What we have seen so far of animal abuse cases that have been reported in the media seem to be just the tip of the iceberg in Malaysia.
Komunitikini recently speaks with several experts in psychology, animal activism, and animal welfare to understand the issues better.
One recurring question among the public was whether Chow Xiao Mei, who was caught on video torturing two kittens in early March, should have been let off the hook after making a public apology at a press conference that the Serdang DAP assemblyman Ean Yong Hin Wah had helped to organise.
“Abusers generally don’t feel much remorse for what they have done. It happens because they come to a point where they become numb to what they do. What the politicians should have done is to help her seek psychiatric help and not just apologise,” says animal welfare activist, Nick Josh Karean.
Clinical psychologist Urmilah Dass agrees with his views.
“I think it would be best for her is for her to seek psychological help. Even if she is punished under the law, what good will it do? What will she possibly learn from it?” she asks.
Government and activists
“Until now I have not seen any serious attempt by the Malaysian government to promote any form of animal protection or any form of humane education,” says Nick.
He gives the government the benefit of the doubt, however, adding that “they probably do not realise the importance of humane education themselves.”
“Stricter laws should be imposed on animal abusers. If life imprisonment with therapy is given to offenders, I am personally interested to see how many people will continue abusing an animal.”
Urmilah meanwhile sheds light on the aggressive manner in which many animal lovers reacted to the video of the mother cat and her kittens being tortured to death.
“Animal activists have been, for years, asking for the laws pertaining to animal welfare to be changed.
“It is probably the frustration that causes them to retort in an aggressive manner. Apart from that, watching this video might have given some of them a form of acute stress as well,” she adds.
Pet stores and animal shelters
Another concern that seemingly contributes to significant and unseen animal abuse is the fact that the general public continuously patronises pet stores.
“People should stop buying pets from pet stores,” says Nick.
“If you need a companion, go to the nearest shelter and adopt an animal. There are plenty of animals that need homes. Help them.
“When people buy animals from pet stores, it encourages the pet store operators to ‘mass produce’ puppies. And these puppy mills are normally of shockingly poor conditions.
“After the fertility [of the mother dog] wanes, the breeding animals are often cruelly killed or abandoned,” he adds.
Paws Animal Welfare Society’s shelter manager, Edward Lim, is well-versed in the difficulties of running animal shelters in Malaysia.
“People should understand that our charity is for the animals, and not the people,” he says.
“Many come here expecting us to take their dogs, as if we owe it to them to house their dogs. Before expecting us to help them out, the people should reach out and help us first.”
Edward laments the fact that no animal shelters in Malaysia receive any form of funding from the government.
“Our government is not very minded towards animal welfare. None of the animal organisations get any funding from them, so maybe here is where the government should hep out.”