Thursday March 14, 2013
Fire Department's decision to put eight K9 unit dogs to sleep sparks outrage among animal lovers
PETALING JAYA: The Fire and Rescue Department has euthanised eight of its sniffer and detection dogs, drawing flak from animal lovers.
The incident came to light after the department's K9 Unit announced the euthanasia on its Facebook page and posted pictures of the dogs being put to sleep.
Its corporate management division assistant director-general Sobberi Basiran said the dogs were put down last week based on advice from the K9 Unit's panel of veterinarians from the Veterinary Services Department.
“The dogs were not as alert as before and some of them had issues such as degenerating kidneys,” he said, adding that the dogs were already 10 years old, which was equivalent to 55 or 58 in human age.
The K9 Unit, added Sobberi, was in the process of acquiring new dogs, adding that this was also the reason for the eight dogs to be euthanised.
“It was also for economic reasons as we did not want to incur double costs in maintaining the dogs,” he said.
Sobberi said there were provisions in the Treasury's orders, under which the dogs were considered as the nation's living assets, for them to be put up for adoption upon retirement.
Asked why the department did not put the dogs up for adoption, Sobberi reiterated that the K9 unit had followed the veterinarians' advice.
The dogs, which were of various breeds, had been trained to search for victims during urban disasters and cadavers on land and water.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung said he would find out why the department had euthanised the animals instead of re-homing them.
“I think it's unfair to put them to sleep without valuing their services to the nation,” said Chor, adding that he himself was disturbed after reading about the dogs' euthanasia from social media sites.
“I immediately asked the department for an explanation. I was told the dogs were very old and some of them were sick but I will still look into the matter,” he said.
Canine advocacy and welfare group Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB) said the department's action was reflective of a lack of empathy for dogs here.
“The dogs would have found homes immediately if the department had taken the initiative to announce that they were being retired and put up for adoption,” said its rescue coordinator Irene Low.
It would be easy to re-home these canines as dog lovers had adopted much older animals, which were maimed, blind or even deaf, Low pointed out.
Furry Friends Farm president Myza Nordin said the department should have reached out to animal welfare groups.
“Their illustrious careers should not have tragically ended with euthanasia,” she said.