GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today instructed its two local councils to be kinder to stray animals as it embarked on a humane drive to neuter dogs and cats to reduce their population in the long run.
State executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo said dog catchers in the local councils had been told to do away with their wire lasso traps and instead use the more humane net-type traps.
He said this was in line with an advisory given by the 67th National Local Government Meeting to come up with standard operating procedures when dealing with stray and abandoned animals.
Jagdeep also commented on the recent shoot-on-sight method used by the Ipoh City Council (MBI) in neutralising a stray dog.
The incident, which was caught on camera and spread on social media recently, caused a public uproar among dog lovers.
He said the Penang government would amend municipal laws which gave arbitrary powers to council workers to catch stray dogs using any means possible.
“I have read about this dog shooting case and it is deplorable.
“This should not happen in Penang. We want to aim for zero strays and yet, at the same time, zero cruelty, too,” he said.
Jagdeep said this after he was asked about Ipoh City Council’s argument that it had followed council by-laws which allowed them to use any means possible to capture stray dogs.
Earlier, Jagdeep opened the Penang Island City Council’s (MBPP) new Stray and Abandoned Dog Control Centre on Jalan Sungai, Sungai Pinang, here, built at a cost of RM169,395.
Jagdeep said the primary function of the centre was to implement the trap-neuter-release (TNR) method, where female stray dogs are neutered and re-released into their habitat.
It has 60 kennels and eight multipurpose rooms. He said MBPP had enlisted the expertise of the local branch of the International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals (Iapwa).
He said the TNR method, in force by the MBPP since March 1 last year, has seen 637 dogs neutered as of April 30 this year.
“We are the first local government in the peninsula to carry out the TNR actively in controlling the stray population. This is a good example to other local governments to emulate,” he said.
Jagdeep said in the meantime, he urged all pet owners to license their dogs to prevent them from being captured by council workers.
Jagdeep also urged dog lovers to adopt rescued strays from the state’s dog pounds on the island and in Seberang Perai as there are plenty of canines ready for adoption.
He said currently, the stray dog population hovers between 12,000 and 15,000 on Penang Island, while there are 20,000 in Seberang Perai.
According to MBPP, a total of 1,200 strays had been caught in Penang Island to date this year, through a team of 10 dog catchers.
A total of 1,300 dogs on the island are licensed. Neutered dogs can be identified through tattooed identification numbers on their right ear and an ear notch on the left ear.