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Malaysia, a living hell for dogs and their owners

MALAYSIA — Malaysia is a living hell for dogs, its dogcatchers are notorious for the cruel methods they use when catching strays and pets.

Videos of cruelties of dogcatchers frequently appear on social media, which are normally shot by dog owners and the public abhorred by dogcatchers’ repulsive methods.

Last Saturday (8 June), a video of another municipal dogcatchers’ cruelty was shared on Facebook.

The incident reportedly took place in a village in Malaysia. When the dogcatchers forcibly dragged the dogs away from the owners in a dog net, a woman became hysterical and began screaming at the dogcatchers.

A man in the video was seen cursing the dogcatchers as the dogs trapped in nets were growling while trying to break free from the dog net.

In the video, a dogcatcher can be seen grinning when the woman was trying to protect the dogs.

In many instances, dogcatchers proved that they are a nuisance to the community than strays.

On 25 May, an 85-year-old man died at Taman Saga in Bentong, Pahang, while trying to prevent municipal council officers from catching his dog.

According to Sin Chew, Huang Yunhong tried to negotiate with two dogcatchers from the Bentong municipal council after they caught his pet dog which he had raised for many years.

The Chinese language news outlet quoted one of Huang’s neighbours, known as Ah Xing, as saying one of the officers tried to take the dog away.

This prompted Huang to hold onto the catch pole to prevent the officer from leaving.

Ah Xing said during the struggle, Huang suddenly collapsed and fell into a drain.

“I tried to help him but, unfortunately, he died a few minutes later,” said Ah Xing.

He said the officers immediately called for an ambulance, and the medical personnel later confirmed that Huang had died.

Later, Bentong police chief Superintendent Zaiham Mohd Kahar had classified Huang’s case as sudden death in a statement.

Bentong Hospital conducted the post-mortem and the cause of death was said to be “respiratory arrest secondary to acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

Zaiham advised the public not to speculate on the matter or make any unnecessary or racial comments online.

On 26 May, Bentong Member of Parliament (MP) Young Syefura Othman issued a statement after she visited Huang’s family, to urge authorities to draw up clear guidelines when it comes to dogcatching operations.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) enforcement officers allegedly roughing up an old man who was trying to protect his dogs from being captured on Thursday (23 Mar).

One of the videos shows a group of uniformed council officers carrying dog-catching iron rods while confronting the elderly man, who was attempting to safeguard his dogs from being taken away.

Bounties on dogs

Animal welfare activists claimed that there are bounties on the number of dogs captured, prompting dogcatchers to act indiscriminately to hit targets.

On 7 May 2021, an animal legal rights group took the Cameron Highlands District Council (MDCH) to court over its plan to offer RM40 for each stray dog caught there.

The lawsuit came after the district council had invited anyone “who wanted to make money during the Movement Control Order” to catch stray dogs and hand the animals over to them for a reward of RM40 per animal.

The council later cancelled the dog catching campaign via a Facebook post and also reminded pet owners to apply for a dog licence from MDCH, urging them to also not let their dogs roam free in public areas.

Lawyers Rajesh Nagarajan and Sachpreetraj Singh said such a campaign is considered illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2015 for it potentially puts animals at risk of cruelty.

Local councils play blame game

An officer from Klang Municipal Council (MPK) mentioned the dogcatchers were just third-party contractors.

The MPK officer, who asked for anonymity, told The Online Citizen Asia that dogs caught by the council are left to dead on a small island near Port Klang.

Separately, a representative of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) reportedly said that the stray dog problem was not under the department’s jurisdiction and that the issue comes directly under the local councils, for example, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ).

It said DBKL’s role was to assist them to catch these dogs solely.

On 11 April, a video of a Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) enforcement officers involved in a violent exchange with a man who was filming the dog-catching operation.

In the video, an enforcement officer can be seen taunting a man and telling the man that it was the MBPJ’s job to catch all these dogs.

“It is none of your business. Are those your dogs? If it is yours you tell us so,” the enforcement officer can be heard saying while climbing over a railing and getting very close to the man.

In March, a video of a 69-year-old man in an altercation with dogcatchers from MBPJ went viral.

According to media reports, the man, Patrick Khoo, had tried to protect a pack of stray dogs from local council officers by letting them into his premises.

Khoo was eventually charged with obstructing public servants from discharging their duties.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge which carries a maximum sentence of a two-year jail term or a maximum fine of RM10,000 (US$2,200).

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