Friday, July 07, 2006

Mkini: 'Doggycide': Bar Council's bureau ready to bite

'Doggycide': Bar Council's bureau ready to bite

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Jul 7, 06 2:03pm

The Bar Council's legal aid bureau is prepared to take on the Seremban municipal council (MPS) for the killing of 13 dogs in a house recently.

Lawyer N Surendran said the violence with which MPS officers carried out their tasks - including having allegedly broken into Eng Her Sun’s house to shoot the terrified canines - was ‘totally illegal’.

This contravened provisions of the Animal Ordinance Act 1953 against prohibiting unnecessary pain or suffering to animals, he added.

"All the individuals (who committed or abetted in the incident) should be charged for the offence," he told a press conference held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday with the six-member Coalition Against Dog Shooting and Other Inhumane Methods (Casim).

Casim and other animal welfare groups have been up in arms over the incident last Friday in which MPS enforcement officers had allegedly sawed their way into Eng's house in Taman Desa Rasah before shooting 13 of the 26 stray dogs that he had adopted and given shelter.

Court order

MPS president Abdul Halim Abdul Latif was reported to have said his officers were acting on a court order following complaints from neighbors of the foul stench and disturbance caused by the dogs.

Abdul Halim also claimed Eng, 57 and his dogs had turned aggressive, an allegation that Surendran dismissed.

"That is a total lie.. Some of the dogs were found having squeezed between two cupboards, others were shot while hiding under a mattress," he said.

"The only ones acting aggressive that day were the council officers," he added.

Surendren also said he could only assume that they had gone into Eng’s house on the pretext of a local government by-law pertaining to the control of dogs.

“They said they were acting on a court order following a notice issued six months earlier, but they never showed Eng that court order,” he said.

Surendran's statements were met by murmurs of agreement from the crowd of animal lovers and animal welfare groups that had gathered in the compound of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), a member of Casim.

'Animal terrorism'

"I have only one word to describe MPS' actions that day: Terrorism! It was an act of pure animal terrorism!" cried one dog-owner to a resounding applause.

Eng, who was also present at the press conference, accused MPS of high-handedness and excessive violence.

"I'm not the one who is mental. MPS officers are the mental ones!" he said

A veterinarian from Seremban was also present to confirm that Eng (right) had properly cared for his dogs by ensuring their cleanliness, vaccination, spaying, and sterilisation.

Surendran also questioned the legality of MPS officers, who were accompanied by four Veterinary Services Department officials and two police officers, having discharged their firearms in a house within a residential area.

On this point, Casim member Malaysian Association for Responsible Pet Ownership's (Marpo) pro-tem president Dr Jon S Satyamoorthy said the Animal Ordinance Act providing for local officials to ‘put down’ on sight dogs was in the context of a by-gone problem.

The law pertains to the problem many decades ago of rabid dogs which had to be shot immediately when identified because of the dangers that they posed to the public, he noted.

"But this problem is no more relevant in 2006 as rabies has since been wiped out," he said.

Humane methods

Casim, meanwhile, called for an immediate ban to shooting and other inhumane methods used in dog-catching, including the use of wires and nylon ropes whereby dogs are almost strangled to death while suffering from the deep cuts inflicted on their necks and bodies.

"The whole shooting massacre, which looked like a bloody crime scene, was a horrendous, cruel and violent act and the Seremban municipal council should have never taken this merciless route," said SPCA chairperson Christine Chin.

Dog catchers should be trained to use humane methods, like nets and tranquillisers while the only acceptable and humane method of putting dogs to sleep is the administration of lethal injection by a veterinarian or other qualified person authorised by the former, she added.

"In times of resistance, a mediator should be sought to diffuse the situation in a humane, effective and considerate manner. SPCA and the other participants of this coalition can assist in this area," she pointed out.

For the long-term, Chin said local municipalities should adopt more a effective and humane mindset and attitude to solve the problem of dog and cat over-population.

Among the concrete steps that can be taken is the establishment of 'humane shelters and pounds' where animals can be kept and re-homed, she suggested.

"This gives the residents a chance to bring in strays and abandoned animals instead of taking them into their own homes and thus creating neighborhood problems," she said.

Chin also urged the establishment of high volume, low-cost neutering clinics where dogs and cats are spayed at reduced rates.

She also called for local governments to emulate the pro-active measures taken by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)in cooperating with the SPCA to establish the Kembiri Clinic, which has over the past three years successfully prevented 2.7 million dog and cat births in the city.

"The coalition is willing to embark on a working committee together with a number of municipalities to provide a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise in solving this man-made problem," she said.

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