Apr 20, 2005, 2:08 AM
i think we are both in agreement, we just have different ideas and approaches to trying to find a solution to the same problem.
I have watched Animal Precinct and yes, they do good work. In the UK, the RSPCA and the police work together to do exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, it is not possible here in Malaysia the way the law stands as well as from the mentality of Malaysians. The SPCA in Malaysia is only an animal welfare association. In fact, it is actually a series of associations with co-operation between the various SPCAs in Malaysia (Selangor, Ipoh, Johor, Penang, Malacca and maybe a few other SPCAs I can't think of at the moment) but it is not one entity. I am most familiar with SPCA Selangor so I cannot speak for the policies or authority of the other SPCAs. When I refer to SPCA here, I mean SPCA Selangor. The SPCA has no right of arrest, seizure or prosecution. Even if they see a dog being battered right in front of them, they cannot forcibly enter someone's premises and seize the dog and arrest the owner. Only the Police have this right and even then, usually the Police don't bother. Even if they bother and arrest the person for animal cruelty, the matter still has to be investigated and the police then recommend the next course of action - to release the person or to prosecute. The case is then forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who may decide not to proceed (for whatever reason). This whole time, the SPCA can only recommend the prosecution of the person. The SPCA has to tread carefully throughout in case they jeopardise future cruelty cases. Everytime a cruelty case is not recommended for prosecution by the Police or the DPP doesn't push forward with a prosecution or the judge imposes a lenient sentance, the lack of enforcement erodes the position of the SPCA and diminishes the seriousness of animal cruelty in public perception. It is a downhill slide for everyone.
The law in Malaysia concerning animal cruelty has remained unchanged since 1953. The penalties are a paltry RM200 fine and/ or some jail time - not sure the exact amount at this time. There have been calls for the law to be amended with higher penalties for those found guilty. The law hasn't been amended yet even though there has been talk of it. It has been slow-going but fortunately, the courts have taken the issue far more seriously now and imposing jail time on top of the mandtory fine. Many people think a fine is no big deal, just pay it and go back to their mean lives. Jail time takes the penalty to a different level of public perception. It makes the crime far more serious in the eyes of the public if jail time is imposed.
Concerning your point about educating the public about animal welfare, education is a slow process. There are too many homeless dogs around, too many dogs treated unkindly (let alone cruelly), the list goes on. The only way for the authorities to "handle" it is to impose lots of rules and regulations. I wish we could rely on dog owners to restrict the number of dogs they own or to ensure that all dogs have homes, good living conditions and loving owners but the fact is it if all dog owners were so inclined, these rules and regulations would not necessary. Until enough dog owners can see the importance of responsible dog ownership, council rules and regulations are the only thing that prevents the situation from getting totally out of control.
What I do feel is that there should be more standardisation of rules and regulations with consultation with animal welfare groups as to the reasonableness of them. Imagine if a household has 5 dogs but the council says they can only have 2. What happens to the other 3? Put them to sleep? Send them to the SPCA or other animal shelter? Let them run lose in the street to be someone else's problem? The list of possibilities goes on.... Which is why any rulings and regulations should be discussed with animal welfare groups before they are finalised as council regulations.
In the meantime, the only real course of action we can take as animal lovers is to support the work of the various animal welfare groups (as individuals we have little influence on those in the position of authority) and try to be a positive influence on others about being responsible dog owners and the need to treat all animals with respect, no matter the persons' race, religion or superstition. The education has to start somewhere.
I'm not sure if my opinion is even worth 2sen but if it gives even one person something to think about in respect to animal welfare, then I won't have wasted my time typing this.
"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated" Mahatma Ghandi.