Instead of throwing stones, Anthony Thanasayan says that animal rights groups should hold discussions with local councils to educate them on proper ways of handling stray dogs.
Anthony Thanasayan, the founder of Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association or Petpositive, said the activists need to reprioritise their mission by working hand-in hand with the local councils rather than simply “throwing stones” at them.
“Learn to see things from their perspective. Remember that a lot of dog catchers from the local councils never owned a dog before,” added the MBPJ councillor.
Last week, a video of Batu Pahat council workers forcefully putting a dog down was widely circulated on Facebook and YouTube, drawing angry responses.
Thanasayan said that animal rights groups should hold discussions with their respective local councils on a regular basis to educate them on proper ways of handling stray dogs.
“And I am not talking about having a one-off meeting. Meet them (local councils) on a regular basis and educate them on how to catch stray dogs in a humane way. But do they (animal rights groups) even allocate budget to conduct trainings for the dog-catchers?” he asked.
He then threw a challenge to the animals rights groups; conduct pet adoption programmes to provide homes to the animals caught by the local councils.
“Let local councils catch them and the activists conduct the pet adoption process. I am sure the local councils will be more than happy to assist them,” he said.
Thanasayan said that in many cases, the local councils were actually kinder towards the animals compared to animal activists and their owners themselves.
Thanasayan recalled an incident in 2009 when he accompanied some MBPJ dog-catchers and an officer from the Veterinary Department to catch a dog that was kept in a temple.
“The dog was very old and sickly. It was filled with ticks and puss was oozing out of it. Even I was apprehensive to be near it and I doubt the animal rights groups would have touched it as well.
“It was the dog-catchers that caught it and they did not even manhandle it. Instead, they were trying their best to coax the dog to come near them,” he said.
The sad part about the entire episode, he said, was that the temple authorities refused to acknowledge that the dog was theirs.
“But the dog kept running to them for protection. Everyone knows that animals will only do that with those they are familiar with. I have encountered many cases such as this. These people just want a cheap security guard by just feeding it. They should be banned from keeping pets,” he said.
Thanasayan explained that local councils catch stray animals for two reasons; one for being a pest and the other for disease control.
“Even stray cats are caught as well. The animals are seen as pests as they defecate everywhere and some attack people. In fact, there are cases of stray dogs attacking people’s pets,” he said.
As for MBPJ, the council sent all stray animals caught to PAWS, an animal shelter located in Ara Damansara as the council does not have its own pound.
According to Thanasayan, MBPJ pays RM20 per animal to the shelter operator. “And my council catches about 1,800 strays annually,” he added.*
While some animals lovers would like to see these animals roaming free, Thanasayan dismissed the notion as a “romantic idea”.
“As much as we respect the rights of animal lovers, we should also respect the rights of those who don’t like these animals. And feeding stray animals is not being kind to them, it’s only prolonging their misery. Who is going to take the strays to a vet when they get sick?” he said.