Be responsible for your own animals, pet owners told

Dr Chou (right) speaking to reporters as Wee (left) looks on.

KUCHING, Feb 5: As Chinese New Year is just around the corner, pet owners planning to ‘balik kampung’ are advised to keep their pets at home and arrange for good neighbours or thoughtful friends to care for their pets when they are away.

Sarawak Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) president Datin Dona Wee said with the ongoing situation of rabies infections in the state currently, pet owners must be responsible for their own pets, and understand the consequences of owning pets which includes caring and providing shelter and food for them.

As positive rabies samples are on the rise in and around the city as of late, while Chinese New Year approaches, irresponsible pet owners might feel discouraged to continue keeping their pets and would be tempted to abandon them.

“When you get your pets in the first place, you should understand and know your responsibility. In the wake of rabies spreading in Kuching and under the recently endorsed anti-rabies vaccination order, the councils have the right to remove and dispose off any uncollared strays and uncollared free-roaming dogs in the streets,” Wee told a press conference here earlier today.

She advised pet owners to be responsible and not contribute to the spread of rabies in the city.

Another alternative, if pet owners really cannot find people to care for their pets when they are away, would be to admit their pets into vet clinics for a certain fee.

This however isn’t encouraged as pets would be huddled together and have the risk of having infectious diseases from sick pets, said Wee.

At the same time, she also advised pet owners to go to the Department of Veterinary Services’ (DVS) free vaccination campaigns which would be held on weekends to get their pets vaccinated.

Once vaccinated, Wee said, pets needed to be kept inside the compound of their owners’ homes and quarantined away from free-roaming animals, adding that it would take at least a month for the vaccine to incubate in their pets.

When asked about certain parties regularly feeding strays, Wee said SSPCA has advised them to avoid feeding them near eateries.

“Imposing conditions under Section 145 of the Local Authority Ordinance 1996, the Local Government and Housing Ministry has the right to revoke the business licences of eateries found to be feeding strays, even if it wasn’t the proprietors’ doings. This is because of hygiene issues.

“Therefore, I advise those organisations and dedicated feeders to feed the strays away from eateries. Also, make sure to clean up the mess after feeding,” she said, adding that SSPCA has reached out to some of these organisations to educate their members on the proper manner of feeding and taking care of strays.

From left: SSPCA president Datin Dona Wee, SVA committee member Dr Daniel Tan​, SVA committee member Dr Kelvin Chai, SVA honorary secretary Dr Patricia Kong, SVA president Dr Chou Hock Tieng, and SSPCA chairwoman Rebecca D’Cruz pose for a photo-call while holding posters for the Fun Run and awareness campaign.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Veterinary Association (SVA) president Dr Chou Hock Tieng advised irresponsible activists to not take away any strays anyhow to other locations as this could actually spread rabies even further.

“Some of these activists think that what they are doing are saving these dogs, but in actual fact they are spreading the disease even further,” he said.

Dr Chou also advised pet owners to go to any DVS free vaccination programmes which would be held every weekend.

This weekend on Saturday, Feb 10, DVS will be holding a free vaccination programme at Dewan Persatuan Masyarakat Kawasan Penempatan Semula Stampin, Kuching at Lorong 17A, Stutong Baru; and at SUPP Tupong Multipurpose Hall from 9am to 2pm.

Dr Chou said if pet owners really cannot make it, they can go to their prefered veterinary clinic but it would not be free.

“The DVS however will subsidise RM25 of the total cost,” he added.

In order to enhance public awareness of responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, food safety, and rabies, the SVA is organising a series of awareness programmes including a road show and fun runs on April 28, July 28 and Sept 29 respectively. — DayakDaily