THE heavy sentence handed down to the “laundry cat killer” by the Selayang Sessions Court early last week says it all – the law is serious about animal welfare.
The accused and his accomplices – one was sentenced, the other got a discharge not amounting to an acquittal – were also charged under a “new” law, the Animal Welfare Act 2015, which has never been used before to prosecute animal abusers.
In previous cases, the punishment for such offenders were much lighter – in some cases, the culprits got away with a fine as low as RM200 under the Animal Act 1953.
The court’s decision should be lauded, as it is high time for the authorities to take tougher action against these offenders and the number of animal cruelty cases reported to the authorities nationwide is on the rise.According to the Veterinary Services Department, the number of animal abuse cases has jumped by 30% across the country, from 510 in 2017 to 662 cases last year.
This landmark case, where K. Ganesh, 42, was sentenced to 34 months’ jail and fined RM40,000, while his accomplice, A. Mohanraj, 42, was sentenced (in January this year) to two years’ jail by the Sessions Court for putting a pregnant cat in a dryer at a launderette in Taman Gombak Ria, Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, clearly show that the law is making animal welfare a priority.As such, law enforcement agencies, including the local authorities, in this country must also be more serious when enforcing other rules, regulations and laws pertaining to the animal-related businesses to make life better for these pets.
For a start, stricter enforcement should be placed on all individuals and businesses who handle animals for a living. They have to abide by the law and have a valid licence from the Animal Welfare Board under Section 20 of the Animal Welfare Act 2015 to operate.
With the growing demand for pet hotels, pet shops, animal shelters, and more of the like, such licences must ensure some form of a standard is set for operating and managing the business professionally and ethically.
There is also a need to govern pet ownership, ensuring the animals are cared for properly as required under Section 24 of the new Act.
The Act states that it is the responsibility of the owner to fulfil the needs of the animals, giving them a suitable environment and care, including a proper diet and medical treatment.This should be followed with strict enforcement to bar anyone from becoming a pet owner for a specific period, as spelt by the law, if they breach such commitments.
This would certainly reduce the number of abandoned pedigree cats and dogs, many left by the roadside when they are sick or old.
With the new law, which kicked in officially in July 2017, giving more bite to act against and punish those who are cruel to animals, one has to be more serious and committed to keeping pets.
If one is not able to commit to such obligations, he or she should forget about being a pet owner.