I Am Not Food!

Yesterday we posted several Tweets online regards the comments by Veterinary Services Department (VSD) deputy director general Dr Ahmad Suhaimi Omar on stray dogs and their suggested consumption by exotic meat eaters to curb overpopulation at pounds. As expected our Tweets prompted a lot of very angry responses. @muffinmctuffin said “that’s just fucking ridiculous!” @absolutelyfuzzy called it “so sick” and @jaclynelisha used some colourful expletives. So we promised to post the deets in full and provide address to where you can send your letters of protest.

So here it is in full. In an e-newsletter mailed to JUICE by SPCA (’cause we’re friends of the furry and on SPCA’s mailing list) on Tuesday 16 March, entitled Tuesday Tails | Eating Cats & Dogs To Solve The Stray Crisis? it carried the following story: Suggestion to consume strays shot down by Meena L. Ramadas, as carried in The Sun newspaper.

“PETALING JAYA (March 7, 2010): People with a penchant for exotic meat should be allowed to buy dogs from dog pounds for consumption, Veterinary Services Department (VSD) deputy director general Dr Ahmad Suhaimi Omar says.

Ahmad Suhaimi, who made the suggestion at a forum on effective animal pound management organised by the Petaling Jaya City Council’s Canine Advisory Team last week, said people who have no qualms about eating dog meat should be allowed to eat dogs kept in pounds.

“Do we have to keep the dogs at the pounds forever?” he asked. “They are animals, just like chickens or goats,” he added.

He said consuming dogs kept in pounds will help to check the number of strays at the pounds and help address any unmanageable increase of strays.

His suggestion sparked an outburst from a veterinarian who was among those attending the forum.

Without identifying herself, the vet, who appeared to be quite emotional, said: “About consuming dogs, the answer is simply no.”

She said as an animal lover, it was unimaginable to consume dogs and strays at that.
“I find the suggestion inhumane and cruel,” she said.

Ahmad Suhaimi responded by saying he too did not have the stomach to eat stray dogs, but as a veterinarian who is required to think clinically, it is important to consider all options when dealing with the issue of strays.

“I like to think outside the box,” he said with a laugh, which received some sniggers from those present.

Ahmad Suhaimi’s pitch, however, did not make the cut. The forum made five recommendations for animal pound management. This were that local councils should work with the veterinary department; local councils should cooperate with NGOs on catching strays; micro-chipping canines for easy ownership identification, educating pet owners and more stringent licensing laws.

A total of 12 local councils participated in the forum which was held in light of media reports last week about the appalling conditions at the Selayang Municipal Council’s (MPS) dog pound.

State executive councillor for health Dr Xavier Jayakumar, at a press conference earlier, said municipal councils have been instructed to maintain cleanliness at their pounds, and to work with the VSD. Officers in charge also have to treat sick animals and follow guidelines when euthanising them.” — theSun

It’s enough to make us foam at the mouth and see red. Thankfully Dr Ahmad Suhaimi Omar “out of the box” suggestions were not taken seriously and were not included in the final 5 recommendations for animal pound management, but it does make you wonder at the mentality of the people put in charge of the Veterinary Services Department. You would think animal welfare would be part of their KPI, but I guess they didn’t get the memo. Nor did they get a dose of compassion when god was handing it out. Too busy roasting dogs at the time maybe…. So what is a real life caring human being to do about this? In the same newsletter, here’s what SPCA says and suggests (and I quote):

It is illegal to eat dogs & cats in Hong Kong, Korea and Philippines and it is banned in Taiwan. China’s growing middle class is pushing for a law against the eating of dogs & cats in their progressive country. It is shocking that Malaysian authorities are proposing eating dogs as a means to curb the stray dog population. As protectors of animals, it is a shame to propose this barbaric, inhumane, cruel and totally unacceptable solution. Instead they should propose humane, effective, sustainable and socially acceptable measures like high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinics and promote Responsible Pet Ownership.

Speak Up For The Voiceless
Please write in to the authorities, and tell them politely but firmly that you would like to illegalize the eating of cats and dogs in Malaysia – like Hong Kong, Korea, Philippines, and Taiwan have done. It is not in the Malaysian culture to eat these domestic animals, and it is a cruel trade that many animal welfare organizations worldwide are lobbying to ban.

Dato Dr Ahmad Suhaimi Omar
Veterinary Services Department (VSD) deputy director general
tkpkv@dvs.gov.my /  suhaimi@dvs.com.my

Dato Dr Abd. Aziz Jamaluddin
Veterinary Services Department (VSD) director general
Kp@dvs.gov.my / azizj@dvs.gov.my

End quote.

So please speak up people. This should not be left to slide. The powers may assume our silence to be a mandate to accept their sometimes ill thought out suggestions.

On another note, this discussion did raise some other complicated questions – get ready for it. If you find the idea of eating an animal which is abundant morally unacceptable, then doesn’t that make killing an animal that is rare and struggling to survive like say a tiger or a shark (for its fin alone) for consumption or (even worse!) vanity even more deplorable. I think the answer has to be yes. So don’t forget to spread that message too.

Thanks for listening.