Remembering Sheena

Stop Animal Abuse in Malaysia.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Animal Act 1953 (Revised 2006) Makes No Changes To Pre-Merdeka Animal Ordinance 1953

With a constant stream of visitors to our blog, many have asked how the RSC came about, and what we are fighting for. Hence, we provide here a chronology of events that caused our indignation at animal abuse, forced our birth and focused our struggle against animal abuse in Malaysia.

We were first moved by the plight of Sheena, the German Shepherd, that was kept tied and starved by her keeper, an engineer from Subang Jaya. The next door neighbour was devastated at watching the dog starve to death, and tried to feed it. But Sheena's keeper threw away the food and water (as reported in the national newspapers).

This neighbour telephoned the Department of Veterinary Services (the only authority in Malaysia with powers to arrest and charge animal abusers) three times to help Sheena, but no one came.

Out of desperation, she called former SPCA animal inspector, Sabrina Yeap, who led the rescue efforts. Sabrina carried Sheena out of the house in her arms, but Sheena was too weak and had to be put down. Her stomach had shrunk and her bones had become brittle from malnutrition.

In court, Sheena's keeper admitted guilt but was only fined RM100. No custodial sentence was meted out. Since 1953, when the Ordinance was passed, we can count on two hands the number of cases the DVS has taken to court, although animal shelters report about three cases of abuse each day.

Then came Tim, a daschund whose keeper tied him up in the sun and rain without ever letting him free. Tim got so frustrated he kept pulling on the metal chain until it got embedded in his neck. Tim survived with his neck continuously bleeding, for God knows how long, until a good Samaritan complained to the authorities.

Did Tim finally get rescued from his nightmare? The court fined the keeper RM200 and returned Tim to his keeper!

Then there is the cat breeder who kept his wards in cages so small and filthy that they looked deformed (pictures were published in the Star).

Many sad stories of animal abuse don't even reach the newspapers. RSC stands as a voice for all of them. We are committed to God in all that we do and we believe wholeheartedly that these abusers and indifferent by-standers will one day have to stand before God and be judged for their actions and indifference.

RSC's first project was a rally on January 21, 2006, which called on the Government to amend the Animal Ordinance 1953, which imposed only a maximum jail term of 6 months or maximum fine of RM200 or both on anyone found guilty of abusing an animal.

Since 1953, one or two jail terms had been meted out, and that too for a maximum of only two days – for a woman who threw hot water on her dog.

So with deep regret we report that the Animals Act 1953 was passed this year without any changes to the 1953 Ordinance. No improvement at all and the same penalty although animal activists called for a one year mandatory jail sentence and RM10,000 fine.

We called for a "mandatory jail sentence" because we have no faith that our courts will meet out stiff jail sentences when abusers come before them. Mandatory means they have no choice but to impose that specified jail sentence.

Malaysia is in the dark ages when it comes to the protection of animals and the environment, compared to other countries. And we are not even comparing Malaysia with Western countries, but with Islamic and Asian countries.

In the United Arab Emirates the law that protects animals has the following penalty:

"Every person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates or tortures a living animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal, is guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, or by a fine of not more then Dh10,000 (RM10,300), or by both the fine and the imprisonment."

The laws in such Islamic countries even go so far as to protect strays too and not just domestic pets.

India has sentenced famous Bollywood actor, Salman Khan to five years’ jail for killing endangered wildlife. But even before Salman's case, Indian courts had been coming down hard on animal abusers, as can be seen from the many cases frequently reported in their newspapers.

Hong Kong is about to pass its Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill 2006 later this year, which will see heavier penalties for animal abuse.

Long jail sentences will curb the abuse but sadly in Malaysia there is no legal or political will to stop animal abuse, the rape of our environment, poaching, smuggling and the illegal trade of our wildlife.

So it's up to ordinary people like us who have the love of God in our hearts to keep educating and speaking up in the hope that when we change hearts and minds the Goodness of the Human Spirit will overcome the Darkness.


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