The hatred shown by ‘dog lovers’

I was shocked with utter disbelief to read how some so-called “animal activist NGOs” attacked a health awareness poster put out by the Ministry of Health.

The public online educational piece, shared widely over the Internet, offered excellent tips on how the public can protect themselves, among others, against contracting zoonotic viruses and diseases from animals – including the deadly Covid-19 threat.

Instead of commending the government for their quick-thinking and most timely move, several extremist groups unfortunately chose to take issues with MOH for using an image of a dog under the animals section, accusing the authorities of creating “fear” and “hatred” for dogs among the general public.

These bigoted NGOs and individuals with their half baked views (and manipulative private agendas) not only claimed that dogs and cats are “immune” to Covid-19, but also went on to audaciously and quite ludicrously accuse MOH of “creating false news” about the virus.

They also went further to create an online petition to demand the dog’s picture be removed at once from the poster. I thought this was utterly shameful of them.

I viewed the poster as well but didn’t see any of such nonsense.

The MOH awareness piece is brilliant. It offers some easy-to-understand and helpful guidelines on how to protect ourselves from possibly getting infected through an animal source.

To do this, they came up with a novel idea of using the image of a friendly and appealing Beagle breed of canine to represent all animals.

This was rather cleverly done. The Beagle instilled a calm (not panicky) mood in everyone in delivering MOH’s important health message.

Without mentioning the word “dog” at all, it went on to advise the need to practise basic hygiene and cleaning methods when coming into contact with animals.

These include activities and situations like visiting a farm, slaughter house, wet market with live animals to directly interacting with companion pets.

This is, and has always been, a good practice for anyone, whether there is a threat of Covid-19 or not.

As to whether dogs and cats can be infected and spread Covid-19 as a result, there is easily available information at your fingertips online on this or from your local veterinary or health care expert.

The World Health Organization, for example, stresses the point that there has been no scientific evidence to date that dogs or cats have been affected.

However, at the same time experts also can’t guarantee it cannot happen either, more so at this present moment when critical details are still unknown about Covid-19, with top epidemiologists and virologists scrambling to find a cure and produce an effective vaccine for it.

There was absolutely nothing nefarious at all about the MOH poster to remotely even suggest that they had intentions at targeting dogs in order to start a witch hunt against them.

Other than using a picture of a dog to represent all animals, it was interesting to note that the MOH poster never mentioned the word “dog” at all.

Why are these animal groups raising their heckles against the MOH at all?

Just last week, our police force presented a top honour to a German Shepherd named “Lao Wu”, for its invaluable contribution to our nation.

If Malaysia were such a “dog hating” nation as some of these people claim, I would like to know how many of our neighbouring countries have honoured a police dog like we have, noting that last week was not the first time?

It is so very sad how some people are so overwhelmed by their prejudice over the government so much so they are unable to see the great and tireless work done daily by our authorities to do everything they can to stop a most dreaded virus from turning into a very nasty one in our society.

Anthony Thanasayan is president, Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (PetPositive).

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.