The contentious issue of dogs, especially the strays, is finally getting serious attention from concerned parties keen on creating greater awareness among the public and local councillors on animal rights.
A forum was organized in conjunction with World Animal Day to bring animal lovers, NGOs, local councillors and the public to tackle the dog 'problem'.
It was organized by the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council's Health Department, the Department of Veterinary Services, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Pet Positive, local councils in Selangor and other NGOs.
Canine Action Team (CAT) committee chairman Anthony Thanasayan (left) stressed the importance of understanding dogs and treating them with respect.
This view is supported by State Executive Councillor Ronnie Liu and he said that we should appreciate the usefulness of dogs.
"However, we must control strays as it is a real issue and can be a nuisance.
"The local councils are looking into the best practices with SPCA and other NGOs to be implemented. This issue has been ignored for too long," he added.
According to Liu, the state government is willing to work with NGOs as he admitted that the local councils may not have enough specialist and expertise on handling animals.
Currently, the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council holds monthly meetings with CAT and representatives from other Selangor's local councillors to discuss on matters pertaining dogs.
With regards to the dog catching issue, Thanasayan said that there is no point in catching the strays if the public does not have a wholesome understanding of dogs and their value to the community.
"This action is only a knee jerk reaction and will not be sustainable in the long term," he said.
Free licence for the disabled and elderly
Thanasayan said that other local councils should adopt the move made by the Shah Alam Municipal Council where licensing of dogs by the disabled and elderly is waived.
" We live in fear that our dogs will be caught by dog catchers for the lack of licensing.
"It is a great hassle for many disabled to get out of the house much more to purchase a license as many of them are not able to afford one," Thanasayan added . He was born disabled and is wheelchair bound.
Liu, on his part said that he encourages other local councils to take this into account and emulate the Shah Alam example.
Educating the public
"The earth does not belong solely to humans and we should share it with animals," he said.
People should understand that dogs are not our enemies, he said on educating the public on how to live harmoniously with dogs and the community should understand and treat animals well.
"This is an issue of civic consciousness and everyone should practise civility towards animals,"Liu added (right).
The relevant parties like NGOs, parents, teachers and local councils have the duty to cooperate and instill these values in children from young, he said.
Liu said that it is important for the whole community to cooperate, be it dogs' lovers or not.
"Nevertheless, it is the duty of the councillors to come up with guidelines and it is the duty of the community to follow them," he said.
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