Make pet microchips compulsory to curb rabies, says rep

Dr Kelvin Yii - file pic

KUCHING, Sept 6: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii says it is of great urgency to make the microchipping of dogs compulsory in view of the rabies outbreak.

While welcoming the Sarawak government’s initiative to table the bill concerned in the November State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting to monitor dog ownership through pet microchip implants, he strongly questioned the reasoning of Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian in delaying the introduction of the bill by giving way to other “more urgent” bills such as that concerning the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land issue.

Dr Yii acknowledged the importance of the NCR issue, but believed that the bill that concerned controlling the rabies outbreak was of equal importance as it affected the public.

“Thus, this issue should have been given extra time to be debated and a bill to address this issue should have been tabled,” said Dr Yii.

Citing parliamentary sittings that stretched into the late night, he believed that the DUN might also do the same, for urgent bills that were matters of life and death.

“I believe the members of the State Assembly including those from the opposition bench will be fully supportive of this and will show our support if it is needed to contain the outbreak and stop any more lives from being affected,” said Dr Yii in a statement yesterday.

He said the next DUN session will be held in November and the fact was that even after passing the bill, it would take even more time for it to be implemented. However, such delay has caused rabies-infected areas to increase while more lives were lost due to the delay.

“This clearly shows the lack of urgency shown by the state government to properly deal with the outbreak which was first detected in July of 2017.

“At that time, there were only five villages that were declared as rabies-infected areas and only contained in Serian.

“But since then, the outbreak has spread to many different places and currently it stands at 36 rabies affected areas across the state comprising of Kuching division, Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman, and Sarikei.

“On top of that, there were reportedly 13 humans that fell victim to this disease including the last reportedly a five-year-old boy from Mile 6 Penrissen Road.”

He said the inserting pets with a microchip which is a radio frequency implant would provide permanent identity for pets.

“This is to properly identify the pet owners so that we can keep them accountable and responsible to take care of their dogs and pets in an attempt to address the issue of dog/pet dumping contributing to the increase of stray dogs.

“This is important because, no matter whatever decision made by the state government to control the population of strays, the issue will repeat itself if irresponsible owners continue to dump their dogs,” he said.

He said the local councils should further enforce dog licensing on top of the required mircrochip, to allow more effective control of pets in case of any outbreak.

Dr Yii also suggested that certain parts of the Federal Animal Welfare Act 2015 be incorporated into state laws such the State Cruelty to Animals (Prevention) Ordinance 1963 especially if Sarawak hoped to foster more responsible pet ownership among Malaysians, where it required all pet owners to be fully responsible for the well-being of the animals under their care, which includes proper lodging, healthcare and diet.

“These provisions and other provisions in the federal act is also important to make sure no inhumane treatment of dogs or animals even during the event of a disease outbreak.

“I do hope there will be no more delays in the implementation of the act in the DUN, and that the issue of rabies should be taken seriously to make sure no more lives are lost due to this outbreak which could have been prevented,” said Dr Yii. — DayakDaily