KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has slammed a local newspaper for carrying an unverified news report accusing the Sarawak government of animal cruelty in the fight against rabies.
I regret to read a news report entitled: ‘Dog hunters drowning strays to save costs’. As far as I know, there is an SOP (standard operating procedure) for the veterinary department to do targeted removal of strays.
It does not involve drowning the dogs which is very inhumane. If such incident happened, we will take action against the perpetrator, he told The Borneo Post in an exclusive interview at his office today.
To ensure that he got the right information and be fair to the staff who were being accused of carrying out the cruel act, Uggah visited State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (SVDL) in Kota Samarahan together with the chief editor of the newspaper.
During the visit, we invited the writer of the article, James Ritchie, to see for himself the situation at SVDL in Kota Samarahan, Uggah added.
Uggah, who is the chairman of State Disaster Management Committee, said they were briefed by the officers on the SOP of targeted removal of strays and they were convinced that what was alleged was completely false.
There is no stray dog drowning as alleged by the writer. There is no evidence that any dog have been drowned, and there is no water tank as alleged in the news report. The only water tank in the premise is the water filter tank to supply clean water to the lab, he said.
Uggah assured the public and all dog owners that the Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak (DVS) is observing a very strict protocol.
We would like to assure the public that SOP will be adhered to. The veterinary department has never adopted such a cruel method to put a dog to sleep, he stressed.
Uggah regretted the newspaper’s action in publishing the unverified news that could be deemed instigating and could easily cause uproar among the animal loving community.
We regret the newspaper’s action in publishing such an irresponsible report based on unverified facts that can cause anger and anxiety among the people, especially dog owners, he concluded.
President of Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), Datin Dona Drury-Wee also dismissed the news report as fake news and appealed to journalists to stop spreading sensational rumours.
Can I say that journalists have a duty not to spread sensational rumours. It is difficult enough to deal with misinformation from other media, she said.
She also shared the DVS’ concern on the public awareness and responsibility.
I would like to remind the public that as responsible pet owners, they need to be aware that the council by laws do not allow pets to roam outside their premises. Even dog lovers don’t agree with free roaming pets, she said.
She was however relieved that the public are showing greater awareness on rabies outbreak now after the local authority issued an ultimatum via Kuching South City Council (MBKS) recently.
When we went Tabuan Jaya, there were not that many free roaming dogs, because the public had been given ample notice to keep their pets within their own compounds, she added.
Meanwhile, Director of DVS Dr Adrian Susin Ambud has lodged a police report over the news article. He lodged the police report at Sungai Maong police station here at around 6pm.
Dr Adrian said the police report was made after he consulted Uggah.
As the director of DVS, I am concerned and responsible for the safety of my staff. We want the public to take extra precaution and to ensure their dogs are vaccinated, he said.
Dr Adrian also reminded the public that under Section 37(2) & (3) Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999, it is an offence to allow their pet dogs roaming in rabies infected area without written permission from State Veterinary Authority.
One is liable to a penalty of up to RM5,000 or three months imprisonment or both upon conviction.
Dr Adrian also warned dog owners in rabies infected areas that it is mandatory to get rabies vaccination for their pets, adding that failure to do so would make them liable to an offence under section 40 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999 that carries a maximum fine of RM2,500.
Dr Adrian also reminded dog owners that dogs without proof of anti-Rabies vaccination can be caught and put to sleep.
Source: SARAWAK GOVERNMENT