Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Killer Pit Bull eh?

Every once in a while, something will occur to turn the minds of Malaysians away from the "Sandiwara" of the Malaysian political scene.

Usually only a grisly crime would do the trick. Especially if the blood spilled was that of a beauty or even a slightly attractive woman. People love to hear of beautiful women who die tragically. We still speak of Mahsuri and the white blood that gushed out of her don't we?

This time however, the drama was played out in a different setting. The victim is a 74-year-old man, the setting a quiet suburban neighbourhood in Subang Jaya, the murderer.....? Now this is where it gets interesting.

The one who brought Yip Sun Wah down by literally going for his jugular was a dog, whose breed many Malaysians are still scratching their heads about, even the Veterinary Services Department. Pit Bull? Bull Terrier? American Staffordshire.......? A cross among one of these breeds? For the purpose of this posting, I shall refer to this dog as - the Pit Bull.

American Pit Bull

If Yip had met his end by any other criminal means, he would never have captured our imagination the way he did. Less than an hour after the news broke, it spread like wildfire. Ambiga and her Bersih gang had no choice but to take a backseat that day. Even good ol' Najib must have had a breather, it's not been all peachy for him for sometime now.

The nation had a new villain. A small-ish, snowy white, pointy eared canine whom we first knew as - the Pit Bull. The Star was the first to start the ball rolling - It's headlines and photo captions read: "Killer Dog", "Dangerous Animal", the other papers were quick to follow suit for want of an imagination or lack of creativity.

Soon photos of the Pit Bull was splashed across news portals and pages with these menacing descriptions. But at the same time, people started to ask questions, what made a house dog of all things, Pit Bull or whatever breed, turn on a random jogger.

The mystery deepened when it surfaced (thanks to some intelligent reporters who bothered to ask the right questions to the right people) that according to neighbours, the dog who has been out of the compound on its own had never bothered anyone or shown signs of aggression.

A further puzzle is that the dog never turned on the man and woman who tried to get it away from Yip by hitting it with an umbrella and stick. The moment the victim stopped moving, it ran back into the compound.

When personnel from the Veterinary Services department came to take the dog away, boy were they surprised! They went there fully expecting an aggressive and violent animal. What they saw stunned them.

The Pit Bull soon to gain infamy, was quiet and docile, frightened actually, according to some people at the scene. Like it knew it had done something wrong. I was actually shown a photo of the dog taken after the incident, while it was still covered in blood. It looked scared, confused, and lost. 

Newspaper reports of the incident, perpetuated the mystery by only stating that the dog was not known to be aggressive. As such people were left asking why..........??

A missing piece of the puzzle was not reported. Deliberate? Because it would cause offence to the victim's family........??

According to neighbours, Yip frequently passed by the house on his routine morning jogs, and he was known to have yelled at the dog on many occasions. Why would he scold someone's dog? It probably barked each time he passed by. Just like it would have done to others who passed the house.

Normal dog behaviour not? It was terribly unfortunate that on that day, the latch to the garbage chute was not locked, and tragedy ensued.

Dogs do not attack unless they are threatened, provoked, or in fear of its safety or that of its master. I did not look at the non-English dailies, but none of the mainstream English papers mentioned about the provocation.

They should have, not to put the victim in a bad light. But it would have been a great education to the very many people out there who are so very ignorant of the basics of animal behaviour.

You don't have to be a canine expert to know that dogs will turn violent when threatened or provoked. But many people seem to think it is okay to taunt an animal as long as it is in a cage or behind a locked gate.

But look at what happened to Yip. It's very tragic that he had to go that way. And the owner and her family should have done a better job in keeping their dog away from strangers. There are many dog owners who let their pets roam freely in the neighbourhood thinking that their dogs are tame.

Let this be a lesson to them too, to be more responsible. Whether tame or no, their pets should only be taken out of the compound on a leash. It makes people uncomfortable to have dogs running around the neighbourhood unsupervised.

This has never been a country for dogs, and on the whole there's a huge lack of understanding and acceptance of canines in our society. This whole incident is a stark reminder of that. But ignorant people only see one side of the coin - An innocent old man was mauled by a killer dog.

There's this general assumption that any dog who attacks must be put to sleep. But even a person accused of murder is given a fair trial no?

Should we not first determine what caused the animal to behave in that way. Or is the life of a non-human creature worth so little, that such an evaluation is not required at all. It is a shame when any animal for that matter, is put to sleep for the error of a human being.

If it is justifiable to put an animal to sleep because of the negligence of their master, maybe we should put juveniles to sleep too, citing negligent parents. My what a great way to clean up society no ?

Oh but human life is so.......precious right? Cannot just be cast away like that. Cause God created man and what not, but God also created Man's best friend and all the other non-human creatures that inhabit this vast earth.

Back to the Pit Bull incident, to date the dog is still under observation, and there's no decision yet on whether the owner will be prosecuted. To what extent the owner should be held accountable is a muddle and a puddle for the powers that be to decide.

But if that dog is put to sleep, and the reason given is safety in the neighbourhood, or public pressure, my next blog post is going to be on how to keep your dogs safe from people - stupid people who will provoke your pet and shorten its life.