BERITA DAILY LETTER: From Anthony Thanasayan, via e-mail

We refer to Star Metro report, “Injured dogs from MDDB safe from euthanasia” (Metro News, Saturday, 7 April, 2018).

First of all, the title about “euthanasia” is most misleading.

It appears to demonise its true purpose and value for the animal rather than educate the public about what it is.

“Euthanasia” literally means “good death”. An animal is put down within a mere two or three seconds by a qualified veterinary doctor to take away its pain and end its suffering.

Unlike the report, it is administered not only for animals “suffering from end-stage cancer” but for other reasons as well. These include a wide range of other incurable diseases such as the liver, kidneys etc.

Dogs and cats are also put down in local councils when re-homing attempts have failed and there are no other viable options available.

Owners who are unable to look after their pets when they become old and disabled (including the owner) are left with little choice but to part with their animals in kindest way possible.

Re-homing doesn’t work when the pet is unable to settle down with a new owner. Some of them stay off food and die as a result.

The owners themselves who either become disabled through a stroke or go overseas can’t bear to wonder if the new owner would care for their pet as much as they did.

In such circumstances, the kindest alternative would be to resort to euthanasia.

So euthanasia is truly a Godsend in such difficult circumstances – and not just for terminally ill animals.

We do not support keeping disabled dogs alive unless a veterinarian okays it. But then again, the animals should visit the veterinarian often and regularly for follow up treatment.

Another consideration is the quality and status of veterinary care in Malaysia which is still basic compared to overseas countries where disabled dogs have access to veterinarians who are specialised in animal rehabilitation rather than a normal vet.

Disabled dogs need extra special care as their conditions will only deteriorate over time. They will need daily hydrotherapy (swimming) to prevent muscle atrophy, special medication to treat pressure sores to keep away deadly infections that normal dogs don’t face – the list is endless.

Finally, injured and handicapped dogs need privacy and peace to live out their years. They should never be exploited by anyone – let by animal welfare groups for donations from the public by carting the animals for display at their fundraising events.

To use handicapped dogs in such a way so is a most unethical practice anywhere in the world that will not be tolerated.

They also make a mockery of disabilities and disabled people by trying to trivialise handicapping conditions which is an affront to people with disabilities.

Without strict and constant supervision by a panel of professional veterinarians, disabled dogs will only be further neglected, abused and rot away in undignified deaths whether it be in personal homes or animal shelters.

The Department of Veterinary Services should investigate NGOs that exploit disabled animals in this way, as well as those that use rescued animals for NGO fundraising.

Anthony Thanasayan is the president of Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (PETPOSITIVE) .