PUTRAJAYA: Animal abusers beware. Those who are found guilty under the new Animal Welfare Act 2015 (Act 772) can be fined a maximum of RM100,000 or three years' imprisonment. Or both.
The new Act was announced by Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek this afternoon.
"We have officially implemented the new Animal Welfare Act (Act 772) effective July 1," he said during a special announcement ceremony at his ministry.
Also present were the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam, actress Sariyanti and animal activists from various associations, including Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals (SPCA).
Aimed at fostering a more responsible pet ownership among Malaysians, the Animal Welfare Act 2015 requires all pet owners to be fully responsible for the well-being of the animals under their care, which includes proper lodging, healthcare and diet.
"Under this Act, those who are found guilty of abusing the animals - either by kicking or pouring hot water on them, will be fined a minimum of RM20,000 and court action," warned Ahmad Shabery.
"The strong message that we are trying to send across to people is 'Do not abuse the animals' because we are a civilised society," he said.
Ahmad Shabery also announced the appointment of the Animal Welfare Board, made up of his senior ministry officials, the DVS, the Fisheries Department, the Wildlife Department, vets, local councils, academicians from local veterinary faculties, Health Ministry, Education Ministry and animal activists.
The nine-member board is spearheaded by Dr Quaza.
With the new Animal Welfare Act, all animal-related business, including boarding services, must be properly licensed.
According to Dr Quaza, more than 400 enforcement officers have been appointed, comprising veterinary officers and related government officers, who will be given an authority card as the animal welfare officers.
"The NGOs can also join us as pet rescuers on voluntary basis," Dr Quaza said. "We will act a day after receiving any reports on animal abuse cases.
"The new act will be implemented widely in Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan. Sabah and Sarawak, which have their own state laws, have agreed to include 90 percent the Animal Welfare Act into their state enactment."