Monday, March 1, 2010

Cruel treatment unacceptable

This photograph was taken by the SPCA team during their visit to the pound.

By Nuradzimmah Daim

SELAYANG: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA Selangor) is claiming that about a dozen dogs died last week because of gross mismanagement at the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) dog pound in Rawang.

The shocking revelation was published on the society's website and emailed to the media.

SPCA Selangor's public relations manager, Jacinta Johnson, said an animal rescuer had visited the pound in Taman Rawang Integrated on Feb 21, and reported that the dogs appeared not to have been given water.

"She brought back five emaciated puppies, one of which was dying. The SPCA veterinarians had to euthanise the puppies because of their severe condition. The bodies were sent for a post-mortem at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) the next day," she said.

Johnson said the SPCA then contacted the MPS director of health and licensing, Dr Razif Zainol Abidin, on Feb 22 with offers of dog food and help to improve conditions at the pound.

"However, Dr Razif declined the offers, saying that the MPS had food and did not need help with the pound."

She said SPCA inspectors and veterinarian also visited the pound but were denied entry.

"The caretaker refused to let them in as he did not want to get into any trouble with the management. After some coaxing, he allowed them in for a brief look around but warned them not to take any photos.

SPCA Selangor veterinarian Dr Karen Koh, who was one of the visitors, said they observed that the floor had been washed but there was no evidence that the kennels were regularly disinfected to prevent the spread of diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, and tick-fever.

They also saw four dogs in one kennel which looked ill and emaciated.

SPCA Selangor animal inspector Cunera Kimlon said since medical care for the dogs was beyond the means of the council, it should euthanise the severely injured and sick dogs instead of leaving them to suffer for days.

Johnson said there were approximately 20 dogs and puppies in the kennels and only half appeared to be in reasonable health.

She said the kennels and dogs were infested with ticks

"Volunteers from animal rescue groups Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better and AnimalCare had brought containers for food and water as well as bags of dog food earlier, and fed and watered the dogs."

Johnson said the SPCA team made a second visit last Wednesday morning and inspected the kennels and took photographs. The sickly dogs spotted two days ago were no longer around.

They found all the puppies placed together in one kennel, while the adults were housed two or three to a kennel. Food and water placed by animal rescuers were still there. Two dogs were found dead -- a brown mix-breed dog and a black Spitz-mix in a red collar.

SPCA Selangor chairman Christine Chin claimed that the society was invited for a meeting with MPS to discuss ways to improve the pound's conditions but the invitation was revoked after their visits to the pound.

Chin said SPCA Selangor was pressing for the closure of pounds that do not have proper and humane management, and condemned the ones that reject aid from animal welfare groups.

"This withholding of food, water, and medical attention causing unnecessary pain, suffering and death is tantamount to cruelty to animals. MPS officials managing the pound must be charged for cruelty to animals under Section 43 of The Animal Act 1953 (revised 2006).

"The Department of Veterinary Services must take strong action against the perpetrators as the offence is widespread.

"We are shocked at the conditions at the Selayang pound, and we are sending out a strong message that SPCA Selangor and Malaysians find the inhumane treatment of those dogs completely unacceptable," said Chin.

This is not the first time MPS has come under fire. In 2007, the council was criticised for organising a dog-catching competition, which was later cancelled.

Over the years, SPCA Selangor had also lobbied the department on its dog-catching activities and management of council pounds.

Chin said although the Department of Veterinary Services had issued the "Guidelines for Humane Stray Management for Local Councils" to all municipal councils last year, few improvements had been made.

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