Though Malaysia already had animal welfare laws in place, they have now implemented a new law which places stricter punishments on individuals who abuse or neglect animals. The law was implemented followed by heavy advocacy by animal rights activists who didn’t believe that the current laws were strict enough. Activists were fighting specifically to see a reduction in the amount of crimes being committed across the country against animals.
“There were so many cases reported in the media, especially social media on animal cruelty. I think for the future, awareness will increase and with the heavier penalties, the offenses will be reduced,” said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
ChannelNewsAsia, says that the new rules include higher fines. The minimum fine is RM20,000 (over $5,200 US) for those who do not adhere and punishment can also include jail time. The RM20,000 fine is 100 times greater than the penalty outlined in the Animal Act 1953- preceding the new law. The new act will provide guidelines for animal care and maintenance on the individual and commercial level. Provisions include outlines for cage size requirements at pets stores, to requirements for animal transportation, and more. Though activists are happy for a step in the right direction, many were saddened that the new act does not include spay and neuter requirements.
“It is something very sad,” stated Edward Lim, shelter manager at PAWS Animal Welfare Society. “Owners are not doing their part. They should neuter their animal, they should not be letting their animals breed unnecessarily.”
Spaying and neutering is an important consideration in Malaysia as the population of stray animals is abundant and in need of constant solutions.
Activists say that the reasons for the stray problem are numerous. The issue is partly due to the religious beliefs of some Malaysian Muslim people who believe that spaying and neutering is cruel. In actuality, cruelty ensues from an overpopulation of animals. Other reasons for the problem include a lack of public awareness and knowledge.
Educating the population is the best way to change the circumstance and the government is reportedly also considering implementing animal education in public schools.