Thursday, January 13, 2011

Time To Think And Act Rationally About Dogs

Here is PETPOSITIVE'S unabridged statement that is scheduled to appear in The Star today on the mauling by dogs of a foreigner on Sunday. 

We refer to The Star's update on the latest situation on the dog mauling incident in Penang. (Eye on two killer dogs, January 11, 2011)


It is extremely difficult to say for sure what happened at this stage without knowing every fact that took place in the farm in Penang. 


However, one can always be sure that when it comes to canines, when they "kill" humans, it is almost always that they are victims of the tragedy as well.


We are positive that when the investigation is fully completed, we will finally have some answers pointing to the errors that resulted to this incident. 


For now, we are pleased that the right body, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) is in charge of the situation, instead of the police or the local council. 


We will first have to wait and see if rabies was the cause for the dogs to attack.


If not, then the next step would be to see if the canines can be rehabilitated. And more importantly, perhaps, who would be willing to adopt and care for the dogs.


Whatever the case, what happened is only the tip of the iceberg in matters regarding canine misbehaviour.


There are many dog owners who unwittingly subject their animals to daily "aggressive training".


These include being tied up or locked up in small cages all day and only let out (if at all) at night to protect properties and homes.


These pets hardly have any chance to socialize. They are only taken for brief walks (if at all) to defecate - and not for exercise, as what it should be.


Dogs should never be taken in solely for the purpose of protecting property. They need love, kindness and attention just like any one of us.


The best canines are those that are invited to live inside our homes with us - not outside. They should even be encouraged to go on drives in our cars regularly.


Anyone who can't meet up with such responsibilities should never keep dogs for the animals' sake as well as their own.


Local councils can also play a strategic role in ensuring that pet dogs are kept properly.


Instead of visiting homes only to check if dogs have licenses, the authorities should go a step further to come up with a helpful questionnaire or pamphlets to make sure that pet owners are taking care of their pets in a proper way.


These would serve as timely reminders or educational material to ensure pets are kept well so that issues of complaints or tragedies are kept to a minimum or are never repeated.


Finally, we would like to refer to a comment made by Christine Lai in your report that pit bulls have an in-built "ferocious streak."


If Lai had checked her facts she would have discovered that pit bulls are one of the most intelligent and highly caring canines that are beginning to be discovered in the United States at least.


They are not only wonderfully gentle with children but also being increasingly used as assistance and therapy dogs for the disabled and the elderly in helping them lead positive lives.


Describing pit bulls as being "ferocious" is a completely untrue statement that directly goes against what more and more animal rights activists believe about errant dogs today: "It is never the dogs' fault but the owners".


The reason why pit bulls attack dogs and humans is because they are trained by humans that way. There are even dedicated pit bull rescue teams that work hard to rescue these dogs from such a predicament.


At a time of such a terrible tragedy where a human life has gone, it is important for all of us to think and act rationally based on what actually happened in this remote tragic case and come up with the right answers.


Let us also be reminded of the hundreds of thousands of other dogs in our country that continue to help keep our homes secure, bring joy to the sick, comfort to the elderly, hope for the disabled and happiness to everyone through their loyal and affectionate companionship.


Anthony SB Thanasayan 






Here is an update from yesterday's New Straits Times Press: 

GEORGE TOWN: The two mongrels quarantined at the state Veterinary Department in Balik Pulau here, after mauling an Irish tourist to death, have shown no signs of aggression despite being caged.

Department director Dr Wan Mohd Kamil Wan Nik said early observation showed there was no abnormal behaviour from the dogs.

The dogs are being quarantined for 10 days, from Monday, to allow the department to study their behavioural patterns.

He said the dog owner, Joseph Teoh, dropped by at the animal cell to bathe the dogs about 9am yesterday.
"The dogs appeared normal and Teoh had no problem handling them. There are also no signs that the dogs have rabies."

However, he said it was still early and the observation was far from over.

"There are still nine more days to go so we are keeping tabs on both dogs. We will update our report on a daily basis."

Asked on the matter of licensing, he said the Penang Island Municipal Council was tasked with issuing dog licences to owners.

"In Penang, unlike in other states, dog licensing is under the purview of the local council and not under the Veterinary Department. We have no jurisdiction as far as dog licensing is concerned."

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Anonymous said...

Any dogs will can turn aggressive if they feel threatened and breed plays a very little part in it.

We should stop putting the blame on dogs or their breed. Animals became feral because of the lack of socialization. Furthermore I believe that the nature of the victim's work tend to appear rather intrusive from a dog's point of view. The dogs probably perceived the camera as an unfamiliar weapon or object as well. From experience, I noticed that many dogs tend to get spooked by cameras and by the shutter sounds.

We will never know what actually happened as there could be a range of possibilities; one being that the victim did not properly "introduce" himself to the dogs. This was the first time that the farm received volunteers and even though the owner mentioned that the victim has met the dog, that one meeting probably was not enough.

Let this be a lesson to all pet owners to ensure that your pets are well-socialized and if necessary never ever leave them with a stranger.

The animals have no way of telling us their side of the story and most of the time pay the price with their lives.


Anonymous said...

These dog owners do not even pick up after thier pets have done 'big business' in public places. The City and Town Councils better watch watch out. If you do not act now by the year 2020 your domain will be Dog Pooed.

We cannot even tackle this problem which is a glaring abdication of responsibility of pet owners,how are we going to hold them responsible for deaths caused by their pets. Their answer will be my dog bit the postman because he provoked it.