Monday, June 06, 2016

Street life a living nightmare for strays

06/06/2016 12:36 PM
Street life a living nightmare for strays
BERITA DAILY LETTER: From MyAnimalJustice, via e-mail

I refer to the letter, 'Teach animal welfare in schools' by Vanitha Loganathan in The Star which was published on June 3.

Whilst I fully agree and support the writer that animal welfare awareness should be taught in schools, it looks to me like she could do with some education herself, particularly where stray dog issues are concerned.

While the writer is right that children should be taught to be kind to strays and never to provoke them, it is wrong to see them or give the impression that kids are the chief cause why stray dogs attack.

In fact, it is children and other vulnerable groups like the elderly, disabled and women, who are the victims of stray dogs and need protection when dog attacks occur.

It is not fair to blame any of them or the public at large as a safe environment is the right of all Malaysians.

It is important to remember that all dogs - whether stray or not - are intrinsically territorial.

They will not hesitate to attack anyone that they perceive in their "canine minds" to be a threat, either to them or the area in which they are "protecting."

The threat becomes even more dangerous when dogs are in a pack and during their mating season.

Children, because of their small sizes, fidgety behaviour and curious nature become vulnerable in such situations. They may be viewed by canines as "another animal" in dog attacks.

All one needs is to contact the respective local councils to find out how many dog bites from strays occur each month, and how many of them belong to vulnerable groups. You may find out that it happens in the hundreds.

In fact, in overseas countries like the UK for instance, the incident of dog bites on children has become so serious a problem that kids as young as five are being now taught how to avoid and possibly even survive dog attacks.

This should be taught in our schools too.

As for the idea of "community dogs" or "free roaming" dogs, it will never work in Malaysia or in any other country in the world.

A good example is in India. Despite a "community dog" concept pioneered in the 1960s to try and reduce strays, the dog population today equals that of human beings in Malaysia - 30 million.

One such place is the state of Kerala where there have been scores of complaints of stray dogs attacking people where once again the elderly and children are the most affected.

India is also affected with rabies where it is said that one third of all human deaths in India is because of the dreaded disease.

Kudos to our authorities in our three northern states (including Penang) for taking swift action not long ago in averting the problem from spreading further when rabies posed a serious threat for us again.

Malaysia's street-life for dogs is no utopia for them and human beings. It is instead not only against our local bylaws, it is a hell hole of torture and a perfect opportunity for diseases to spread among the strays.

Dogcatchers, despite the dislike of some animal lovers for them, are lifesavers of the strays.

They rescue these hapless creatures from a life of starvation, roadkill, poisoning by residents who hate them, and injuries sustained by fighting with other strays - unlike the romantic idea of street life by the writer as being some sort of a "Garden of Eden" for unwanted dogs.

And why shouldn't a school or any other places have a right to remove a stray in order to create a save place for its children? And which authority is more appropriate other than the local council which has been tasked with such a job?

What kind of message are we teaching our children and society with such an advice?

The way forward is for all our local councils to network with each other to come up with the best strategy in humane stray management.

Animal welfare NGOS should jump in and join in the initiative which must result in effective education on responsible pet ownership and humane ways in the catching of strays.

(An excellent example, which I personally witnessed in action) of this is by the Klang municipality (MPK).

They recently got an award for its invention of a special net gun which gently shoots a net over stray animals to trap them. It allows for the animal to also calm down and relax first, before it is transported safely into the dogcatcher's vehicle.

Strays caught by the council should be opened up for adoption whilst those that don't make it should be humanely put down by a veterinarian or a veterinary officer.

Death is not cruel, only suffering is.

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