At the beginning of September 2016, the Malacca State Government implemented a regulation prohibiting residents in the intermediate units of terrace houses from rearing dogs. With the implementation, current dog owners will then be forced to put up their pet dogs for adoption.
This is a rare and extreme regulation which limits the freedom of homeowners when compared to other more developed countries in the west, which have more feasible regulations. Governments in those countries provide education to guide residents who keep pet dogs in their homes, be it in apartments, terraces, bungalows and others. There are also many independent institutions which help educate the owners about how to take care of their pets to minimise problems.
In Malaysia, there are no such initiatives, causing a series of problems between the residents who own and do not own dogs.
Issues of cleanliness, noise and strays
The main purpose of implementing the regulation is to solve the complaints of other residents about their neighbours’ dogs.
One of the major problems, cleanliness, is usually caused by pet owners who do not clean and manage the waste from their dogs properly. This causes a stench that affects other neighbours. The waste could also cause the growth of bacteria and the spread of viruses, causing diseases and endangering the health of other residents.
Noise is also a common issue revolving around the issue of dog-ownership in homes. There is no controlling when and why dogs bark, there are some that could bark all day till nightfall, disturbing the sleep of residents at night. On another note, it is not realistic to expect dogs to be silent the entire day.
Other than that, there are also owners who let their dogs out of the compounds of their home, allowing them to stray outside without monitoring them. Hence, there are cases where some of those dogs attack other residents, causing a fear dogs amongst those in the neighbourhood. Given the threat, some residents are forced to complain to the authorities to ensure their own safety.
Tolerance and communication
Most residents lack tolerance, which is one of the main reasons for continuous complaints. The lack of communication between homeowners also prevents an understanding between those who own dogs and this who do not. So when any issue arises, most residents do not come face-to-face with their neighbours to reach a consensus and solve the problem. As there are many people living in the same residential area, it is inevitable that some friction and misunderstanding may occur.
Hence, residents should meet and calmly let their problems be known to their neighbour(s) in question. If the problem cannot be solved, then only should an official complaint should be submitted to the relevant authorities in order to get a fair ruling.
It is also important to be fair and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of keeping dogs, without merely focusing on the negative aspects of and ignoring their contributions. With that, it is best to make a fairer judgement instead of imposing such an extreme regulation which altogether, prohibits residents from rearing dogs in their intermediate homes.
Banning dogs - a temporary solution which breeds more concerns
Most people are in the opinion that the measure is too extreme, denying the freedom of homeowners to keep pets in their own homes as well as putting the lives of pets at risk. There is also a general concern that once the Malacca state government implements the rule, other state governments will follow suit.
A better long-term solution would be for the government to focus on strengthening the basic awareness of dog owners and ensure that they know the importance of basic training for dogs, rather than banning homeowners from keeping dogs in intermediate units. The government can hold seminars, and implement a rule where dog owners must attend the talks in order to continue keeping their dogs. Dog-owners should also be aware of maintaining a clean environment and reducing the transmission of diseases. The assistance of non-governmental groups can also be sought by the government in efforts to educate dog owners.
With that, there will not be a need for such a drastic rule. The implementation of the rule may cause the number of strays to soar due to the problem of abandonment if residents dispose of their dogs in the wrong way. When that happens, the government might have to spend more money solving the problem of stray dogs.
The lack of tolerance towards dogs could also diminish the awareness of protecting animals, affecting the perception of future generations as well. Moreover, the state's income will be directly affected should all intermediate homeowners be banned from keeping dogs.
Owners are required to pay a license fee of between RM10 or RM50 per year to keep their dog licences valid. Should dogs be forbidden in the many households across the state, the government could lose this source of income.
Proper training and nurture ensure that dogs bring more good than harm
The ruling to ban dogs also does not take into account the various reasons and needs for people to keep pet dogs. One of the most common reasons for owning dogs in homes is safety. In these times of high crime rates, many residents have chosen to keep dogs in order to protect the safety of their homes and their families. Though having a dog does not ensure complete security, they ensure a better peace of mind to residents.
Hence, the complete ban of dogs does not take into account that when trained right, dogs are able to do good for residents or society, as seen in cases of guide-dogs for the blind, search and rescue dogs etc. and even, in this case, being a slight but much needed deterrence to criminals.
All in all, dogs can bring more good than harm if they are raised in the right way. With proper training and nurture, it is possible to provide a warm home for dogs, and at the same time, avoid unnecessary friction with neighbours.
Education for homeowners of intermediate terrace units as well as proper training for their pet dogs are better efforts in ensuring that their freedom to have dogs within their own landed property is preserved, while also being fair to their neighbours and those who live in the neighbourhood. These efforts are a better way of finding middle ground, rather than resorting to the drastic measure of completely banning dogs from intermediate terrace units, which could also breed more problems in the future.
Tell us what is your take with regards of the ruling below!
(Translated by: Jake Yeoh, 11th October 2016)
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