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Concerns of society critical when keeping pets, feeding stray animals

Stray cats congregate along a back lane in Bangsar - BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

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Those concerned about animal welfare are aghast whenever any action is taken against stray creatures.

Their passions for these creatures run deep but, sadly, they are oblivious to other prevailing realities affecting society.

Let me at the outset say I am an animal lover too, but for a variety of reasons, I don’t keep a pet.

During my morning walks, I notice stray animals in places like Bangsar, Lucky Gardens and even in the city centre, like at the vicinity of the Pasar Seni Light Rail Transit station. On occasions, I was chased by stray dogs but, thankfully, have not been attacked.

Many of these wild animals roam around in neighbourhoods. Some show up at regular intervals, looking for food from sympathetic people.

Anyone can keep a pet or feed a stray animal, but rights come with responsibilities for the consequences of one’s actions.

Do these stray animals need help from humans to find food? Not always, as their survival instincts and natural diet are the healthiest form of food for them.

It is an irony, but human food can cause sometimes cause more harm than good.


Feeding wild and stray animals may cause conflict with neighbours. Encouraging these animals to hang around your neighbourhood could lead to misunderstandings between you and your neighbours.

These stray animals may damage property, threaten the safety of children and pets, create noise or emit odour.

Sometimes, they congregate in large numbers around feeding areas. A few get involved in animal fights. As strays don’t have veterinary care, this may lead to increased disease transmission and untreated injuries.

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Some folks feed stray cats and dogs out of compassion. But they do not realise such actions also attract rats. Sometimes larger predators are also attracted to the smaller animals being fed.

A few cats visiting your porch may lead to more animals flocking to your property.

My opposite neighbour faces the problem of countless cats congregating in his back lane. Some irresponsible person drives by the back lane and provides food for these stray cats. My neighbour lodged a report with Kuala Lumpur City Hall, but the problem has not yet been resolved.

Not a day goes by when I don’t see cats’ and dogs’ droppings on the roads in Bangsar Park.

Some irresponsible residents instruct their domestic workers to take the dogs along the back lanes of Bangsar Park to do their business. Such behaviour is unbecoming.

I once saw a domestic worker in a back lane in Bangsar Park with a dog doing its business. When I called out to her to clean up the mess, she ran off.

My neighbour’s cat comes into my compound at night and does its business. The smell is nauseating.

Sometime I have to get up at 3am after my neighbour’s dog barks. Is it fair to me to be denied my sleep at night when my neighbour’s dog barks past midnight?

Pigeons: A menace

Often people in our neighbourhood and in the KL city centre feed pigeons assuming it to be a humane and compassionate act. People throw food for the pigeons and cats in places like Lucky Gardens, Bangsar and the area behind the Pasar Seni LRT station.

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Some health experts believe pigeons’ droppings and feathers are associated with respiratory diseases. Pigeons’ droppings are also acidic and can cause damage to buildings and monuments.

Many may not realise that feeding pigeons is not only harmful to the creatures themselves, but it also destroys their natural hunting instincts.

In Singapore, the law is punitive towards anyone feeding pigeons. A court in the island republic fined a 67-year-old man S$4,800 (RM16,500) for feeding pigeons. He had thrown slices of bread on the pavement and grass verge and continued to do so on 15 other occasions, despite being warned. It is an offence to feed pigeons without written approval.

Many years ago, a neighbour of mine threw rice daily in front of her house. The pigeons came to feast themselves daily; they sat on my front gate and left their droppings. My car too was not spared the pigeons’ droppings, which also dimmed the colour of the car.

I wrote to City Hall to erect signs in strategic places in KL to advise people not to not feed pigeons and stray animals, but it has failed to do so. City Hall should take cognisance of this critical matter. Other local authorities throughout the country too should do likewise.

It is time for City Hall and all local authorities to enact bylaws to curb this menace to society. Take action against such feeding to avert any disease outbreak of any unforeseen disease.

Like in Singapore, the authorities must fine those who feed pigeons and other stray animals.

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In all fairness, City Hall regularly fogs our neighbourhoods whenever there is a dengue outbreak. Its prompt measures to avert the spread of dengue are much appreciated. Similarly, action must also be taken against those feeding pigeons and stray animals to minimise the possibility of a disease outbreak.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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10 Oct 2023 8.16pm

Stray cats are harmless animals and helps to reduce rats population. Simple logic.

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