PUTRAJAYA - Shooting of stray dogs and other animals will be banned if the proposed Animal Welfare Bill is passed with all the suggestions intact.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said shooting was "an inhumane act" and there had been too many complaints over the mistreatment of stray dogs.
"Generally, the ministry does not condone nor support such acts," he said. "However, there is a need to include a clause in the Bill for exceptions, such as in an emergency or for disease control," he said in an interview.
Banning the shooting of animals is one of several proposals under the Bill, which Chua described as "a stepping stone to strengthen the welfare and protection of animals".
He said the ministry would hold an Open Day on June 19 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang to gather feedback from the public, NGOs and other stakeholders on how best to improve the Bill.
"Aside from imposing fines and jail terms for offences related to animal welfare, we are also looking into introducing deterrent measures in the Bill," he said.
"These include disqualifying a person from keeping pets to prevent the offence from being repeated."
Chua said the Bill would cover all animals, including domesticated pets, livestock and zoo animals.
"Part of the Bill also outlines the responsibility of pet owners. This is subject to debate and as such, we welcome suggestions from the public at the Open Day," he said.
So as to have a closer working relationship with the public on the issue, Chua said the Bill would also allow people to assist the ministry's officers in eradicating animal cruelty.
"They will not have the same powers and jurisdiction as the officers but they can keep an eye on behalf of the ministry," he said.
Chua said the Bill would be ready for tabling only after obtaining clarification from the Attorney-General's Chambers.
"However, while waiting for the Bill to be ready, the existing Animal Act 1953 will be amended to impose heavier penalties for animal cruelty," he said, adding that the ministry hoped to table these changes this year.
Soon, those found guilty could be fined up to RM50,000, a year's jail term, or both. Currently, the maximum fine is RM200, a jail term of not more than six months, or both.