Saturday, June 21, 2014

MPJBT and the Skudai strays

Fifteen individuals and four non-governmental organisations lodged reports at the Skudai police station on June 11, 2014, against MPJBT. NST PIX

On June 5 a video was uploaded on Facebook showing enforcement personnel from the Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) bludgeoning stray dogs to death with metal rods. Now this is not the first reported incident of cruelty against stray dogs by the local councils, and I fear it won't be the last.

Once the heat is off the council, in this case MPJBT, the "old ways" of dealing with the strays will surface once more until a new incident comes to light.

As such I felt that it would be best to document all the media reports on this particular case. The objective of this post is to serve as a reference point to all the articles and accompanying links on the "Bludgeoning of the Skudai strays".

June 8, 2014

Killing of dogs a 'mistake', council admits responsibility

JOHOR BARU: Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) president Sallehuddin Hassan described the bludgeoning of stray dogs to death with metal rods by enforcement officers as a “terrible mistake”.

A video clip of the staff inhumanely putting down the dogs at the back of a warehouse in Jalan Makmur, Skudai, has gone viral online.

Admitting that plainclothes en­­forcement of­­ficers were respon­­sible for the brutal slaying of the dogs, he said the council would take up the matter seriously.

“We will review the standard operating procedure to put stray dogs to sleep humanely,” he said.

“We will also look into the possibilities of outsourcing the job (catching of stray dogs) to professional dog catchers.”

People living near the MPJBT warehouse said they had heard the dogs howling in pain.

P. Devika, 36, said that she heard dogs barking and sometimes grow­ling as if they were fighting.

“I never thought that they were being inhumanely killed until I saw the video on Facebook,” she said.

G. Suhanthan, 28, who took the video, said he witnessed the incident last Thursday.

“I was shocked by the cruelty,” said the real estate agent.

“I could hear the dogs crying in pain and blood spilling all over the place,” he said.

“I took out my mobile phone and recorded the slayings which lasted for about 20 minutes.”

June 9, 2014

'Draw up guidelines on strays'

PETALING JAYA: Both the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry and state governments must together come up with the necessary guidelines for enforcement officers when rounding up stray animals.

“They must follow proper procedure and not inflict any cruelty on animals,” said Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor patron Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Condemning the alleged killing of stray dogs by Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) enforcement officers with metal rods, Lee said the incident must be investigated and those found guilty of the act should be brought to justice.

“It is barbaric and unacceptable. Although the council has admitted that it was a mistake, those responsible must be acted upon,” he said here yesterday.

Lee was commenting on a report of animal cruelty allegedly committed by MPJBT enforcement officers that was caught on video, which showed them inhumanely putting down the dogs at the back of a warehouse in Jalan Makmur, Skudai.

This latest incident involving animal cruelty, he added, was also a wake-up call for the Government to push for the Animal Welfare Bill.

“All this goes to show that the Bill must be introduced as early as possible before the end of the year. Make the necessary provisions in law to provide for animal welfare and stop all forms of cruelty.

“The Bill must make room for effective enforcement and severe penalty for those who violate the law,” he pointed out.

The existing Animals Act 1953, Lee said, was obsolete and no longer provided for deterrent sentence against those who committed cruelty against animals.

Under Section 44(1) of the Animals Act 1953, those convicted of cruelty to animals face up to a RM200 fine or six months’ jail or both.

In 2011, 24-year-old hawker Chow Xiao Wei was sentenced to RM200 in default of seven days’ jail for each count after she pleaded guilty to two charges of abusing kittens near a shop at Seri Kembangan.

“The sentence is only a minimum fine and that is just a slap on the wrist today,” said Lee.

MPJBT president Sallehuddin Hassan had recently admitted responsibility for the incident, describing it as a “terrible mistake”.

June 11, 2014

'Punish animal abusers in JB council' 

JOHOR BARU: Two councillors want disciplinary action to be taken against enforcement officers who bludgeoned stray dogs recently.

They also want a review of the procedures used to get rid of strays within the Central Johor Baru Municipal Council’s (MPJBT) jurisdiction.

Several councillors were shocked at the actions of the officers and said they would raise it with their council president.

Councillor Tan Tuan Peng said the actions of the enforcement staff tarnished the council’s image.
“We are a council with a 4-star rating. How can we condone such inhumane action by our enforcement staff?

