Pet reg­is­tra­tion fee will come back to BITE us


The Nation - - OPINION -

The only thing not dis­putable in the whole an­i­mal reg­is­tra­tion is­sue is the cost. It’s ex­pen­sive for a lot of pet own­ers or those who have opened their homes to aban­doned cats and dogs. The pros and cons of li­cens­ing have been hotly de­bated, but one thing that is un­de­ni­able is that the ma­jor­ity of the “masters” are poor and not ready to pay the es­ti­mated Bt450 to reg­is­ter each an­i­mal un­der their care.

“It’s a mys­tery why so many peo­ple are against the law,” a govern­ment of­fi­cial said on Fri­day. He pro­ceeded to en­dorse the pos­i­tives of reg­is­tra­tion, say­ing it would pro­mote pet own­ers’ re­spon­si­bil­ity and help pre­vent out­breaks of dis­ease among an­i­mals. If he had read com­ments on so­cial me­dia, he would have known why many are against the new re­quire­ments. The pub­lic out­cry has cen­tred on the high pos­si­bil­ity of an­i­mals who had been res­cued from the streets get­ting kicked right back out again. The new law, which has not yet come into ef­fect and now faces a re­view, would force own­ers to pay for reg­is­tra­tion, ID books and la­belling, cost­ing about Bt450 per an­i­mal. Vi­o­la­tors would face heavy fines of up to Bt25,000. This means a kind-hearted per­son who has shel­tered 10 cats and dogs would have to pay about Bt4,500.

The cost is high for many peo­ple. This has prompted con­cern that pets that are “less loved” could be aban­doned and some may face even more cruel fates. The big ques­tion still unan­swered in the whole con­tro­versy is what hap­pens to un­reg­is­tered an­i­mals that don’t find their way into the shel­ters of­fered by tem­ples or foun­da­tions.

Pro­po­nents of reg­is­tra­tion say the lack of le­gal con­trols has re­sulted in ir­re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour and a lack of proper care. Pets have been starved and many are al­lowed to roam the streets where they are eas­ily in­jured or killed. The new law would make peo­ple think well and hard be­fore adopt­ing a pet, they say.

Op­po­nents in­sist that for reg­is­tra­tion to work as in­tended, mea­sures should be in­tro­duced in phases, par­tic­u­larly the ones re­quir­ing fees. Al­len­com­pass­ing en­force­ment may back­fire against an­i­mals that the pro­po­nents claim the new law seeks to pro­tect, they say.

The op­po­nents in­sist that Thai­land’s unique cir­cum­stances, such as the cul­ture of “pet adop­tion” whereby street an­i­mals are fed and cared for by lo­cal res­i­dents, should be taken into ac­count. Pet reg­is­tra­tion mea­sures can­not mir­ror those of more ad­vanced so­ci­eties, they say. Most of all, there are far more street an­i­mals in Thai­land than in many other coun­tries, and the rea­sons why reg­is­tra­tion is needed are dif­fer­ent.

There are other ways to deal with each prob­lem caused by “im­pul­sive” adop­tion of an­i­mals from the streets, the op­po­nents ar­gue. They in­clude free large-scale vac­ci­na­tion cam­paigns. Reg­is­tra­tion, mean­while, could be done in phases, with the govern­ment sub­si­dis­ing the ex­pense to sup­port poor own­ers. For ex­am­ple, cit­i­zens on low in­come could be of­fered a govern­ment sub­sidy if they adopt a lot of pets.

Statis­tics fea­ture promi­nently in the de­bate, with both pro­po­nents and op­po­nents mak­ing full use of them. A ra­bies scare this year prompted of­fi­cials to hur­riedly round up thou­sands of street dogs, many of which then died. An av­er­age of eight peo­ple a year die from ra­bies in Thai­land.

These are the bare facts about cats and dogs in Thai­land, which the au­thor­i­ties must con­sider care­fully be­fore tak­ing ac­tion.

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