Animal lovers like me are sick of finger pointing, rants, vigils, protests and meetings following the controversy regarding the culling of street dogs following a recent rabies outbreak last month. Since September 21st, there has been no new cases of infected dogs.
Newly-minted Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek has breathed new hope into this issue with his attempt to address matters on animal welfare via middle ground.
Thank you, Shabery, for creating a new platform of cooperation on animal issues via the establishment of a special committee comprising both Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and NGO representatives, under the umbrella of your Ministry.
This pro-active and humane path certainly augurs well, not only for the canine population but also for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who lobby for the betterment of animals.
That a Federal Minister has gone the extra mile to take proactive steps to intervene in what is regarded as a regional problem affecting the northern states of the Peninsula is highly commendable.
Beyond paying lip service, Shabery has given the assurance that the DVS will visit Penang to assess the situation and facilities there before embarking on mass vaccination.
One that listens to the rakyat, it is reassuring to note how he has listened to and accepted explanations from NGOs regarding how many strays are actually community dogs that had been neutered and vaccinated.
A gentleman, Shabery will not ride roughshod over state administration in his decision not to call for a stop to the culling. Instead some of the measures he suggested indicate a very pragmatic long-term solution including:
Vaccinate the street dogs first,
Quarantine these vaccinated dogs,
Ensure community dogs (who are being fed and cared for by feeders) are properly labelled as such of those.
This is a caring and committed Minister who has a plan, executes that plan and engages the rakyat to see it through for long haul in a win-win situation for all, including the innocent dogs.
Those who nosedive into inhumane stop-gap measures via culling must learn the ways of Shabery.
By Tan Hock Khai
The Malay Mail