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Saturday, September 22, 2007

WHEEL POWER: By ANTHONY THANASAYAN

Click here for Video Footage of MPS Man Assaulting Animal Lover
See SideBar for links to articles in the news on this issue
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Laudable move
Wheel Power: By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
Extracted from The Star

Animal lovers everywhere were relieved when the Selayang Municipal Council called off its dog catching competition due to pressure from the public.

WHAT a sweet victory it was last Friday for animal-loving Malaysians everywhere. The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS), which had been headstrong for the past couple of weeks about its controversial

Members of the public were particularly unhappy that attractive cash prizes were being offered, instead of inculcating positive values about responsible animal ownership and love for animals.
The decision was reached at a meeting held at the MPS headquarters in Bandar Baru Selayang, Selangor. The meeting was attended by representatives of five animal welfare and rights groups. The NGOs were joined by the various representatives of local residents in Selayang, as well as MPS council officials.

The animal rights groups present were the Selangor Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Rights and Welfare Society (Roar), the Malaysian Association for Responsible Pet Ownership (Marpo), and the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive).

Also present was another ad hoc group called the Coalition of Animal Lovers of Malaysia (Calm). Formed immediately after the MPS dog-catching contest, Calm was there to oppose the competition.

As president of Petpositive, I was the only representative in wheelchair among 40 others invited to the meeting.

The moment I arrived at the venue, I was confronted with a set of obstacles, which I had to overcome, before getting into the meeting room. Although there were at least two parking lots for disabled drivers, there was no one whom I could ask for assistance. Some of the officers who passed by did not even bother to ask if I needed help.

There was no way they would not have known I was a disabled person, unless they were blind themselves. Not only is my car plastered with disabled stickers all over, but I was parked in the MPS disabled lot. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait long. I was soon joined by my animal rights activist chums who got my wheelchair out of the car and helped me into it in no time.
The meeting was held on the first floor, and I had to be carried up two flights of steps that were steep and dangerous to attend it.

What I couldn’t understand was why the meeting was not held in the wheelchair-friendly newer building which was only a stone’s throw away. After all, it was plain as day that Petpositive had the words “disabled” and “elderly” in it. Or is it because people today still view the world in terms of stereotypes? And that disabled people are only seen in handicapped homes, hospitals or hospices, instead of in offices, shopping centres and the meeting rooms of local council buildings?

Just when I thought I would be locked out of the meeting room, a couple of my animal rights friends did a wonderful thing. N. Surendran, from Roar, and Natasha Fernz, from Calm, went upstairs to the meeting room and argued my case until, lo and behold, the venue was moved to the wheelchair-accessible building next door so that I could attend!

Later, I heard that one or two of the invited guests were peeved with me for making them switch venues. They even remarked that I was being too demanding and that I was expecting the world to treat me “special” because of my handicap. However, the morning ended on an extraordinary note. I left the premises with the good news that stray dogs in Selayang would be treated with respect from now on.

I have learnt a lesson from my animal activist friends, too. Sometimes in life, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. It’s called: Standing up for yourself.

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Thanks Anthony for a great article... in light of all that has happened, we would have still fought for you in a heartbeat... This incident really shows the mentality of the people who thought of the dog catching competition in the first place. While I do believe that the stray population has to be curbed, I really hope everyone understands Why the Dog Catching Competition had to stop, and that there are more humane methods of curbing the stray population.

2 comments:

Sophie Brador said...

I'm so relieved they called this ridiculous competition off. I can't believe they came up with it in the first place. It's so absurd.

Bravo to all of you who fought so hard!!!!

Wandernut said...

:) Good stuff!

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