THREE cheers! Finally, the long awaited Animal Welfare Bill 2015 has been passed to provide legal protection and safeguards to animals.

Going by the many comments in the social media, the public, especially animal lovers, are happy and relieved to learn of the good news.

Kudos to the government for keeping its promises and a big thank you to all the members of parliament who supported the bill. Once the new law is passed, it is time to organise roadshows and campaigns to create public awareness.

This is where animal welfare organisations and animal lovers can play their part by joining hands with the authorities in carrying out these campaigns.

We should use all available public communication channels — radio, TV, newspapers, social media, etc. — to reach out to the people.

When the public is well informed of the act, we have won half the battle against animal abuse and cruelty.

The media should continue its good work in highlighting animal-related issues with focus on the newly-introduced legislation.

However, we cannot depend entirely on the new act to prevent animal abuse and cruelty. There is a need for a well-organised animal welfare education programme for the public, especially pet owners.

We should consider setting up “Animal Education Centres” (AECs), which would provide free animal welfare education, hands-on clinics in animal handling and rehabilitation.

These AECs should be open to the public with fun-filled programmes to attract children, youths and others.

The AECs can also play a role in providing training for enforcement officers and for the rehabilitation of animal criminals (educating them on how to properly care for animals) if mandated by the courts. Ideally, AECs should be run by reputable animal welfare organisations, with the support and cooperation of the relevant authorities.

Alternatively, the authorities should consider introducing animal welfare and care as a subject in primary and secondary schools.

Universities, too, should look into offering it as an elective subject for undergraduates.

S. Param, Ipoh, Perak

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