Pet reg­is­tra­tion bill to be rethought after pub­lic fury and wor­ries over fall­out

The Nation - - FRONT PAGE - KORNRAWEE PANYASUPPAKUN

A BILL ap­proved by the Cab­i­net mak­ing it manda­tory to reg­is­ter dogs and cats was de­railed yes­ter­day after pet lovers cried foul over the high fee for the reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ment, and threat­ened to aban­don their pets.

The bill, which got the Cab­i­net nod on Wed­nes­day, al­lows mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to charge a max­i­mum fee of Bt450 – Bt50 for reg­is­tra­tion, Bt100 for a book of iden­tity and Bt300 for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tools such as mi­crochips.

It sets the max­i­mum fine for vi­o­la­tion at Bt25,000. How­ever, the bill does not spec­ify where the money will go or how it would be spent to im­prove an­i­mal wel­fare.

“We don’t ob­ject if the gov­ern­ment charges reg­is­tra­tion fees, but the amount must be ap­pro­pri­ate and the agency must ex­plain how the in­come is spent,” wrote the Watch­dog Thai­land page.

“Per­son­ally, I think it [the reg­is­tra­tion bill] doesn’t tackle the prob­lems, but makes them worse. Who will want to adopt stray cats and dog?” wrote the ad­min of Moh Maew Yak Bok Tard Maew Face­book Page (What a cat doc­tor wants to tell cat lovers).

The pricey fees will dis­cour­age own­ers from adopt­ing pets and may even en­cour­age some to aban­don their dogs and cats on the street or in the care of tem­ples to avoid pay­ing the fees, ac­cord­ing to com­ments in so­cial me­dia in re­sponse to the bill.

Bill to be re­con­sid­ered

“If the bill was passed into the law, more dogs would be aban­doned, un­cared for, starve and spay­ing or neu­ter­ing is harder. The dogs will also be at greater risk of ra­bies, said Dr Thi­ra­vat Hemachudha, a ra­bies ex­pert and pro­fes­sor at Chu­la­longkorn Univer­sity’s Fac­ulty of Medicine.

In­stead of charg­ing high fees from peo­ple who help take care of un­wanted dogs and cats out of kind­ness, the gov­ern­ment should ask for their co­op­er­a­tion to get the an­i­mals spayed and neutered as well as vac­ci­nated for ra­bies, he said.

Fol­low­ing the pub­lic out­cry, the Cab­i­net will re­con­sider the bill.

At its core, the bill in­tends to reg­u­late fam­ily pets and re­duce the num­ber of strays, but the Cab­i­net promised not to make reg­is­tra­tion a bur­den for peo­ple.

Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha was wor­ried that if the reg­is­tra­tion move led to peo­ple aban­don­ing their pets, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the City Hall, or the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry would not be able to take care of these un­wanted pets,” Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wis­sanu Krea-ngam said yes­ter­day.

The Live­stock De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment agreed to take the bill back for re­view­ing, as it might create too much bur­den for the peo­ple, direc­tor-gen­eral So­rawit Thaneto said yes­ter­day.

The bill, in fact, aims to pre­vent pet own­ers from aban­don­ing their pets and to pro­vide wel­fare for the un­wanted ones. With such a law, fam­i­lies would be re­quired by law to pro­vided good care for their pets, and thus re­duce the num­ber of stray dogs and cats, he ex­plained.

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