PENANG has about 25,000 to 30,000 stray dogs but it will not be cruel to them.
State Housing, Local Government, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo gave this assurance when he launched the Centre for Control of Abandoned and Stray Dogs at Jalan Sungai in George Town today.
He said the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the International Aid for the Protection & Welfare of Animals (IAPWA) have been collaborating in a programme to trap, neuter and release (TNR) the strays since March last year.
“We’ve seen the rise of stray dogs in the state but the state government practices no cruelty to animals. This is our underlying policy. We hope that with the TNR programme, we can reduce the number of strays,” Jagdeep said during the launch of the centre.
He said Penang island could have between 10,000 and 15,000 stray dogs while Seberang Perai may have 20,000.
So far, from March last year to April this year, Jagdeep said over 1,200 stray dogs had been caught and 637 of them were already neutered. The centre can house 60 dogs at one time and has eight multipurpose cabins.
Jagdeep also thanked IAPWA for assisting in the programme as well as congratulated it for winning the Charity of the Year 2015 at the Ceva Animal Welfare Award and the British Citizen Award of International Achievement 2015.
“IAPWA is UK-registered and has won several international awards. It has carried out programmes in other countries like Tanzania and India. It is hoped that it will achieve its objective of a Zero Stray Programme in Penang,” he added.
The shooting of a stray dog recently by a city council from another state caused animal welfare groups to hold a demonstration.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2015, local councils are prohibited from shooting dogs and can be fined up to RM100,000.
Anyone who beats, kicks, tortures and neglects or abandons any animal can be charged for animal cruelty. If convicted, abusers can face a fine between RM20,000 and RM100,000 and a jail sentence of not more than three years.
“As far as Penang is concerned, there is an SOP (standard operating procedure) and we advocate no cruelty to animals,” Jagdeep said.
Among those present at the launch were Jelutong MP R.S.N. Rayer, Sungai Pinang assemblyman Lim Siew Khim, MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang, IAPWA Penang manager Choong Koon Yean, MBPP Environmental Health and Licensing director Dr Judy Shoba and MBPP councillor Connie Tan.
According to Dr Judy, MBPP, which has 10 dog catchers, now uses a net to catch the strays instead of a lasso.
“When we used a lasso to catch the stray dogs, some people saw it as cruel when the animals struggled. So, we are now using a net,” she said, adding that they neuter 30 dogs per week at the centre in Jalan Sungai.
Yew said MBPP had initially planned to set up the centre in Relau but abandoned it as it was estimated to cost RM3 million.
“We spent less than RM170,000 on this project at Jalan Sungai. We welcome animal lovers to adopt these animals,” Yew said.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alvie Cheng