Time to up the ante against animal abuse


ON May 14, the photo of a month-old puppy with its two hind legs, tail and a front leg chopped off went viral on social media in Malaysia. The photo was posted by Malaysia Independent Animal Rescue (MIAR) and garnered responses that ranged from rage to shock among Malaysians.

Cases of animal abuse or cruelty towards animals are not rare in the country. Thanks to social media, numerous cases of animal abuse were brought to our attention over the past few years.

The year 2013 in particular was known for animal abuse. It began with news outlets, both print and digital, featuring a heart-wrenching photo of a baby elephant forlornly caressing the carcass of its mother in one of Sabah’s forest reserves.

It was found that 14 pygmy elephants had been deliberately poisoned. A month after that, a Malayan sun bear and Arabian stallion were also found to be deliberately poisoned at the Melaka Zoo by a disgruntled former zoo owner. He was caught on CCTV feeding the animals in the zoo with poisoned laced fruits simply because he resented the fact that a zoo he had previously owned had been shut down.

A true lover of animals would never hurt their animals, no matter how dire the situation. This fellow was definitely in the zoo business for the money, and not because he gave a hoot about the animals.

Later the same year, two fellows from Johor decided that it would be funny to post a photo of them posing with a kitten they had put into a sealed jar. Both brainless twits later apologised, saying that they were just having some fun and admitted that it wasn’t in good taste. Apologies were not accepted and they continued to be condemned by animal rights activists and animal lovers.

Last year, we had the infamous arrows in the dog case. A dog, affectionately named Brianna by animal activists, was shot with two arrows by a man outside his house. He claimed that the dog was a menace, when in actual fact, the dog was sick, near-blind and could hardly see where it was going.

Some years back, the Eye wrote about a friend’s account of trying to go after a dog, which had its tail freshly chopped off, as it desperately ran off into the dark.

The dog had run out yelping and crying from a construction area near a coffee shop in Kuching where this friend was having his meal.

Why are cases of animal abuse so prevalent in Malaysia? It seems that the police are uninterested in dealing with animal abuse cases, many of which are left to animal rights NGOs and animal shelters to handle.

To say that we do not have laws in place would be wrong. In 2012, the federal government amended the Animal Act 1953 to revise the penalties to a maximum RM50,000 fine and jail term of up to one year for cases of animal abuse.

But how often is action actually taken and the perpetrators brought to court and charged? The guy who shot the arrows into Brianna? He got off, claiming that he had shot the arrows into the dog because he was ‘protecting his children’ and had not known the dog was sick.

As Eye was writing this piece, a news article was published by The Telegraph in which a commercial airline pilot in Northamptonshire in the UK was convicted in court for stealing his neighbour’s dog, drowning it and dumping it in a row of hedges, just because the dog would not stop barking. He then lied to his neighbours that he had not seen the dog, as they frantically searched for it.

Needless to say, the pilot probably had trouble getting his much-needed sleep. Because he actually took the life of the living thing that probably disrupted his rest, it was considered serious enough for the matter to be brought to court.

In delivering the sentence, the magistrate announced that a great deal of time had been taken to consider the case which revolved around a great deal of emotion. Nevertheless, he had taken the law into his own and was sentenced to 12 weeks’ in prison and ordered to pay 2,400 pounds (around RM13,400) in costs and an additional 80 pounds (RM450) victim surcharge.

This shows the commitment the United Kingdom has towards bringing those who take the life of another living creature, be it human or animal, to justice.

It is time for Malaysia to also seriously enforce its Animal Act and actually take action against those who bring pain and suffering to animals. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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