Pet Activists Encourage Adoption of Stray Animals

By webadmin on 09:45 am Jun 26, 2012
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Dian Paramita

Early last month, an underfed Doberman was found tied to a fence in Sentul, Bogor, where it had been abandoned by its owner. Several months later, a golden retriever was found in a cage after its owner, a former breeder, decided to leave it there.

Animal Friends Jogja, a community of animal lovers based in Yogyakarta, also found a Persian cat abandoned by its owner outside a porch. The cat’s story went viral on the online community website Kaskus, which urged people to petition for its rescue. Animal Friends Jogja printed the petition and showed it to the neighborhood leader, who helped release the cat.

Every day, cats and dogs are left on highways in Jakarta and throughout Indonesia, often in danger of being run over by a vehicle. Pets are abused by their owners and become strays, leading to overpopulation. But their mistreatment also stems from the behavior of irresponsible breeders, pet shops and the government.

People should know that buying pets from pet shops or street vendors actually makes the problem worse. That’s because stores and vendors often receive their animals from breeders who prioritize profit over the animals’ well-being.

These breeders force kennels to continue mating dogs and cats until old age, and then the animals are killed or abandoned once they can no longer reproduce. Their babies, as young as eight weeks old, are sold to pet shops or customers at street markets. They keep producing more pets, which leads to more stray animals.

These animals don’t escape mistreatment at pet shops, where they are often forced to live in small wire cages that are filthy and unhealthy. The animals lack proper veterinary care, making them vulnerable to illness, and because they cannot socialize with people or other animals, they often develop fearful or aggressive behavior.

In some cases the abuse continues when the animals are sold. Some owners buy a pet but then get bored with it and just leave it caged and alone until it dies. Other owners breed their pets for sale, but they often do so irresponsibly and without regard for the importance of sterilization or animal welfare.

Animal rights activists argue that this problem does not receive the attention it deserves from the government, especially from the local Department of Animal Husbandry (Dinas Peternakan).

Some have accused the government of using improper means to solve the issue of stray animals, such as slaughtering dogs or cats considered to be stray and disturbing local communities. Some officials reportedly catch stray animals and bring them to shelters, where they are mistreated until they often get sick and die.

Some animal rights activists have attempted to protest the government, but their main priority is rescuing animals. So what can the rest of us do?

The Pets Movement campaign in Indonesia tries to dissuade people from buying pets, instead encouraging them to adopt stray animals from the street or local shelters. The campaign, which is focused on unethical breeders and pet shops, urges people to ask the government to pay more attention to animal welfare.

Many animal breeders and sellers misunderstand the meaning of adoption. Adoption is not about purchasing and selling animals, but about caring for abandoned pets. It is supposed to be free, though new owners may have to pay for sterilization or vaccination. To find caring owners, shelters usually go through a tight survey and selection process.

To spread the word about this campaign, the Pets Movement also holds a monthly Pets Adoption Night in Yogyakarta. The event, which I help organize, brings together representatives from two shelters who teach people about pets and encourage adoption.

The Pets Movement has received much positive feedback from the public. It has also started a blog at petsmovement.wordpress.com and a Twitter account @PetsMovement.

In the words of Temple Grandin, an autistic American doctor and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, “nature is cruel but we don’t have to be.”

Count Me In is a volunteer initiative created by BeritaSatu Media Holdings that aims to connect like-minded people with meaningful causes in Jakarta and across Indonesia.

For more information, visit thejakartaglobe.com/pages/countmein or follow @CountMeInID on Twitter.