By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Sept 13: The Sarawak government recognised the need to look into issues related to stray animals in order to build a healthy and beautiful Kuching City.
Speaking at the Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) ground breaking ceremony for the long-awaited Animal Village today, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg gave his full support for the building of a shelter facility, particularly for stray dogs.
“SSPCA approached me 10 years ago and we were concern about cleanliness issue in the city. SSPCA president Datin Donna Dury-Wee and her team expressed their views for an Animal Village and how we can transform the city,” he shared.
“At that time, I was looking after Housing and Urban Development, then later Tourism, so of course we felt that stray animals roaming around may affect our reputation as a green city,” he said.
He remarked that while pets have owners to look after them, strays do not and in addition, this modern shelter facility can be a platform to assist the state government in collecting data of stray population in the city.
“The data will be useful especially when something arises in the future, then we will know what to do,” he added referring to the rabies outbreak as an example.
He noted that the state government has managed to vaccinate about 68 per cent of strays and pet animals throughout the state and The vaccination exercise is still ongoing.
“Under the United Nations (UN) requirement, we must have 70 per cent of all the animals vaccinated. Sarawak have achieved 62 per cent, meaning we are almost there in reaching the target,” he revealed.
Meanwhile, SSPCA required RM5 million to build the 10,000 square feet Animal Village on a two-acre land.
Thanking the state government for the piece of land which was given to the Society for free, Wee emphasised that SSPCA is now on the brink of another milestone, to build the Animal Village.
“It has taken us almost a decade to get this piece of land and now we will work hard to bite the bullet and dig in to build this state-of-art facility,” she said.
“We will be reaching out and we hope individuals and corporations can assist with annual sponsorship grants to support the work that we are doing, to help make Sarawak rabies free again, and to make it a stray free state with responsible owners through awareness programmes,” she added.
Construction of the Animal Village is expected to kick off in four or six months time, and Wee hopes it can be ready by 2021.
SSPCA would require a steady income to maintain their current and future operations, Wee pointed out that they need to rethink their approaches in fundraising as well as to study how other shelters sustained their premises.
The Animal Village will have some boarding facilities for dogs and cats, a cafe and a pet grooming centre, all of which SSPCA hope will be able to help with the finances.
In the current shelter, there are about 500 animals, which is neither conducive nor at the best situation, because it is overcrowded.
Wee informed that ideally, the current shelter can accommodate about 180 animals, but since the rabies outbreak, there was a spike in dumping of dogs and cats at the shelter.
“People sometimes feel they have the ‘right’ to dump their animals on SSPCA because they tell us ‘that is your job’. It is not our job, it is your job to be a responsible pet owner,” he reminded.
“Here we hope for a new beginning, to bring up the standards of animal welfare in Sarawak by teaching responsible pet ownership. We hope to start a robust neutering campaign and also more people will be encouraged to adopt new pet from us,” she added.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian,Kuching South Municipal Council (MBKS) mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng, Kota Samarahan Municipal Council (KSMC) chairman Datuk Peter Minos and Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri were present.— DayakDaily