LettersOPINION

Strays, Strays Everywhere

I am pleased to note that the Animal Welfare Bill 2015 has been passed much to the delight of animal and pet lovers. However, I don’t see how effective this act is, unless it is used entirely against any form of animal abuse. In context of this Act, the main concern of addressing the problem of strays remains unsolved. The relation between strays and this new Act must be viewed separately in order to find a solution to eradicate this never ending state of affairs.

Namely, our local authorities seem oblivious to the concerns affecting the community. It has failed in fulfilling its obligation to us as taxpayers and in response to our relentless complaints on strays. Animal rights suggest an ideology of catch, neuter and release which is totally absurd and impractical. There is this misconception that strays are being mistreated, on the contrary, we fear them! Complaints are channelled to the Veterinary Department, without any  action. By not taking a stand, the authorities have deliberately escalated the situation.

Apparently, our local council seem to have their hands tied and often cite lack of funding to eradicate this problem of strays. Undoubtedly, they have been clearly seduced by political manipulation. Among other issues, mountains of garbage lie unmindful to the council. Cutting of grass and cleaning of back lanes have totally stopped. Even so, who is responsible for this stinky task in collecting dogs’ poop? Many years ago, we had homes using bucket latrines, and today; we have to bear with this mess on roads, our homefront, fields, jogging tracks, pavements, and anywhere else convenient for the strays. With hindsight, can we be educated for this unpleasant chore? My residential area is littered with dog poop. Many a time have I collected their poop for disposal and I take it on my own as an example to others, but to no avail.

Moreover, these strays love scavenging garbage and leave the rubbish scattered. They especially chase motorcyclists endlessly, and no matter how submissive they may be, it is still an animal. Joggers and kids alike carry out their activities with anxiety. The senior citizens particularly, during their walks, protect themselves with sticks. An unprecedented attack may happen at any time. Is defending ourselves in any case considered as animal abuse? However, it’s a relief to know that Noah’s Ark, Ipoh, has asserted that neutered dogs are ‘normally’ docile. An overstated statement indeed and I dread to think should an accident occur, leading to loss of life. Some writers have their own conceived theories on the stray pack mentality, comparing methods used by other countries and suggest natural mortality, nonetheless irrelevant. The situation is compounded further by their incessant barking, howling and mating rituals, besides the ‘bonus’ of having dog fur blown and ticks crawling into our living and dining areas.

At this moment of writing, we have around 6-7 dogs – male and female alike in my neighbourhood. It’s an open invitation to other strays too, as the present ‘occupants’ are having a time of their life here.

As a start, I would like to suggest that Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye as patron of  SPCA, to urge all local councillors to look into the community for strays and not involve themselves whenever there is a campaign on catching strays. Do not interfere but listen to the residents plight. Let the authorities do their job. As it is, the animal welfare groups and NGOs easily approach the councillors who also don’t mind voicing in support and for their personal gain and political mileage. It is an undisputable fact that they use this opportunity and come calling against any form of objection and capture of strays. Yes, the councillor does look good in the eyes of the public otherwise, the councillors don’t bother on other matters residents face.

Someone proposed the Animal Welfare & Care as an elective subject in tertiary. This unimaginable proposition, is not only ridiculous, but how do you teach ‘love and care’ when our younger generation don’t even understand the fundamentals of filial piety. We should not experiment with the complexity of human feelings just to make a discovery that we are a caring society. The infamous quote by Mahatma Gandhi — “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” does not hold water anymore – certainly not in our country. Yes, I am speaking up for their rights too. The philosopher Martin Buber has said “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language” – and that is to be saved and cared for in a home or shelter – certainly not to abandonment to face the harshness of reality. As loyal taxpayers, we have the right to a clean, safe, healthy and peaceful neighbourhood.

Baljit Singh Gill

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