Malaysia has amended its law to impose heavier penalties for animal cruelty offences with the Animal Welfare Act 2015, but a law is only as good as its enforcement. As animals can’t speak for themselves, they rely on us to stand up for their rights and defend them by reporting cruelty. Familiarizing yourself with the procedures for reporting suspected cases of animal abuse and neglect will help you handle the situation better.
Here are four steps to keep in mind when making a report to the relevant authorities:
Step 1: Observe and Evaluate
Other than the obvious direct violence, it is often difficult to assess whether or not what you have witnessed is considered animal cruelty. The following examples of typical abuse may help you identify the signs to confirm or refute your suspicions.
- Someone intentionally maim, cause physical harm, mutilate or torture an animal.
- Wounds left to fester due to the owner’s negligence.
- Irresponsible owner dumping a pet on a busy road.
- Pets that are frequently confined without proper and sufficient food and water.
- Pets that are kept in cages or chained and left exposed to extreme weather conditions for long hours.
Unfortunately, as long as adequate shelter, food and water are provided, caging or tethering a dog continuously is not considered an offence in Malaysia. You can, however, approach and educate the owner on responsible pet ownership.
Step 2: Documentation
As a witness, the information you provide is a crucial part of the investigation, and can eventually make or break the case. When documenting an abuse, try to be as thorough as possible.
- Collect video or photographic evidence.
- Note down times, dates and everything you have witnessed (type of cruelty suspected, suspect’s car plate number, exact address where the abuse occurred, etc.)
- If there are other witnesses, ask them for their names and contact information.
Please DO NOT:
- Break any laws. Trespassing, assaulting the alleged abuser or removing an animal from another’s property without permission is not only illegal and dangerous, but can also compromise the integrity of the investigation.
Step 3: File a Report
If the perpetrator is behaving aggressively and you or the animal are at risk of immediate harm, contact both the police and the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Malaysia right away. If not, you may file a complaint to the DVS or SPCA Selangor. The officers will usually respond within 48 hours. For more severe cases, supplement your complaint with a police report.
When lodging a report, please DO:
- Keep a record of the name of the officer you spoke to / assigned to the case, the last contacted date and the content of your discussion if any.
- Be factual, clear and concise.
- Provide detailed descriptions of when, where and how it occured, as well as who is involved.
Step 4: Follow Up
Should the alleged abuser be prosecuted, you may be called upon to testify in court. Your testimony can affect the case positively and the relevant parties are more likely to pursue cases with credible witnesses who are willing to cooperate.
In the event that no action is taken within a reasonable period of time, follow up on the status of the investigation and include any changes you notice on how the animal is treated.
Even when you are uncertain whether you have witnessed animal cruelty, you should still make a report. The authorities will then be able to investigate your complaint. If the owner can’t be prosecuted, the officer can at least educate them on the proper treatment of animals and give them a warning. You may be the distressed animal’s only hope. Please don’t look away!
For a quick dos and don’ts guide to preventing animal cruelty, click here.
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The OMG Blog Team