By Caren Leong
Ex (and always) Ipoh Girl
Let’s talk about an open secret of Ipoh—the Papan dumpsite. For years, dogs caught by MBI have been dumped there. With no food or water, they survive on the kindness of volunteer feeders. Around the time MCO started in March, MBI stepped up its operations to catch the dogs around town. Many more dogs—stray, lost, and abandoned—have ended up there.
Yes, MBI needs to do something about the dogs on the streets of Ipoh but throwing all of them at some garbage dump outside of town is not the solution. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not a solution. Kicking the can down the road, even if it’s all the way to Papan, actually makes things worse.
What do we think will happen when hundreds of mature dogs are forced to live in a small area?
Litters and litters of unwanted puppies; confused dogs killed on the road while looking for their way home; hungry dogs poisoned in the nearby housing areas; etc. The especially unlucky 13th poison victim (in the span of about three months) was a nursing mommy who left behind three crying puppies. Things will only get much worse for the dogs, area residents, drivers, and especially the NGOs, rescuers and feeders.
For years, Ipoh NGOs and many individual rescuers have been practicing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR); trapping the dogs for spaying/neutering and returning them to where they were trapped. TNR is a proven method around the world to manage stray cat and dog populations.
Neutered male dogs become more mellow and have no reason to fight for mates anymore. Spayed females have fewer reasons to be aggressive since they won’t have new puppies to protect. These dogs live out their lives as “community dogs”.
Many people may still find TNR unacceptable because they want the dogs off the streets. That would require MBI to fund a well-managed facility that provides shelter and food, veterinary services for population control, vaccination, and medical treatment.
Until then, small-scale TNR, rescuing, and adoption are all the rescuers can afford. Yet, rescuers are often penalized for having more dogs than is currently allowed. Some have been fined as much as RM300; money they could use for spaying and neutering. With the pandemic, donations are very hard to come by. Please, MBI, stop binding these helping hands. They are not criminals. This is counterproductive to your own goals too.
We know Ipoh’s leadership has big plans for the city. We hope they include either a shelter or a TNR program. Let’s start with removing the limit on how many dogs a rescuer can save as long as the dogs are well cared for. Offer a new “Rescuer License”, or simply allow rescuers to pay for more licenses. That will generate revenue for the city too. It will be a quadruple win – for Ipoh, for the residents, for the rescuers, and for the innocent dogs that never asked to be born.