Animal Cruelty: Are We Doing Enough?
by Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi ~ 27 September 2018
Yet again, Malaysians are greeted by truly upsetting news relating to animal cruelty. Not too long ago, there was the case of Furby the guard dog being mercilessly beaten and now we have a pregnant cat being placed in a clothes dryer. Who are the culprits in these incidents? The beings purportedly called human, of course!
As much as we would wish otherwise, this will not be the last case of animal cruelty. Apart from preaching the need to treat animals well, reporting such cases to the authorities and hoping for people to change, there is not much else that we can do.
So what does the law provide in relation to animal cruelty cases? The applicable law is the Animal Welfare Act 2015, in particular, Section 29 of the Act.
Pursuant to Section 29(1), any person who commits, inter alia, the following acts can be charged for the offence of animal cruelty:
- cruelly beats, kicks, overloads, tortures or terrifies any animals;
- overrides or overdrives any animal, except for activities in relation to equestrian sports which are listed in the First Schedule of the Sports Development Act 1997;
- causes, procures or, being the owner, permits any animal to be so used;
- being the owner of any animal or, being the person in charge of any animal in confinement, fails or neglects to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter;
- by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, causes any unnecessary pain or suffering, or, being the owner, permits any unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal;
- causes, procures or, being the owner, permits any animal to be confined, conveyed, lifted or carried in such manner or position as to subject such animal to unnecessary pain or suffering;
- employs, causes, procures or, being the owner, permits to be employed at any work or labour, any animal which in consequence of any disease, infirmity, wound or sore, or otherwise is unfit to be so employed;
- mutilates any animal in any manner including ear cropping, tail docking, defanging, declawing, branding, piercing or debarking unless in the manner as determined and certified by a veterinary authority or a registered veterinary surgeon;
- skins, roasts or kills any live animals for superstitious belief through a procedure which causes pain and suffering to the animals;
- extracts any parts of any live animals through a procedure which causes pain and suffering to the animals for the purpose of getting skins, oils or other animal products;
- dynamites, electrifies or poisons any streams, rivers or other water bodies for the purpose of killing, harvesting or catching animals;
- keeps any animal chained or tethered by using a short or heavy chain or cord, or hobbles the legs of animal;
- keeps or confines any animal in any cage or other receptacles which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and width to permit the natural movement of the animal;
- offers for sale any animal which is suffering in pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment;
- possesses, without reasonable cause, any animal which is suffering in pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment;
- abandons any animal in circumstances which the animal is likely to suffer trauma, pain or suffering by reason of relocation, starvation, thirst, injury or illness;
- being the owner of any animal, willfully or negligently causes any animal to go out unattended in any place while the animal is infected with infectious disease;
- being the owner of animal, willfully or negligently causes any diseased, disabled or injured animal to die in any place;
- causes, obtain or assists at the fighting or baiting of any animal, or keeps, uses, manages, or acts or assists in the management of any premises or place for the purpose of fighting or baiting any animal, or permits any premises or place to be so kept, managed or used, or receives or causes or obtains any person to receive, money for the admission of any person to such premises or place;
- promotes or takes part in any shooting match or competition of which animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting; or
- organizes, participates, promotes or in any manner is associated with any sport or activity involving the use of animals, where such animals are subjected to cruelty, either during the sport or activity itself or while in training, Section 29 further provides that any person who commits such offence shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than RM20,000.00 and not more than RM100,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years, or both.
Interestingly, under Section 56 if such offence is committed by a body corporate, any person who at the time of the offence was a CEO, director, manager, secretary, or other similar officers, who were responsible for the offence may be jointly and severally charged for the offence.
It also good to know that an Animal Welfare Officer has the same powers to investigate as a police officer as provided in the Criminal Procedure Code. See Section 39 of the Animal Welfare Act.
Do note that that pursuant to Section 61 of the Act, no prosecution of any offence under the Act can be instituted except by or with the written consent of the Public Prosecutor. So to ensure that such cases of animal cruelty are prosecuted, it is important for the public to lodge the necessary reports with the authorities whenever they witness such incidents.
However, with such measly punishments, it is no surprise that people are not deterred from committing such despicable acts. It is hoped that the current Government will amend the Act to give it more bite to protect animals who are unable to protect themselves.