A dog is not just for Christmas

By Mariam Mokhtar

thinking allowed - mariam mokhtarStray dogs are a nuisance 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 find out why there are stray dogs.

Has a stray dog survey ever been done? 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?

The inhumane killing of dogs has sparked public outcries in Ipoh, but with the ban on shooting, the number of stray dogs has increased to worrying levels. If a solution is not found soon, the conflict between dog lovers, animal welfare groups and the authorities, who are acting in the interests of the public, may escalate again.

The story of Spunk, the companion and therapy dog to a 77-year-old lady from Ipoh, is still fresh in our minds. Spunk was killed in late 2010 by council dog-catchers who shot him dead when his owner left him unattended, at their house gate, for a few minutes. Ipoh City Council (MBI) enforcement officers “mistook” Spunk for a stray.

The cruel death of this licensed dog, forced the authorities to review their stray animals policy. After meetings with animal welfare and animal rights groups, the MBI secretary Abdul Rahim Mohd Ariff announced an immediate ban on the shooting of dogs in Ipoh.

At the time, many pet lovers wondered how long this “amnesty” would last.  Recently, a new stray dog problem has been highlighted in the mainstream papers.

Last month, traders and ordinary residents reported an increase in stray dogs in areas around markets, hawker centres and residential areas. Many children and adults were afraid to walk in the vicinity of their homes, because of marauding packs of dogs roaming freely in their neighbourhood. Others feared for their children’s safety. Issues of health and hygiene have also been highlighted.

The Perak Malay Hawkers and Small Traders Association president Omar Ahmad claimed that the problem had worsened over the years. He has demanded immediate action from the authorities, namely the MBI and the health ministry.

Omar said, “Previously, we used to see them only near the food courts and markets. Now, they’re everywhere, including residential areas. Something should be done fast by MBI to resolve the matter before untoward incidents occur.”

In one incident in Gunung Rapat, a teenage boy fell off his motorbike, when he was pursued by a stray dog, He panicked and hit a parked car. He sustained bruises and needed stitches for a head injury.

People in various residential areas such as Ampang Baru and Taman Cempaka, are increasingly worried about these stray dogs. No human has been attacked but these residents would like the MBI to do something about the dogs before serious problems arise.

They refer to the health hazards caused by dogs rummaging through litter bins scavenging for food and the unsightly scenes of litter strewn around dustbin sites.Afraid of their children being attacked, parents have, as a precaution, stopped their children from playing outside their homes.

The council has issued a statement claiming that catching the dogs was not as effective as shooting them. They claim that the dogs run away, to evade capture, whenever there were attempts to round them up.

On June 5, the MBI announced that they have sought professional help to resolve the stray dog problem. Mayor Roshidi Hashim announced that a tender had been awarded the previous month, to a company which would be paid RM45 for every stray caught unharmed.

Roshidi said, “The council received an increasing number of reports on stray dogs requiring immediate action. Since we can’t shoot the dogs, we have awarded a tender that will carry out the humane way of dogcatching.” Reassuring the the public, he said, “In cases involving public safety, I will take the blame,” and said that the council would act should any dog be injured or pose a public threat.

Perhaps, one of the ways to resolve the stray dog problem would be for the MBI to conduct a “Stray Dog Survey”, for each of the districts served by the council. That might show us the true extent and severity of the stray dog problem.

Most of all, dog owners must act responsibly if the problem of stray dogs is to be effectively managed and dogs spared from being killed. Malaysians are well aware of irresponsible people who own pedigree dogs just to show off.

As responsible dog owners know, one of the most effective ways of reducing the number of strays is to neuter their dogs to prevent unwanted and unplanned litters. Having their dogs microchipped and tagged are also essential so that dog and owner can be reunited easily in case they are separated.

Resources, the availability of dedicated and trained staff at aninal welfare groups and NGOs are limited and the MBI can only do so much. Capturing the dogs should not be seen as the best or only way of preventing the stray dog menace. The most effective way is by a concerted campaign of education, public awareness and a responsible attitude to dog ownership and breeding.

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3 thoughts on “A dog is not just for Christmas

  1. I agree that stray dogs can be a nuisance. I too have been chased and bitten by a stray dog. I was angry for a while but on the other hand I love dogs too. It is not their fault but the public. A little effort on the part of public goes a long way. Moreover dogs don’t have the ability to think like humans. The public should be educated. They should not dump dogs especially the females. Most of them prefer to keep males. It is a wrong attitude because females are good watchdogs compared to males. If you want to dump them male or female at least get them spayed, euthanised, etc first. I guess no one will ever do this. MBI shot 3 stray dogs I was looking after due to public complaints. They were good dogs and the reason why they started chasing people or children was because they too, especially the naughty boys from the Kampung and the residential houses around used to chase, shout and throw stones at them causing them to react. Dogs may be HARAM to the Malays but they too have the right to live on earth just like the cats. Teach the children to love animals and to treat them kindly and they too will love in return. So MBI (Mayor Roshidi Hashim), do come up with something sensible and please do not hire those SENSELESS BOUNTY HUNTERS from KL EVER AGAIN.

  2. I agree that MBI has to address the stray dog population. It is getting out of control.The strays are there because of the irresponsibility of the pet owners. Time and again we have said that the public needs to be educated on this . Noahs Ark has conducted several education drives.This should start at schools. We have been to see the head of Education and sought permission to do this at local schools. They said they will discuss and come back to us but we are still waiting! MBI should start imposing heavier penalties to errant dog owners. It needs to have a pound. MBI/ dvs needs to work with NGO’s and conduct a spay/nueter campaign. Any unhealthy dog or cat needs to be euthanised. NAI does not say MBI cannot catch dogs, its saying do it without cruelty and if you have to put it to sleep do it do it humanely.

  3. Datuk Bandar has boldly declared to take responsibility on any dog attack. He should be non the wiser, not to take this challenge but to focus on attempts to rid of the stray dog problem which is plaguing the city and residential areas. Yet to see results of the so called company to catch dogs the ‘professional’ way. We dont need a stray dog survey at this moment bec seeing is believing. Any survey is to the advantage to the other side. A survey buys time and can always be disputed. In fact what we need is survey on our councillors performance, although again …? The severity of this stray dog problem , in addition to the cleanliness of back-lanes in my area – Taman Silibin goes beyond words. There are 2 mattresses lying for the past few months right at a junction oblivious to MBI and the rest of the residents.I made a complaint but no action again. Dogs freely roam the area as though they are the residents themselves. They take morning and evening walks and occasionally greet residents. Just for the record, I have nothing against dogs. Sometimes I think we are wasting our time , energy and efforts etc.

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