Kill strays? It can save people’s lives, says animal activist

Petpositive president Anthony Thanasayan welcomes the government’s proposal for a ‘zero stray dog’ policy in rabies-infected areas unless NGOs are willing to help out. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: An animal activist agrees with the government‘s proposal to put stray dogs to sleep, saying it will ensure the wellbeing of the public and other dogs as well.

Anthony Thanasayan, president of Petpositive (Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association), said it is alright to put the strays to sleep if no one is taking care of them.

Commenting on the Health Ministry’s proposal for a “zero stray dog” policy in rabies-infected areas, he said it will help prevent people from being bitten by rabid dogs.

“It will also help prevent dogs being kept as pets from being infected.

“Sixteen people have been infected in Sarawak. Do we want the same thing to happen again?” he told FMT.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye had suggested that NGOs take responsibility for sheltering strays, failing which the dogs should be put to sleep.

However, he said the implementation of such a policy does not mean that the ministry encourages the killing of stray dogs, as there are procedures to be followed.

“We want to make sure that the owners take care of their dogs and do not let them roam around. If no one is taking care of the dogs, there must be an NGO to adopt them, failing which the dogs will be put to sleep.”

Anthony Thanasayan.

Thanasayan said stray dogs in a rabies-infected area should be put down because the government would have no time to check them one by one.

“In countries like India, Thailand and Indonesia, cases involving rabies are uncontrollable. Malaysia needs to be pro-active and this is one of the ways,” he said.

He criticised PAWS Animal Welfare Society for saying that it was unfair to push the responsibility of sheltering dogs to NGOs.

The society previously told FMT that NGOs do not have enough funds to shelter strays on such a big scale.

Its manager Edward Lim said neutering on a large scale is a better alternative than killing dogs.

Thanasayan said that instead of calling it merciless killing, culling strays would be the kindest thing that people could do to the animals.

“If we don’t put them to sleep, then who is going to take care of them out there?” he asked.

He said NGOs should be supportive in this matter and cooperate with the government.

“The government has carried out its responsibility. The NGOs must do their part,” he said.