A Broken Promise To The Residents

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By Jerry Francis

Ipoh City Council has carried out shooting of stray dogs like a “covert operation” after it had promised to ban shooting and to adopt more humane methods to overcome the problem.

We, the residents and animal care NGOs, are justifiably very upset as we feel that we have been hoodwinked by the promise. Shooting of stray dogs in the city has been going on since March, but neither the NGOs nor the public had knowledge of it until recently.

Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim was quick to respond to criticisms with a clarification that the council “had an option to shoot dogs as it is allowed to do so based on its local by-laws.”

Of course, the city council has the “option” to shoot; there is no argument about it as the by-law has never been amended to ban shooting. We have accepted the promise from the City Council to stop shooting in good faith and welcomed it as we believed that the City Council had become compassionate after dragging its feet in finding a solution to the problem of stay dogs and cats for many years.

Can we accept the excuse given by the City Council now, that those humane methods – shooting the dogs with tranquilisers and setting up traps to round-up stray dogs – are “not practical”? Is the Mayor implying that our enforcement officers, tasked to deal with the stray dogs problem in the city, are not competent and intelligent to adopt the humane methods, which are being used successfully by their counterparts in Selangor?

How can we trust the City Council in the future? This is not the first time the City Council has gone against its assurances. Take for instance, the stray cattle problem in the city, where assurance after assurance had been given by various city officials and even the state chairman for local government, Dato’ Mah Hong Soon. But nothing had come of it.

Herds of cattle are still seen lying on the roads at night particularly in the Silibin and Menglembu areas endangering the lives of motorists. Is this not contradicting the authorities’ assurance that when it comes to the safety of the people, there will be “no compromise”?

In the case of dog shooting, the promise to ban shooting was made following the uproar that resulted in the shooting of Spunk, a senior therapy dog and companion to an elderly woman, by City Council’s enforcement officers in Merdeka Garden despite having a licence about a year ago.

All the animal related NGOs including the Ipoh Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), Noah’s Ark Ipoh and The Sanctuary Ipoh, SPCA Selangor and the Malaysian Animal-Assistant Therapy for Disabled, Elderly Association (Petpositive) also converged at Ipoh City Council to protest the shooting.

Following the wide-spread protest, which was even posted on the internet, the council’s secretary Dato’ Hj Abdul Rahim bin Mohd Ariff declared an immediate ban on shooting, formation of a sub-committee and to work very closely with the Veterinary Services Department and NGOs on how to handle stray dogs. Some of the measures proposed were to establish a pound for animals that were caught as well as the methods to be used to capture the animals.

The City Council’s failure to fulfil its commitments came to light when on September 27, Noah’s Ark Ipoh (NAI) received a call from Prima Condominium about dog shooters requesting to enter the compound in search of a stray dog that entered its premises.

When the NAI’s team went to the condominium they found a trail of blood “all round the premises” but did not find the dog which led them to conclude the dog would die a slow and painful death.

The Mayor, at a press conference after the council’s monthly full board meeting, acknowledged that his enforcement team had shot at the dog. “MBI had earlier received complaints that a dog was barking at nurses from a nearby hospital after duty,” he said.

Meantime, the Mayor was quoted as saying that the City Council was planning to outsource this function of dealing with the stray dogs problem. It had identified two potential companies that could undertake the task.

The question is why outsource the task to private companies when there are the NAI and ISPCA, and not forgetting several animal loving individuals, doing a great job with their efforts to save stray animals in the city? Why not allow these NGOs to take over the responsibility of rounding up the stray dogs? Just channel the funds from the annual dog licences’ fees, estimated at about RM200,000, to the NGOs.

Who will be better to undertake the responsibility than these NGOs, which were formed with the objective to care for the homeless dogs and cats?


13 thoughts on “A Broken Promise To The Residents

  1. joseph…yeap, u r rite. better stay in a cage instead of stay outside d cage & barking others without doing nothing.
    n congrates to ngos & individuals who play their part without hoping for rewards.

  2. zoo, u must be still in the zoo’s cage. did u not read the comment from Desertbug. there are ngos and individuals in the city who are doing their best to help the helpless animals. many of them with their own money.
    wherelse, the city council and its employees get the taxpayers’ fund and from fee for the dog tags, yet they could not carry out their responsibility efficiently.
    why are they so incompetent and unintelligent?

  3. “Patches” was a stray running around Taman Istana over 10 years ago. She was a mixed breed small dog with a fluffy grey and white coat. She survived by hiding underneath bushes, culverts and drains from the merciless shotgun totting offciers of DBI, trundling around in their black landrover hitched to a little trailer for a few years. Nervous and afraid of humans, she was near impossible to come within touching distance. She lived by her wits and sheer luck, soon became a fixture in the area. Thinking her luck will eventually run out one day, a “search and rescue” was carried out. After a good two hours she was finally cornered, inside a Malay restaurant, of all places. The workers were undrestanding enough to allow her capture. Eventually after scratching, howling, struggling she looked even better after a good bath and food. She was an independent little creature and thankfully got on well with the four other “captures”. These numbers would rise and fall, as more were “invited” and “vetted” homes were found for them but the ones that pulled on the heart strings remained, until their final release, bringing temporary pain leaving only good memories. In all, over 100 little, large, maimed, fit, young and old canines were “rescued”, treated, fed, housed and much loved for over 14 years. It is baffling why a large populace of Malaysia cannot come to terms with a canine. They are loyal and loving. It is even more baffling why death is instituted inhumanely by the men with shotguns in uniforms. Where lies compassion, humanity and spirit ? Failing to understand this incompletes the understanding I have for the so called “caring” gentle people of Malaysia, and in a little town called Ipoh, for that matter, where life is a little more laid back and supposedly more pleasant. It is baffling indeed when our leaders cannot show compassion and mercy to canines that are clearly dependent on their benefactors. It continues to do so. It is in hope that one day this will change for the better, and until such time this is written in the loving memory of the furry four legged friends, those to come, making life even richer.

