Petknode horror a tragedy waiting to happen

By N Surendran, Vice President of Keadilan

The horrific abuse and starvation of hundreds of cats at the Petknode “hotel” has shocked the nation. Several hundred cats have been rescued, whereas ar least sixteen cats and kittens died a slow and painful death by starvation. Many of the rescued cats are in poor condition and more are expected to die. Meanwhile the clock is ticking for at over 100 more cats which were boarded at Petknode but have yet to be found.

This tragedy once again illustrates the abject failure of the authorities in tackling animal abuse and cruelty cases. For decades, animal abusers have been let off with laughable fines. This has sent out the message to potential animal abusers that they have nothing to fear even if they are apprehended and charged in court. In cases of animal cruelty, the Animal Act 1953 prescribes a ridiculous RM200 fine and imprisonment of up to 6 months only.

The government has paid no attention to the decades long plea by activists and concerned citizens for the penalty to be increased, despite having made repeated false promises that the Act will be amended. Meanwhile, the Department of Veterinary Sciences (DVS) which has powers of prosecution in cruelty cases, is slow to act and rarely brings prosecutions.

The police force, despite having vast resources and powers of arrest under s.45 Animal Act 1953 have shown no interest in taking action in animal cruelty cases. The Attorney General who has ultimate control of all prosecutions and wide-ranging powers to advise and direct the authorities, has paid little attention to animal cruelty cases. It is this pattern of long-standing institutional neglect and apathy that has led to the Petknode horror.

We are particularly shocked that despite clear evidence and countless police reports lodged by pet owners, as of last night the police have yet to classify this crime under s.420 Penal Code for cheating or s.379 Penal Code for theft. Worse, the two culprits were released by police despite the fact that there are still over 100 cats missing and possibly secreted somewhere by the perpertrators. Pet owners, activists and the public are disappointed and saddened by this state of affairs which reflects ill upon our nation. The search for the missing cats should be a national priority. Are we going to abandon them to a slow death by starvation? We call upon the authorities:

a) to immediately classify the Petknode case under cheating/theft;
b) allocate maximum police resources for the search for the missing 100 cats;
c) make the passing of an amended Animal Act with increased penalties a legislative priority;
d) prosecute to the fullest extent of the law the perpetrators of this heinous crime.