Animal associations call for proactive approach to address stray dog overpopulation

13 May 2024 09:30am
Image for illustrative purposes only. - 123RF
Image for illustrative purposes only. - 123RF

SHAH ALAM – Animal associations have stressed the importance of proactive measures in addressing the issue of stray dog overpopulation, rather than resorting to methods that harm the animals.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) advocated for a multifaceted approach that prioritised the welfare of both humans and animals.

Recently, it was reported that a woman was attacked by a group of stray dogs in Bandar Baru Bangi which caused her to fall and fractured her left wrist.

This was not the only case as there have been several other cases of stray dogs chasing people especially children.

Some of the incidents which went viral on social media sparked various reactions from netizens including calls to catch and euthanise stray dogs as a solution to the issue.

However, Selangor SPCA emphasised a more humane and sustainable approach.

"Euthanasia should only be considered as the last resort and in cases where it is deemed necessary for the welfare of the animal and public safety.

"Instead, we encourage the implementation of proactive strategies aimed at managing stray populations in a compassionate and effective manner," it said.

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As an animal welfare non-governmental organisation (NGO), Selangor SPCA emphasised the importance of addressing the root causes of stray dog overpopulation to prevent similar unwanted incidents from occurring in the future.

This, it said included increasing awareness and education campaigns on responsible pet ownership.

It also suggested for the local authorities to enforce existing animal welfare laws and regulations.

Besides that, it said progammes such as Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) should be implemented as a humane method in managing stray dog population.

These programmes, it said have been shown to effectively reduce stray populations over time while minimising harm to the animals.

In TNR programmes, cats and dogs would be humanely trapped using live traps and then taken to a veterinarian to undergo spaying or neutering, preventing them from reproducing.

Once they have recovered, the animals would be released back into their outdoor habitats.

"Stray dogs pose a potential threat to the safety of residents and to address this issue, we advocate for a multifaceted approach that prioritises the welfare of both humans and animals," they added.

Selangor SPCA emphasised the importance of collaboration between residents, local communities and animal welfare organisations in addressing the issue of stray dogs.

It highlighted that residents could actively contribute by reporting stray dog sightings to relevant authorities, engaging in community-led initiatives like neighbourhood watch programmes and endorsing efforts to encourage responsible pet ownership through adoption, sterilisation and vaccination programmes.

"We remain committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders to address the issue of stray dogs in Bandar Baru Bangi and beyond.

"By prioritising humane and evidence-based solutions, we believe that we can create safer and more compassionate communities for both humans and animals," it said.

It said it has also been conducting a subsidised mass neutering programme called Potong Royong, now in its second year, which has benefited thousands of animals in the communities of Sri Nanding (March 2023), Bandar Botanik (August 2023), Subang and Kota Kemuning (March 2024), along with several smaller initiatives across the state.

It said additional initiatives were in the planning stages for this year, in collaboration with Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ), Sepang Municipal Council (MPSepang), Shah Alam City Council's (MBSA) and MPK.

Meanwhile, Penang SPCA noted that while netizens were swift to comment on incidents where people were attacked by stray dogs, they may hesitate to offer assistance themselves

It suggested that those who advocated for euthanasia should also be involved in adopting strays before resorting to catch and kill measures.

It emphasised that each local council has its own bylaws on stray dogs and should act accordingly to the law.

With the current focus on stray animals and to accommodate the concerns of social feeders, animal lovers and NGOs with a no-kill policy, they proposed that authorities collaborate with these groups to handle strays that were captured.

"Local councils should have strict enforcement and educate the public on responsible pet ownership.

"As the council is in charge of licencing, they should look into introducing different tiers of licencing for instance increase the annual licence fees for dogs (many folds) if they are not neutered.

"Limit the number of dogs to be kept in each household. Provide incentives for pet owners who have neutered their dogs," it said when contacted.

Penang SPCA recommended addressing the issue of overpopulation through neutering campaigns, offering free licensing or licenses at a minimal annual fee.

It stressed the importance of providing funds to support neutering initiatives for strays, ensuring that they did not contribute to further overpopulation.

It highlighted that they did not enforce a "no-kill" policy and as a shelter, they strived to rehome animals whenever possible.

In cases where female animals were adopted at a young age, it said the organisation would collect a deposit for spaying from the owner.

It said when the animal reached the appropriate age for neutering, they would remind the owners to arrange for the procedure and the deposit would be refunded accordingly.

"This is to make sure that the animal adopted does not produce more. If too many animals have babies, it could cause problems in society," it added.

However, it stressed that animals that remained at the shelter for an extended period without finding a home may be euthanised, as there was a constant need to make space for incoming younger animals.