All it takes is a slice of humanity to care for stray animals

The truth is, animal abuse does not only hurt animals, but society as a whole

by LYDIA NATHAN/ pic credit: www.spcai.org

The team runs adoption drives every Sunday, with as many as 8 or 9 puppies finding homes each week

HUMANITY, kindness and compassion — the elements that seem to be lacking these days.

Cases of animal abuse in Malaysia have been making waves on the news and social media. So much so that it is almost impossible to not be presented by ghastly images of deceased or injured cats or dogs while one is browsing through Facebook.

Strays, in particular, have fallen victims to the cruelty of people time and time again, be it in rural or urban areas.

In recent days, news of an innocent stray being bludgeoned to death has made its rounds on social media, prompting netizens to call for justice.

The incident took place at Bercham Market, Ipoh. Witnesses said the dog — usually obedient and had never disturbed anyone — was attacked by a middle-aged man with a stick.

One witness recalled hearing the dog shrieked in pain repeatedly. Unfortunately, the dog succumbed to horrific injuries. A local feeder Kimberly Ong told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that she had been feeding the 10-year-old female dog, nicknamed Muk Zui, every day for the last three years.

“Muk had been at the market since she was a puppy. She was fed and bathed by the owner of the vegetable stall and was very much loved by all. We are heartbroken at what had happened,” she said in a telephone interview.

Ong said witnesses saw Muk grabbed the accused’s pants before he threatened to come back and kill it.

“He waited till the stalls were almost closed. After 1pm, he returned and chased her into an enclosed area before beating her to death. Witnesses were horrified. A small child who saw what happened was very frightened.

“We could have replaced his pants, and given him another 10 pieces, but to take a life and in such a cruel way is simply unimaginable,” Ong said.

According to Ong, Muk’s companion, another lovable stray had since stopped eating and would cower when anyone comes near, clearly traumatised from what she saw or heard happening to her friend on that fateful afternoon.

A Semenyih-based non-profit organisation (NGO), the Association for the Protection and Rescue of Animals, had since made a police report both in Ipoh, Perak, and Kajang, Selangor.

“The accused spotted us and threatened to beat the association’s founder Madam Hoo and the vegetable stall owner. We want justice to be served and for him to face the consequences for what he had done,” Ong said.

Another tragic story that has been in the headlines just this week is the shooting of stray dogs in Kota Kemuning, Selangor.

The dogs’ feeder, a 49-year-old housewife, found three of them dead on one street, while another man found the rest all bleeding both from the noses and ears.

The incident was greeted by outrage and dismay by Malaysians who could not fathom how the strays were treated and so easily disposed of.

Shah Alam district police chief Assistant Commissioner Baharudin Mat Taib said a report had been made and the police are on the case, urging the public to not speculate.

An official from the Department of Veterinary Services Malaysia (DVS) told TMR that evidence of the crime had been sent to University Putra Malaysia, followed by a decision by the deputy public prosecutor.

“We will see if this case falls under the torture act or the Animal Welfare Act 2015. If it’s the latter, the police will surrender the case to Selangor’s DVS for further action,” DVS said in a statement to TMR.

Now, who can forget the man in Penampang, Sabah, who chopped off the mouth of a stray that was simply looking for something to eat, just because he was drunk?

Named Noobu, the two-year-old canine is on the way to recovery today, but after much effort and love by its rescuers.

According to animal welfare groups involved, vets had suggested Noobu to be euthanised because of the intense pain and suffering it had already gone through.

However, animal lovers banded together across the country in a show of solidarity against abuse. They slowly and patiently nursed the poor dog back to health and showed it the love it deserves.

The more concerning issue now is what exactly could possess someone to behave in such a manner and hurt an innocent to such extent?

Voice For Paws VP Brevina Balasundran said strays are so vulnerable because they often become targets for people to hurt them since they belong to no one.

She said essentially strays never have enough food, water or shelter which makes them malnourished, fearful and prone to the spread of diseases.

“The life of a stray is horrible. You cannot even imagine what it is like to go hungry for days and then get hurt when you ask for food or water…Or to have no shelter in the sweltering heat and heavy rains,” she told TMR in an interview recently.

Brevina said children should be taught from an early age on how to treat animals — stray or not — with compassion and kindness.

“People may fear a stray dog, but that’s no reason to hurt it. It could be aggressive because it is in pain or has been hurt, so it feels the need to protect itself,” she said.

The truth is, animal abuse does not only hurt animals, but society as a whole.

“When a child witnesses a parent or an adult hurt an innocent animal, the child may repeat the cycle and this leads to more concerning issues in the future.

“If someone can cruelly hurt an innocent animal, there is no saying what the person can do to another human being,” she added.

Founder of Malaysian Dog Deserve Better Wani Muthiah told TMR that while abuse cases have not increased, the awareness and exposure towards these cases have increased.

“About 10 years ago, the brutality committed by the local councils would not receive the attention it is getting now. Today, social media plays a big role in highlighting these cases, which also reflects in the increased number of animal rescuers and feeders,” she said.

Wani said the only way strays can be helped and managed in the country is to implement the trap-neuter-release-manage method.

“This will ensure there is no increase in population. The NGOs can then go down to the ground and explain to people that once these dogs and cats pass on, the number would also decrease,” she said.

Wani added that local councils need to be transparent and disclose how much tax-payers’ money is used toward the catching of stray dogs specifically.

“People need to know so they can judge for themselves if the funds should be used for this cause or be used for something else, like the prevention of dengue or leptospirosis eradication.

“If I’m not wrong, dengue cases have gone up 70% in Selangor,” she said.

Wani said councils need to allow public entry into local pounds along with permission to take photographs to be shown to the world.

“People need to see what transpires when one complains to the councils and strays are removed. The notion that the animals are taken somewhere to be cared for is far from reality,” she said.

It is a widely-known fact that the local pounds are filthy and unkempt, while hundreds of dogs languish with no food or water, waiting to be euthanised.

Meanwhile, Brevina said another manner in which strays can be saved is for the public to stop buying puppies and kittens from pet shops, and start adopting instead.

Shelters and pounds are full of beautiful souls waiting for a chance to find a home

“Not many people care where a pet comes from. It may look cute and cuddly sitting inside a glass case at the shop.

“But look into the background, ask questions and find out the conditions of the mother and breeding facilities. It is cruel…Both females and males are treated like breeding machines and abused.

“Instead, look into adopting. Shelters and pounds are full of beautiful souls waiting for a chance to find a home. These animals will love you unconditionally because you have given them something they will always treasure,” Brevina said.

She added that the team runs adoption drives every Sunday, with as many as eight or nine puppies finding homes each week.

“The team may be called out to rescue strays or assist other rescuers. The first thing we do is take the animal to the vet to get it checked out, vaccinated and treated if needed.

“Then, we try and foster it at home so they integrate well with humans and other pets. Maybe it doesn’t mean much to a person, but to the animal, you would have changed their whole world. We receive so many happy stories and tales on how great these dogs and cats are, they become a part of the family,” Brevina said.