Horror of horrors
Here are some of the animal abuse cases which brought unwelcome attention from the international community.
SPCA Selangor senior resident vet Dr Lim Suit Fun shakes her head sadly as she recalls past animal abuse cases throughout her career.
Countless newborn or weeks-old puppies and kittens dumped in drains and parks, that had died in the cold of the night; stray dogs with rusty thin wires – embedded in infected wounds – hooped around their necks by dog catchers; a little Spitz that was a bundle of skin and bones with sand in its stomach.
“I have stopped thinking that a particular case is the worst as I know another is just around the corner. I have stopped being shocked at the cruelty human beings can inflict upon a helpless animal,” she says.
“A dog, no matter how badly it has been treated, would still wag its tail and look at us with trusting eyes.
“When I have to euthanise an animal that is suffering, it will quietly follow me into the operating room, wagging its tail. An assistant holds up its front legs and I’d quickly insert a needle into a muscle. It’s an overdose of anaesthesia, so it’s like flipping a switch and the dog just goes to sleep and never wakes up.”
Some cases of animal cruelty in Malaysia made headlines as far as America and Europe because they were so appalling. Below are some cases which brought the country into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons:
Horror pet hotel
Over 300 cats boarded at Petknode in Damansara Damai, Selangor, during the recent Hari Raya holidays were neglected, leading to the death of 13 cats. The pet owners returned to find that their cats were left to starve in their cages, and covered in their own waste. The case has yet to be prosecuted as the pet hotel owners have run away.
A 21-year-old woman was caught on video prodding three stray kittens with an umbrella and stomping them to death in a backlane. The video went viral and the woman was identified as Chow Xiao Wei, dubbed the Kitten Killer of Serdang, Selangor. Chow cited mental distress from family problems and apologised publicly after she was fined RM400.
In May, some 50 stray dogs in Bahau, Negri Sembilan, were shot on the streets by enforcement officers in an operation initiated by the Jempol district office, despite a clear directive from Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin to use only nets, tranquilisers, loops and strainers to catch strays.
Local councils have conducted countless culling exercises in other states. Many of the dogs died slow, painful deaths, as the workers are untrained.
Also in May, Batu Pahat Municipal Council workers were caught on video dragging a stray dog across the street and administering an injection on it. The dog was yelping in pain for more than five minutes before the second injection was given. (Two separate injections containing different drugs are usually given to euthanise a dog within seconds.)
Later in the same month, Central Johor Baru Municipal Council workers shot land- scape supervisor Tan Sek Khang’s unlicensed dog on the street as it followed him and his son to school. The dog ran back to Tan’s house but the workers chased after it and dragged it from the garden onto the street where they shot it a second time.
Sushi the poodle
On Jan 21, a video went viral on Facebook of a man using brute force on a toy poodle to force it to stand on its hind legs. The dog named Sushi was shaken and flung against the wall when it could not perform the trick. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) offered a RM6,000 reward for the identification and arrest of the man. He has yet to be found.
Pulau Ketam castaways
In late 2009, Pulau Ketam residents rounded up over 300 strays and dumped them on nearby uninhabited islands. Starving and dying of thirst, the dogs cannibalised the weakest ones to survive. Some swam to nearby kelongs only to be tossed back to sea by workers. The luckier ones were eventually rescued and re-homed.
Hell-holes at dog pounds
For years, dog pounds operated by local municipal councils such as the Selayang Municipal Council have come under fire for the mistreatment of animals rounded up by its workers. Photographs of carcasses tossed in garbage dumps, and groups of wet and miserable dogs huddling in tick-infested cells enraged many. Each time the issue surfaced, the authorities visited the pound and said they saw no negligence.
In March 2010, DVS deputy director-general Dr Ahmad Suhaimi Omar suggested at a forum on effective animal pound management organised by the Petaling Jaya City Council’s Canine Advisory Team, that those with a penchant for exotic meat should be allowed to buy dogs from pounds for consumption.
“Do we have to keep the dogs at the pounds forever? They are animals, just like chickens or goats,” he was reported as saying ( The Sun, March 7, 2010).
Engineer Douglas Lien San Chong moved to a new house in Subang Jaya, Selangor, in 2005, leaving his German Shepherd to guard his old property. When DVS officers seized Sheena, she had to be euthanised as she was suffering from malnutrition and severe tick fever. A post-mortem revealed an empty stomach and shrunken kidneys, indicating prolonged starvation.
Lien said in mitigation that he had been “too busy with personal matters and house moving” to look after the canine.
“The dog was already old and sickly anyway,” he said.
Magistrate Hafizah Abdul Rajak fined him RM100, which he paid promptly. – ChinMui Yoon