“I hope action is taken on the officers,” he said in an interview.

Tan, who acknowledged that stray dogs were a problem, said there should be a more humane way to dispose of them, including using lethal injection.

He said it was time to reconsider a past proposal to neuter and release strays that had been rejected because of the high cost involved.

The Star had earlier reported on a video clip – showing enforcement staff inhumanely putting down stray dogs at the back of a warehouse in Jalan Makmur, Skudai – which had gone viral online.
Council president Sallehuddin Hassan admitted that the incident as a “terrible mistake” and said the council would take the matter seriously.

Third-term councillor S. Siva­sanmugam, who supported taking action against the officers, suggested a special committee be formed to tackle the matter.

Councillor Lim Soon Hai said that while he had been getting complaints about strays the past two months, he did not expect them to be culled in an inhumane way.

Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan said punitive action must be taken against animal abusers including the council, enforcement officers and the dog catchers.

“While there is outrage at the council’s barbarism, it is not surpri­sing given that most councils em­­ploy torturous means of dealing with strays including shooting, starving, bludgeoning and even drowning,” she said, describing the whole episode as “cold-blooded murder.”
June 11, 2014

Massacring strays is wrong on every level 

Malaysians must stand up and demand more humane methods be adopted to handle the issue of strays.

From: Anthony SB Thanasayan, President – PETPOSITIVE
The Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association is outraged over last week’s bludgeoning to death of stray dogs with metal rods by enforcement officers from the Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT).

Any loving and caring Malaysian cannot comprehend much less accept, that such a brutal and barbaric act is still being deployed on defenseless animals by and in our society.

What more when such a despicable evil act is sanctioned by a local municipality.

Although we welcome the fact that MPJBT quickly took responsibility for such cruelty, we feel terribly uneasy about the fact that it took an expose from an amateur’s camera to uncover this cruel practice that has obviously been going on away from the public eye for who knows how long.

MPJBT should leave no stone unturned in its investigation of the matter. Whoever is responsible, must be brought to book, even if he is a higher-ranking official.

Apart from the MPJBT, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) should also conduct a thorough investigation, as what happened to these canines is clearly an act of torture and extreme cruelty.

MPJBT must set up a pound for strays. Unwanted animals caught off the streets should be housed there for at least a week for owners of lost dogs and cats to claim them after paying fines for being irresponsible owners.

Sick dogs should be put down immediately and humanely and only by a qualified veterinarian or a vet-trained officer.

Dogs that are healthy should be given a chance to be re-homed at the pound before a decision is finally made to put it down.

Councils must start budgeting for a pound and euthanasia medication. Ideally all pounds should employ a veterinarian to look into these matters.

If they cannot start out immediately with one, they should work together with the DVS for standard operation procedures when it comes to managing stray animals.

Councils that are smart will set up regular meetings on stray management. It should include all the relevant departments within the council, the DVS and local animal welfare NGOs for ideas.

For a more holistic approach, all local councils should conduct campaigns on responsible pet ownership among pet owners. This should include seminars, awards for best dogs and owners, pet training and spaying programmes involving local veterinarians and the DVS to effectively reduce stray populations.

Two good local councils with this experience are the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the Klang Municipality (MPK).

If all these are not followed through, just finding the culprits and punishing them will only be a knee jerk reaction.

June 12, 2014

Reports lodged over killing of stray dogs 

FIFTEEN individuals and four non-governmental organisations lodged reports at Skudai police station yesterday against the Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) over its treatment of stray dogs here.

Malaysia Independent Animal Rescue (MIAR), Johor Baru Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Companion Animal Rescue Effort Society (Cares) and Petpositive were the four NGOs that lodged the police reports.

Among the individuals who lodged the report was G. Suhanthan, 28, who had on June 9 made the first police report after witnessing the incident of MPJBT officers bludgeoning seven strays to death with an iron rod.

Suhanthan had recorded the horrific event on video and uploaded it onto Facebook.

He claimed that so far no investigating officer had contacted him even though the video clip went viral on the Internet.

MIAR founder and president Puspa Rani, who was also at the police station, said MIAR has received numerous emails from animal lovers nationwide.

"As far as I know, about 30 police reports have been lodged over the video from animal lovers throughout the country.