  4. Thank you for speaking for the fourlegged. Man’s Best Friend should be treated fairly. Despite the poor economy, I love my country. But when it comes to animal welfare, it really gets onto my nerve, how the authority mishandels the stray dogs is totally unacceptable.
    Shame on our government, especially, SHAME on you!! IPOH COUNCIL.

  5. Well written Jerry.
    To be honest, I am deeply disappointed in our city council. It’s heartbroken knowing that the stray dogs out there, despite living a miserable life, still have to run for their life from being shot to death.

    The NGO’s do deserve to be given a chance to control stray problem using the funds collected. ( As a matter of fact, I do believe the figure you mentioned about annual collection from dog licensing. Judging by the dog license tag has been out of stock for a few times this year. Which means the demand is greater than they expected)

    I think as public, we deserve an explanation from the city council, “WHY” is the funds collected from “US” are being used to perform such Inhumane and Uncivilized method to kill the stray instead of allocating the budget to the NGO’s to undertake this task.

  6. the main question being raised by jerry is why those humane methods could be successfully carried out in selangor that our enforcement officers found them “not practical”? are they less competent and intelligent to switch to the humane methods, or they just not willing to do so?
    if the mbi is willing to outsource the task of dealing with stray dogs to private companies, why not to the ngos? well with sufficient funds and efficient by-law, i am sure the ngos will accept the challenge.
    the estimated amount of rm200,000 was probably based by jerry from the 20,000 dog license tags issued at rm10 each by mbi. mbi claimed that all have been taken. the fact that the dog tags have run out of stock shows that many dog owners do take the license.

  7. Letting somebody loose with a gun in public is dangerous, irregardless whether that person is licensed or not. It is therefore logical to conclude that shooting a dog (strays or otherwise) in public places, particularly near residential areas, should be discouraged. Stray dogs could be rounded up, as most western countries do, and euthanized in secure places like dog pounds. If this could be done in other ‘civilised’ countries, why not in Malaysia. But prior to that, the owners should be give the opportunity to reclaim their pets in exchange for a fine or otherwise….

  8. once again we admit it,the task of rounding up strays, is being done in other countries for “a long time”. certainly it is also “boleh” in malaysia, or at least in the ipoh city council’s area.
    of course, we need to look at all the regulations required by the ngos if they are to take over the responsibilities.
    if the ngos are not willing to accept with funding from the city council, then they are not living up to their objectives.
    furthermore, can we expect that by outsourcing the task to private companies the job could be carried out better than the ngos?

  9. Well written artcile and it does make a lot of sense. Can City Hall even think this rationally ? Heck No, it would be too simple.

  10. Hi Jerry,

    While what you have written has been repeated by many time again, your last two paragraphs is what I am interested in.

    I’ve spoken to a stray animal consultant some time back and he told me that the idea of an NGO taking over the rounding up of strays would indeed be a feasible idea. It seems other countries have been adopting this system for a long time. As you mentioned, funds from licensing would be channeled to the NGO undertaking this task in order to do it. Very reasonable indeed!

    Unfortunately Jerry, you have gotten one main fact wrong. That fact is, there is no RM 200,000 from licensing funds as you’ve clearly stated. I don’t even think there is RM 20,000 in dog license fees collected annually! Look around you, how many people actually take the trouble to license their dogs?

    Let’s also take a look at the NGOs. Would they take up the challenge if they were offered this task? Provided of course the imaginary RM 200,000 were allocated to them? That would mean also that the NGO would have to attend to ALL the complaints pertaining to the stray and owned animals throughout MBI’s jurisdiction! Not just dogs but cats and other animals like poultry and possibly roaming livestock as well!

    Lastly, another important factor to ponder upon, while the NGOs should be more competent in sheltering the strays, how sure are you that the they would do a better job in rounding up strays? Most of the strays they manage to “rescue” are the puppies and previously owned adults which are not as aggressive as the majority population of aggressive strays. What about these “classification” of strays otherwise known as feral strays? I doubt even the most prominent animal NGO in Malaysia could do a better job than the councils or their appointed contractors when it comes to this.

    On the bright side, I think there is still hope! Remember I mentioned earlier about this animal consultant that I met some time back? I’ve seen this guy demonstrate actual stray animal capture scenarios to a local council in Selangor earlier this year and he was very professional in his methods. Perhaps it would be a good idea for the MBI to seek his opinion instead?

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