JOHOR BARU, Malaysia––Johor Baru central municipal council president Sallehuddin Hassan on June 17, 2014 acknowledged to Malaysia Star reporter Desiree Tresa Gasper that city staff had killed 1,181 street dogs in the first five months of 2014, after killing 2,524 dogs in 2013 and 2,345 in 2012.
The killings came to light after Johor Baru resident G. Suhanthan, 28, videotaped plainclothes law enforcement personnel bludgeoning dogs to death on June 5, 2014 behind a warehouse in Jalan Makmar, Skudai.
Calling the bludgeoning “a terrible mistake,” Sallehuddin Hassan suspended dogcatching operations on June 12, but said the municipal government had received more than 1,400 complaints about stray dogs in the preceding 30 months. “It is a tough job that our enforcement team has volunteered to do, as catching dogs is not part of their official duties,” Sallehuddin Hassan said.
“It is believed that the department in charge of stray dogs had found it hard to obtain supplies for [lethal] injection,” Gasper wrote. “Checks at the warehouse where the culling took place showed no signs that it was still being conducted. However, dogs could be heard barking within the premises, while enforcement officers were seen entering the warehouse area.”
Johor Baru central municipal council member Tan Tuan Peng called for reinstituting the use of lethal injection.
Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue president T. Puspa Rani called for prosecution of the officials responsible for the dog killings, as did Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan.
“While there is outrage at the council’s barbarism,” Khan said, “it is not surprising given that most councils employ torturous means of dealing with strays, including shooting, starving, bludgeoning and even drowning.”
The controversy over the dog killing followed several years of furor over shootings of urbanized macaques. The macaques invaded Johor Bari after city officials culled about 10,000 dogs in 2006. A similar cycle of increasing complaints about macaques came after a comparable dog massacre in 2002.