LETTER | Many of us did not know Uncle Patrick Khoo until the CCTV clip was viralled by a netizen. Since he was charged in court, a group of animal lovers calling itself “Justice for Uncle Khoo” was kickstarted.
It is sad that street dogs are placed under the vector disease list together with rats and mosquitoes by all local councils, which allow them to be exterminated in the interest of public safety.
However, not many people know that rescuers and feeders are keeping our street dogs healthy and calm by neutering, vaccinating with rabies vaccine and feeding them well.
They understand that these homeless dogs, if not controlled, can become overpopulated and a nuisance to the community. Keeping their stomach full and healthy means they do not roam about and getting into fights, rummaging bins and begging for food from the public.
In short, these dog rescuers and feeders are part of the solution in keeping our community safe and, at the same time, reducing the street dog population.
Translated into statistics, this means there will be fewer dogs roaming in the next few years due to neutering.
Vaccinating the dog against rabies also means that the probability of its transmission to humans and other dogs will be substantially reduced.
What is sad is that, instead of being supported, these individuals are blamed and vilified by many for letting these dogs roam about, even though the dogs are just minding their own business, sitting quietly at the far end of the street.
Some, like elderly man Uncle Patrick Khoo, who takes care of the dogs at his office at night, are an integral part of the rescuer and feeder community. As such, he should be supported for his contribution to the society.
Any complaints from the local residents must be dealt with in a respectful and sensitive manner. Instead, what we have seen in Uncle Khoo’s case is that his tireless sacrifices are not recognised and his dogs were deemed guilty without solid evidence. The law seems to provide some sort of immunity to the local council dog catchers.
It was clear from the video that Uncle Khoo was merely protecting his dogs from getting hurt by the dog catchers. This response is a reflex to an oncoming danger, and not to inflict pain or damage to the dog catchers.
During this incident, Uncle Khoo, who was unarmed and alone, was injured, sustaining swollen jaw and cheek, and cuts to his wrist. The dog catchers from Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) who were mainly young men and armed with metal rods did not suffer from any injury.
Instead of being civil, Uncle Khoo is facing charges under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing public servants in the discharge of their public functions. One would be wondering who is committing the assault.
Is Uncle Khoo wrong to protect the dogs that he loves? Is Uncle Khoo the villain? Since the case went viral, the dog rescuer community was enraged by this news.
They gathered in solidarity to rally behind Uncle Khoo during his first court appearance. They felt the injustice from this lawsuit, the realisation that hits the rescuers that they are unappreciated, vilified, and belittled. Deafening silence from the political and community leaders is disheartening.
This is devastating to the rescuer community; many may give up rescuing and some may go into deep mental and psychological turmoil on how to manage these homeless dogs. This is simply a crisis in the making.
DR KARTINI FARAH ABDUL RAHIM is a member of animal rights group Hak Asasi Hidupan Liar Malaysia.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.