SSPCA animals receive blessing

Blessed stray animals

Blessed stray animals

KUCHING: A total of 302 animals at the Animal Shelter of Sarawak Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) in Kota Sentosa here were blessed in a ceremony to commemorate the World Animal Day 2016 on Oct 4.

Fr Gerard Victor of St. Ann’s Church, Kota Padawan conducted the animal blessings.

According to SSPCA chairman Rebecca D’Cruz, the animals include stray animals, pets abandoned by their owners, and unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, including those dumped at markets and food centres around town.

“If the situation remains unchanged, we are very likely to see an increase in the stray animal population in Kuching. This could lead to more incidents of human-animal conflicts and potentially, the transmission of animal-related diseases to humans.

“The SSPCA would like to remind the people of Kuching that the SSPCA Shelter is not a dumping ground for their unwanted pets, puppies and kittens. If you choose to keep a pet, you are responsible for its care for as long as it is alive. If you do not intend to keep any puppies or kittens, get your pet sprayed or neutered. The SSPCA reserves the right to refuse to accept animals from irresponsible pet owners,” she added.

D’Cruz emphasised that SSPCA aims to promote responsible pet ownership.

“We would like to remind dog owners that they have to get an annual license tag for each pet dog they own; this can be obtained at your local council office. Pet dogs should not be allowed to roam freely outside the compound of your house because this can be a hazard to the community.

“Always walk your dog on a leash,” she said.

SSPCA also calls on the local councils and the Veterinary Department to regulate dog breeders and dealers, and especially those operating in housing areas.

“These puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditiongs without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization.

“In order to maximise profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters. Puppy mill puppies, often as young as eight weeks of age, are sold to pet shops or directly to the public,” she said.

She pointed out that in a puppy mill, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs and it is not usual for cages to be stacked in columns. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.

“Because puppy mills focus on profit, dogs are often bred with little regard for genetic quality.

“Puppy mill puppies are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions including heart disease and blood and respiratory disorders. These are usually dumped at markets or food centres, which adds to the growing stray dog population,” she said.

In addition, puppy mill puppies often arrive in pet stores in their new homes with diseases or infirmities ranging from parasites to pneumonia.

Because puppies are removed from their littermates and mothers at a young age, they also often suffer from fear, anxiety and other behavioural problems. Because so many of these breeders are operating without oversight, it is impossible to accurately track them or to know how many there truly are, she explained.

“The SSPCA is working to get the Animal Welfare Act 2015 adopted in Sarawak; this Bill carries heavy penalties for those who abuse or dump animals. Any person who commits an offence shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than RM20, 000 and not more than RM100, 000 or to imprisonment for a term not more than 3 years or both.

“Currently, this Act applies to Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan. We call on the Sarawak State Government to adopt this act,” she added.

Meanwhile, SSPCA president Datin Dona Wee said that the World Animal Day is celebrated annually across the world on Oct 4 with an aim to raise the status of animals in order to improve animal welfare standards around the globe.

“World Animal Day is the one day of the year that embraces all animals in every country. It is a special opportunity to commemorate our love and respect for animals by doing something special to highlight their importance in the world.

“It also unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force for change. Through increased awareness and education, we can help develop a compassionate culture which feeds into legal reform and social progress to make this world a fairer place for all living creatures,” she added.

Fr Gerard Victor of St. Ann’s Church conducting the animal blessings

Fr Gerard Victor of St. Ann’s Church conducting the animal blessings

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