"Which is why I am here today," she said after lodging the report at the Skudai police station.

Puspa also said it is a criminal offence under Section 428 and 429 of the Penal Code which states that an offence is committed if "a person commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless any animal of the value of five ringgit or upwards". The offence is punishable with an imprisonment of two years, or fine, or both.

"No dog catchers can kill a stray in any manner without a certified veterinarian.

"Even if the dog is put to sleep by lethal injection, only a veterinarian knows the lethal dosage," she said.

Puspa said that if she failed to get a satisfactory response from the council or relevant agency, she will be bringing the matter up to the complaints bureau in the Prime Minister's Department.

Puspa further said representatives from the Department of Veterinary Service (DVS), who were also at the police station, had told her that the MPJBT did not have a veterinarian.

"So how were the strays put to sleep in Johor over the years?" asked Puspa.

The DVS representatives, however, declined to comment on the matter. A call to the DVS office to get the comment of the department's director also proved fruitless.

MPJBT also could not be reached for comment.

MPJBT corporate and public relations department administrative officer Salwa Abd Rashid was quoted as saying that the council did not shoot nor clobber strays to death.

On Monday, MPJBT when contacted, had said that they would investigate the matter.

June 12, 2014

Ops to catch stray dogs put on hold 

JOHOR BARU: The operation to catch stray dogs will be put on hold amidst continuing public outcry over cruelty in the putting down of the animals.

A decision would be made at the next full council meeting on whether action would be taken against officers involved, said Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) president Sallehuddin Hassan.

The MPJBT came under fire after a video clip showing enforcement staff bludgeoning stray dogs at the back of a warehouse in Jalan Mak­mur, Skudai, went viral recently.

“People should understand that these are not stray cats but aggressive dogs. The public also found the dogs a nuisance in their neighbourhoods. The dogs were not killed in a public space.

“The council has the right to put such stray dogs to sleep. However, I do not deny the way it was done was indeed regrettable,” said Sallehuddin.

He added that he did not know how the dogs were killed until the video surfaced on June 5.

It is believed that the MPJBT department in charge of stray dogs had found it hard to obtain supplies for injections – which is usual­ly used to put down stray dogs.

Checks by The Star at the warehouse, where the brutal culling took place, showed no signs that it was still being conducted.

However, dogs could be heard barking within the premises while enforcement officers were seen entering the warehouse area.

Various non-governmental organisations and at least 10 people have lodged police reports over the incident.

“It is unacceptable that no firm action has been taken against the officials,” said Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue (MIAR) president T. Puspa Rani, who is also the representative of the group, during a press conference at the Johor Baru Central police headquarters here.

She added charges could be made under Sections 428 and 429 of the Penal Code for mischief against animals.

June 13, 2014

Act against the enforcement officers 

I REFER to the article, “Ops to catch stray dogs put on hold” (The Star, June 12).

It is only proper that the Johor Bahru Tengah Municipal Council (MPJBT) put a stop to catching strays pending a full review of the manner in which the strays are caught and the animals are put down.

The way the strays were bludgeoned to death at the back of a warehouse by enforcement personnel of the local authority concerned had resulted in a public outcry over the cruelty in the putting down of the animals.

The manner of killing the strays was barbaric and it is totally unacceptable.

I am not disputing the fact that the local authority has a responsibility to catch strays based on public complaints and that it has the right to put aggressive animals to sleep as a last resort.

What I am totally against is the cruel and inhumane manner exercised by the enforcement personnel concerned in putting down the animals.

I am not only directing my comment to MPJBT alone but all other local authorities over the matter concerning cruelty to animals.

I wish to suggest that before putting down any stray animal, the local authority concerned must consult the Veterinary Services Department in the respective state on the best course of action to be taken as it is the authority on the subject of animal welfare.

While the MPJBT president must be applauded for admitting that the inhumane killings of the strays was a mistake, what he should do is to take appropriate action against the enforcement officer concerned.

He must not get away scot-free after having committed an act of extreme cruelty against a living creature.

The person responsible for committing the act of cruelty against the animal should be charged under the Animal (Amendment) Act 2013 or under Sections 428 and 429 of the Penal Code for mischief against animals.

