KUCHING: The latest case of animal cruelty here have animal lovers baying for justice as a puppy taken from Sarawak Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) was returned with clear signs of neglect and suffering from distemper.
SSPCA photos showed a healthy black and white puppy, already suffering from paralysis on her hind legs when it was first abandoned at the shelter in mid-November. Recent photos showed a dirty and starved creature that was returned to the shelter on Sunday, nearly unrecognisable as the same dog that was adopted.
The puppy was euthanised on Monday.
Shelter Manager Richard Lim said he didn’t even realise it was the same dog when he first saw it.
“The immediate reaction when you see a puppy lying down like that is to hydrate it. When they get too weak to eat or drink, it gets dehydrated,” he said, adding that he began to suspect the truth when he picked her up and found her back legs not working.
The puppy, believed to be a pet, was originally left at the shelter by a man who claimed that it was a stray which went into his house. Lim said that most people forgot that the shelter handled a few thousand animals in a year and could tell a stray from a pet.
According to shelter staff, the woman who took the black and white female puppy home in November admitted to bringing her to the veterinarian. After getting a confirmation that the pup was infected with distemper, the woman took her back to the shelter because she didn’t want her children coming in contact with it.
Horrified members of the SSPCA Facebook Page called for the negligent owner to be penalised and blacklisted from keeping any more pets.
This is not an isolated case. Last Thursday, a brown paralysed puppy was surreptitiously abandoned at the shelter with a note explaining that his name was Jack and that he could no longer walk.
Lim said that a responsible animal lover would not have done such a thing.
In an article highlighting another animal abuse case published Dec 1, SSPCA president Dona Drury Wee said that society had no authority to seize abused pets or arrest their owners.
Only the police and the Department of Veterinary Services had the authority to act according to the law, she said.
Sarawak Agriculture Department Veterinary Division enforcement officer Dr Nicholas Jenek said that to date, nobody in Sarawak had yet to be charged for animal abuse cases.
“However, should SSPCA or the public come upon animal abuse cases, they can write to us so that the Veterinary Division can take action,” he said.
He said that the government had set up a Talikhidmat for the public to report matters including abuse cases such as this one.
“The public can call our office at 082-628255/250/249/248 or fax their complaints to 082-628122.”
Dr Nicholas added they were planning to give briefings on the issue of animal abuse early next year, with a speaker from Peninsular Malaysia.
Under the Laws of Sarawak, Chapter 32 of the Veterinary Public Health (VPH) Ordinance 1999 (Section 73) under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, those found guilty of cruelty to animals can be fined not exceeding RM2,000 or be jailed for not more than six months, or both.