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It is people, not dogs that require a licence

July 11, 2014

Animal abuse is on the rise and it should be mandatory for pet owners to earn a licence to keep a dog (or cat) instead of the other way around.


dog_walk_300By Sasha Surandran

Today on my way to work past the leafy suburb of Bangsar, I saw a woman walking her dog. Nothing seemed wrong with the picture, at first. Her dog was on a leash. She walked it firmly in her fashionable sneakers and big hair. The pet seemed well-behaved. Until I saw the large rod that she held in her other hand.

As I drove past, I saw her smacking the dog with the rod several times as she walked it, using it quite frequently. She used the rod as a supplement to her instructions on the defenceless animal. And my heart went out to the poor creature.

I’ve seen this kind of behaviour from dog owners several times before. Hitting or kicking dogs in order to get them to follow instructions. I’ve even seen similar behaviour at veterinary clinics, as owners brought canes to make their dogs answer to simple instructions such as sitting or lying down.

This depressing state of affairs, coupled with the many cases of animal abuse by BOTH owners and the authorities that have appeared on media and digital platforms, as well as the sad faces of the dogs in pet shop windows, got me thinking.

Perhaps another viewpoint needs to be taken into account here. Instead of granting licenses to dogs, perhaps it’s us who need to get licenses to prove that we are and can be loving, kind and considerate dog owners.

Perhaps it’s us who need to get proper authorisation to prove that we can be pet shop owners or breeders with a conscience.

And it’s not a novel idea. A quick glance through the Internet reveals that several city councils and animal rights organisations have also put forward similar ideas.

Pre-licensing classes for potential dog owners spells out the responsibilities that a dog owner must be willing to undertake (happily) when they acquire a new household member.

According to New Animal Control on their website (newanimalcontrol.org), “.. through the pre-licensing classes, as a society, we can make it clear right upfront at the beginning of the process that those entrusted with caring for canines need to provide their dogs with a high quality of life in an environment that is well suited to raising an animal of any given size and disposition.

That means that license applicants will need to agree to provide their dogs-to-be with not only medical care and all the basic creature comforts, but also with a reasonable amount of exercise.”

Aside from being firm on dog owners, macro approaches need to be put in place.

Strict laws on animal rights must be drawn up and implemented to the letter. Pet shop owners should be carefully scrutinised before they are granted licenses to begin operations, and monitored regularly once they’ve set up shop.

After completing mandatory pre-licensing classes, potential owners must be interviewed and screened by responsible breeders or pet shop owners before the pet is sold to them, that will be with them for many years to come.

Authorities must be firm to clamp down on animal abuse, whether externally or from within their own agencies.

Members of the public must continue to make a stand for an animal that is being abused.

Most importantly, animal abusers must be brought to face the full brunt of the law, not get away with a puny fine.

Mandatory pre-licensing classes for potential dog owners and firm measures by other stakeholders support not just the welfare of the dogs, but ensures a more peaceful community for dog and non-dog owners alike.

Together, we can put a stop to animal abuse cases happening in our society and create a kind, loving and nurturing environment for humans and dogs alike.


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