2018 was supposed to be the Year of the Dog, but it ended badly for many of these animals. On Jan 2, six dogs were believed to have been poisoned in Puchong, Selangor. On Jan 6, a resident at Taman Lavender made a police report about more dogs that had died in his housing area after consuming rice laced with rat poison.
A friend who lives near the Brickfields area also claims that several dogs were found dead there in mid-December. At the time, he said, he did not suspect anything wrong but now he is not so sure.
These deaths are not believed to be related, but many people are asking what prompted the poisoning of these dogs? What led the perpetrators to commit such an act?
Perhaps they were the neighbours of people who owned dogs, and were tired of the constant barking, especially at night. Anyone who lives next-door to a dog owner who does not keep his dogs and compound clean knows that the stench of faeces and urine can be overpowering.
A resident at Sungai Petani once complained that her terrace house was infested with ticks thanks to her neighbour’s dog. The neighbour would leave the dog to guard his empty house, often without water and sometimes even food. Complaints to the local veterinary department brought no results as the owner would deny that the dog was neglected.
Were these dogs poisoned because neighbours objected to the noise or smell, and were unable to persuade the owners to behave more responsibly? If so, they should have escalated their complaints to the authorities. In 2017, then-agriculture and agro-based industry minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek announced the Animal Welfare Act 2015 which states that people who are cruel to animals can be fined a maximum of RM100,000, imprisoned for three years or both.
There have been mixed reactions from the public on the dog killings. On the whole, people appear angry that dogs were killed in this manner, asking if Malaysia is becoming a nation lacking in compassion.
But others are fearful of even venturing outside their homes in case they come face to face with a stray dog. There have also been cases of dogs which were badly trained and which, having escaped the property confines, became hostile. On the other hand, some people may mistake an over-friendly dog for one that is about to attack.
There have been complaints about dog owners who refuse to clean up after their pets when they take them for walks along public lanes or in parks. In some Western countries, owners are heavily fined if they do not collect their dog’s poo and dispose of it in a suitable manner.
Others complain about those who like to display their wealth by owning pedigree dogs which are kept in tiny cages. This is cruel and inhumane, and could leave the caged dogs severely crippled, with disturbing behavioural traits.
Some people also think it is fashionable to give dogs or other animals as gifts at Christmas or birthdays. Many soon find that owning a pet is too heavy a responsibility as it is too bothersome or expensive. Veterinary fees and medicine for pets are not cheap. Furthermore, dogs need exercise. Some owners who grow tired of their dogs do not even take them to the pound but simply abandon them in a back lane.
In many cases, dogs are not neutered so they breed, leading to packs of strays which may terrorise the community.
There are many responsible dog owners but, as is the case in many other situations, there are also those who do not care.
Don’t blame the dogs. Blame the owners. No dog deserves to die a violent death. In many cases, dog owners are irresponsible and do not train their dogs or take proper care of them.
The authorities should launch an immediate investigation into the recent inhumane poisoning of these dogs.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.