, or for Valentine's Day. A pet is for life.

Please be a responsible pet owner.

Sources:

1. YouTube: Report lodged after video circulates of man killing puppies
2. Metro News UK: Drunk man hacked off dog’s nose ‘for fun’ when it came begging for food
3. New Straits Times: Dog found dead with arrows sticking out of body
4. Vice: Malaysian authorities massacre dogs amid public outcry

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)

 

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