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?