My Say

Is Cruelty to Rodents Acceptable?

By Jerry Francis

We have seen and heard of various cases of cruelty to animals in the country, particularly small ones. Some offenders were even found guilty and severely punished under the Animal Welfare Act.

This shows there is certainly a lack of providing better protection for all creatures in the country, irrespective of big or small.

Many pets are known to suffer at the hands of owners who either don’t care or don’t know how to care for their animals.

The biggest victims of animal cruelty and abuse are dogs, some of which lead a precarious existence in our society. Among the cases brought before the courts were scalding a stray dog with boiling water, starving a pet dog, and hitting a dog with a crash helmet.

And most recently, a man was fined RM2000 under Section 44 (1)(a) of the Animal Welfare Act by a magistrate court in Kuala Lumpur for throwing a shoe at a stray cat.

Yet, cases of horrendous treatment such as, pouring boiling water on trapped rodents, or letting them suffer and die of dehydration, have been ignored.

Is it okay to be cruel to rodents, which are considered pests and bearers of disease. Do we classify which animals can be subjected to cruelty and which should not?

If not, where are the animal welfare activists who had even claimed that the punishment meted out to the man for throwing a shoe at a stray cat was insufficient? They feel that a more severe punishment should have been given.

Generally, I do not agree that the mere action of throwing a shoe to scare away a stray cat should be punishable with a RM2000 fine. Unless such action was intended to severely hurt the animal. Many of us will agree that at one time or other, we may have thrown a stone or some other things at a stray dog, cat or cattle for causing a nuisance.

Don’t the animal welfare activists consider that rodents are also animals and should not be subjected to such cruelty?

Walking along the side and back lanes of New Town and Old Town, I have often come across rodents being left in traps in the hot sun to suffer death by dehydration. In such cases, I try to ignore and walk away. But hardly 10m away my conscience begins to prick me at the cruel way of condemning the rodents to death. And on at least two occasions I had turned back and after assuring myself that no one was watching, released the poor trapped rodents.

In another case, the trapped rodent had suffered and died of dehydration before I could release it.

Of course the shopkeepers, who had trapped the rats and left them to die of dehydration, will be very angry if they caught me releasing the rodents. Somehow I had managed to avoid a confrontation with them.

I just cannot bear the thought of seeing any animal suffer and die of dehydration after witnessing a rabbit accidentally left in a cage had died within an hour. Now, even those rats caught in the traps around my house were released in the secondary jungle away from housing estates.

I hope the Veterinary Services Department can find a humane method to put down the rats and recommend to the shopkeepers so that such cruel measure adopted by them can be avoided.

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