Kuala Lumpur

June 17, 2014

Council put down 1,181 stray dogs from January until May 

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) has put down a total of 1,181 dogs in the first five months of this year.
MPJBT president Sallehuddin Hassan said stray dogs causing a nuisance was one of the most common complaints received by the council.

“Up until May this year, we received a total of 313 complaints about stray dogs from people who said they posed a threat to their safety.

“In fact, we often get scolded by residents who question why we are not taking action, and if we are waiting for someone to be bitten before doing something,” he said.

The council has been under the spotlight following a video of its officials bludgeoning stray dogs to death at the back of a warehouse in Jalan Makmur, Skudai.

Sallehuddin said that there were also many instances where council officials were bitten or injured by the strays during their operations.

“It is a tough job that our enforcement team has volunteered to do, as catching dogs is not part of their official duties,” he said.

Sallehuddin said that in 2013, the council received 997 complaints on stray dogs and had put down 2,524.

“In 2012, we received 1,135 cases on stray dogs and put down 2,345 of them,” he said, adding that he was unsure of the method used to kill the dogs.

Sallehuddin said that the standard operating procedure used to capture and put the stray dogs to sleep would be reviewed and the job outsourced.

June 19, 2014

DVS Awaiting Police Findings On Alleged MPJBT Cruelty 


INVESTIGATIONS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERINARY SERVICES (DVS) of  alleged cruelty by a local council in Johor is now fully underway. 

This message was conveyed to PETPOSITIVE by an official from the DV just over an hour ago. 

No stone will be left uncovered, the representative assured us over the issue of brutal killings of strays said to have been committed by the enforcement staff of the Johor Baru municipality central council or MPJBT.

The matter was first highlighted on Facebook by the animal rescue group MIAR when someone had passed over an amateur video recording of the incident to the NGO. The footage went viral before PETPOSITIVE joined MIAR and three other animal NGOs to make a police report in Skudai, Johor against the local council. (See here for details: Police Opens File on Animal Cruelty Case by Johor Central Council 

PETPOSITIVE subsequently issued a strong press statement to the media urging the DVS to act on the allegation. 

DVS confirmed the following today: 

  • DVS has conducted an interview with the amateur photographer
  • DVS is fully aware that the video footage is now with the forensics department and will work closely with the police as they investigate the matter.
  • DVS is also looking into the matter of working with a strict Standard Operating Procedure with MPJBT in all future stray management programmes.    
On another note, the DVS rep said the new Animal Welfare Bill is making its way through Parliament without any glitches. 

If all goes well, it will be out by the end of this year, making it much easier for DVS to work with local councils on humane animal treatment.  

What MPJBT said in 2013
Feb 25, 2013

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) are hoping to lessen aggressive stray animals on the streets by working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to pick up and neuter dogs and cats.

MPJBT president Md Fuzi Ahmad Shahimi admitted that the stray dogs and cats problems has been ongoing for quite some time based on the number of complaints received from the public.

He hoped that there would be a positive impact after collaborating with Homeless and Orphan Pets Exist (Hope) Shelter to spay and neuter the strays and release them back to the streets.

“We have taken measures to curb the matter before this but they have proved to be ineffective including shooting the animals, which was ceased in 2010 after protest from animal lovers,” he said.

A volunteer from the shelter Shirley Lam, said on an average, a female dog gives birth up to 16 puppies a year while cats give birth to 12 kittens a year.

“Imagine the number of stray puppies and kittens that are born per year. So neutering before releasing them back to the streets can lessen the overpopulation of strays in those areas.

“Studies have also showed that neutered animals are less aggressive as they are usually more calm and will not go after people,” she said.

She added that the neutered animals would be marked by nipping the tip of their ear to show that they have been neutered.

Lam added that it costs between RM100 and RM250 to spay dogs and about RM20 cheaper to neuter cats.

Meanwhile, MPJBT councillor Jason Teoh said the measure was a more feasible measure compared to shooting or killing them.

“We received about 3,000 complaints from residents under the council’s jurisdiction in their housing areas and near schools since 2009,” he said, adding that areas with high population of strays are Skudai, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Taman Universiti.

He added that the council aimed to spay or neuter 500 stray dogs and 200 stray cats within its area this year.

Besides that, Teoh, who is also Gelang Patah MCA division chief, also said for a start, the party would sponsor the spaying of 100 stray cats and dogs.

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