The recent sharp increase in the dumping of pet animals such as cats and dogs following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) begs the question of whether a stiffer punishment is needed. Certainly, more vigorous enforcement is also required.
According to the Malaysian Animal Association, the numbers of pet dumping have tripled since the MCO was initiated on March 18.
Community feeders have spotted newly abandoned animals at several remote locations, with irresponsible owners taking advantage of the MCO to discard their pets without being spotted.
Whether these individuals were disposing their pets due to their inability to feed them or out of fear because of misinformation that their pets could help spread the virus, the act itself should not be tolerated.
Should the local councils implement stricter regulations and punishment on such irresponsible owners? The resulting problems from stray dogs are manifold.
For example, a rabid dog could easily infect a pack, and this will endanger members of the public, including children. With last year’s outbreak of rabies among stray dogs still fresh in mind, this is a very serious problem.
Another issue is the local authorities having to spend more funds in dealing with the abandoned animals.
In addition, properties in areas where abandoned animals are rampant tend to see lower values, especially when a rabid dog’s attack has resulted in death.
While there has no report on errant owners dumping cats, it is possible this was also happening. Cats, unlike dogs, become feral when released and can cause untold destruction to wildlife.
Thus far, pet owners who failed to provide proper lodging, healthcare and diet to their pets, can be charged under the Animal Welfare Act 2015.
Under Section 29 (1) (p) of the Act, errant owners can be fined not less than RM20,000 and not more than RM100,000 or imprisonment of up to three years, upon conviction.
But this has not deterred the recent increase in pet dumping. Perhaps, it is time to start implanting chips in pets so they can be traced back to their owners.
This way, owners will have to take better responsibility for their pets.