KTM is examined after it was handed over to MDDB. — Pictures courtesy of MDDB
Canine group to sue KTMB over stick-in-a-dog
By Boo Su-Lyn
By Boo Su-Lyn
KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Tying up a stray dog with a stick shoved down in throat could see national rail operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) in a court house soon.Canine welfare group, Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB), is pursuing legal action against KTMB for allegedly torturing the dog, ironically named KTM for the place where it was found.
“We’ll file a civil suit,” MDDB coordinator M. Mala told The Malaysian Insider.
“Once we file, it’ll be a precedent.”
The KTM dog incident first garnered public attention through a complaint letter titled “Ghastly animal abuse at Kepong KTM Station,” written by M. Nisha to Malaysiakini on March 17 this year, where the writer explained how she and a group of commuters had found the dog in a tortured condition two days earlier.
KTMB had issued a statement in response, admitting that their staff had caught the stray dog and tied it to a fence. However, KTMB denied intentionally shoving a piece of wood down the dog’s throat, stating that the dog bit on the wood and refused to let go of it after KTMB staff tried to use the wood as bait.
KTMB further explained that the reason they caught the stray dog was because it had bitten passengers before, though none resulted in serious injuries.But concerned commuters alerted the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) which immediately went to the station but failed to find the dog as it had been released.
However, the SPCA team managed to locate the brown patchy dog at the Selayang dog pound about a week later, upon which they handed it to MDDB.
“Our lawyers are looking at how members of the public can be plaintiffs,” said Mala.
Currently, the lawyers are in the process of drafting an affidavit. The civil suit is expected to be filed in a couple of months, Mala added.
“We have animal activists coming up offering to be plaintiffs,” she said.
When asked on the amount of damages MDDB is seeking from KTMB, Mala said that they are not seeking for damages.
“We don’t want their money,” said Mala point-blank.
Instead, Mala said that they want KTMB to contribute to any animal welfare group, though not necessarily MDDB.
In terms of contribution, KTMB could contribute to things like infrastructure, she added.MDDB is a canine welfare initiative spearheaded by the NGO Community Development and Integration Initiative (CDII).
They have rescued and placed hundreds of puppies in homes since 2008, according to Mala.The dog, KTM, is now residing at a veterinary services clinic, she said, and the MDDB is currently looking to adopt him or foster him.
Reactions from other animal groups towards the alleged KTM dog abuse have been varied.
“We have all the laws. Unfortunately, authorities don’t use it,” SPCA chairman Christine Chin told The Malaysian Insider.
Malaysian laws on animal cruelty are considered weak compared to similar laws in other countries. Section 44 of the Animal Act 1953 (2006 Amendment) punishes animal cruelty offenders with a RM200 fine or six months imprisonment.
In contrast, Singapore imposes a RM23,000 fine or one year imprisonment. Hong Kong animal cruelty offenders are fined RM90,400 or three years imprisonment. Thailand’s fines for animal cruelty range from RM100 to RM10,000.
Although animal lovers had petitioned the government in 2007 to increase the fine from RM200 to RM10,000, and to increase the jail term from six months to two years after the horrific abuse of a German Shepherd named Sheena came to light, nothing was changed.
“Where there is no enforcement, abuse continues,” Chin said.
However, Petpositive president, Anthony Thanasayan, said that animal groups should not demonise KTMB as there was no proof that KTMB had abused the dog.
“(The abuse) could have happened, but I find it unlikely that KTM would do such a thing,” said Anthony.
Petpositive is an NGO dedicated to providing animal-assisted therapy for the disabled and elderly.
“NGOs must be responsible in their accusations, not go around on a witch hunt to call KTM monsters,” Anthony added.
“No one was there. No one could prove anything.”Anthony, who is also the chairman of Canine Advisory Teams of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the Klang Municipal Council, added that animal groups need to work together in their lobby for animal rights.