By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, April 12: Pet owners and dog lovers are urging the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to stop the `inhumane’ act of mass culling dogs.
In addition, Danny Chung, a spokesman for the dog owners, has accused the Committee of blatantly abusing its powers by allowing its anti-rabies team to shoot dogs on sight, be they have been vaccinated or otherwise, including within the compound of private properties.
“We have received numerous reports from friends, residents and people from the ground that the dog-catching team are unscrupulously shooting pets inside residents’ houses although they are not permitted to do so,” he told reporters at the Police One Stop Centre in Simpang Tiga here this morning.
Earlier, he and several dog owners lodged a police report against the Committee, which is chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, and other authorities involved in the operations for trespassing into private properties and shooting their dogs with tranquiliser darts.
A few videos of the act have gone viral in the social media and had drawn a lot of flak from pet owners and dog lovers alike.
Chung said the anti-rabies team’s job was to remove strays that roam freely in the streets and neighbourhoods only. Hence, he wondered whether they were acting under orders from above or flouting standard operating procedure (SOP).
“There has to be clarity on this. There are victims, whose dogs were shot inside their houses, lodging reports against local authorities with us here today. Some claimed the enforcement team asked residents to grant entry into their homes in order to vaccinate their pets, but once they got in, their pets were shot,” he alleged.
Chung also questioned the need for the rabies team to engage the services of soldiers armed with M16 assault rifles during operations at residential areas.
He claimed that some residents had complained of suffering from `psychological injuries’ because of that and called upon Defence Minister Mat Sabu and Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to look into this matter.
He called on Uggah, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang and Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Datuk James Chan to explain the issue at hand.
Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, who was also present, clarified that the National Guard, not the army, was involved in the rabies operations in the state because the state disaster level had been elevated to Level 2 due to the rabies outbreak.
He said he had reported the matter, including the trespassing into private property issue, to Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye couple of days ago.
“Some of the issues are not under his jurisdiction. Nonetheless, we requested Dr Lee to write an official letter to the Committee to express concerns over these allegations and whether to conduct an independent investigation. My concern is that the current investigation is being done by the Committee itself, so they are investigating themselves.
“So, that itself may not be very independent. At the end of the day, while we support all efforts to curb the rabies outbreak, it must follow the proper SOP, must be humane, as well as not cause any distress or security concerns to the residents,” emphasised Dr Yii.
On April 7, Uggah said he would wait for a probe into the matter before commenting on the video that had gone viral.
Two days later, Uggah, during a post-mortem meeting on the operation at MPP, reported that 379 officers and other personnel were mobilised and managed to vaccinate 1,331 dogs while removing 1,271 off the streets.
He also reminded the anti-rabies team not to tranquilise dogs inside private properties.
“If the team approaches any dogs within the compound, it is for the purpose of vaccination, which is in line with our main objective,” said Uggah.
He also said the cooperation and collaboration of dog owners were indispensable to ensure the fight against rabies would be successful and for Sarawak to be declared free of it soonest. — DayakDaily