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Animal Justice: The Brutality Strays Face at the Hands of Law Enforcement

Just recently, a rather disturbing issue has surfaced. A 69-year-old man was assaulted by Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ) officers for protecting a pack of dogs who seemed to be in distress and were fleeing for safety.

Patrick Khoo, fondly known as uncle Patrick, who was seen (according to CCTV footage) providing the dogs with a safe space, was beaten mercilessly with dog-catching iron rods, punched in the neck and suffered cuts on his wrist.

I was in my factory around 8pm and I heard the dogs that were guarding the premises, barking. 

I saw an unfamiliar group of men in uniform with a truck. They came without explaining anything to me and attacked me for defending my dogs. – Patrick Khoo[1]

Patrick Khoo speaks to reporters after lodging a report at the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters/New Straits Times

Unfortunately, good samaritans are at the short end of the stick in protecting our voiceless, furry friends.

However, this case of animal brutality is not the first of its kind in Malaysia and it’s time that we nipped it in the bud.

Are We Failing Our Furry Friends? 

While most animal cruelty cases involve dogs or cats, there are known cases involving monkeys/The Star

Over the years, Malaysia has seen countless heart-shattering cases of animal abuse. 

Malaysia’s Veterinary Services Department (DVS) found an increase of 10% in animal abuse cases from 2016 (463 cases) to 2017 (510 cases), followed by a 30% increase in abuse in 2018 (662 cases). Additionally, more than 90% of these cases involved dogs and cats[2].

In 2018, Malaysians were horrified when a 42-year-old man (sentenced to 34 months in jail and fined RM40,000), killed a pregnant cat by stuffing it into a laundromat dryer[3].

The accused showed neither respect for the sanctity of life nor regarded that animals too have a right to live. – Roslan Mohd Isa, Selangor Veterinary Services Department prosecuting officer[3]

And just last year in 2022, a man killed a stray dog with a bow and arrow in broad daylight[4].

According to the video, the suspect had trailed the stray dog with his bow and arrow. The suspect did not waste any time to shoot down the poor dog when he got the chance. 

The dog died with the arrow pierced through its face. – Persatuan Haiwan Terbiar (SAFM)[4]

In the recent case of uncle Patrick and his pack of dogs, one of the predators has previous records of assaulting.

I have personally met the assaulter as well in a dialogue session between MBPJ. 

I questioned him before, why it was necessary to show aggression both physically and verbally. He was apologetic back then and said his line of work is a stressful job, one which will test his tolerance and at times, they do face the people being violent to them too.

We left it as that, and 2 weeks later, a video shared with us showed him verbally abusing one feeder in Kota Damansara. Then a few more incidents happened, until the incident with Uncle brought him to fame. – Asther Lau, Pet Care Service Provider and Animal Welfare Activist

Ignorance Leads To Fear, Fear Leads To Hatred, And Hatred Leads To Violence

These violent acts leave us fuming. Nevertheless, we must take the time to understand what drives such violence. 

To get further insight, we spoke to Asther Lau, the co-founder of DP Strays (an animal rescue service), a pet care service provider and an animal welfare activist.

Based on Asther’s experience, she shares with us a few factors contributing to animal abuse:

1. Ignorance and lack of empathy 

A lot of people in Malaysia do not fully understand or appreciate the emotional and physical needs of animals, and may not realize that they are causing harm. To them, animals are possessions – at the bottom level of the pyramid of the animal kingdom, while humans are superior.

2. Psychological issues

Animal abuse has been rampant for many years, but it is rising exponentially since the Covid-19 pandemic. People need an outlet for their frustration and anger. Usually, the weaker, voiceless ones are the victims – became the punching bags of these troubled people.

3. Cultural or societal norm

It’s a culture here for people to resort to harassment and assault first when it comes to animal welfare issues. They would fight first before talking about it. It is also a societal norm that when dealing with stray dogs issues, everyone who advocates for the strays is treated harshly and given no respect.

4. Control or power-driven

In uncle Patrick’s case, this particular worker(the one who assaulted), was known to be quite a driven person. He won an award at the MBPJ’s award ceremony not too long ago. So he probably was given a pretty high KPI to achieve, and with that, he was aggressive and wanted to reach his goals fast. Also being given the title of the team’s leader, power dynamics come into play.

5. Money 

Many breeders neglect their breeding animals just to make money out of their offspring.

A study conducted in 2021 by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (in the UK), it was found that animal abuse cases stemmed from domestic violence and public mental health issues[5].

Another study conducted by the Kuala Lumpur Veterinary Services Department (DVS) found that animal welfare awareness was found to be low due to factors such as lack of knowledge, perception, culture, economy and communication[5].

Fighting The War On Animal Cruelty

In many instances, it seems that the existence of our laws is in vain, especially when society doesn’t adhere to them.

However, animal cruelty is more than just abiding by the law. It’s about the qualities of being humane – treating every living being with kindness and compassion.

But when that is lacking, we must put perpetrators in their place.

In Malaysia, there a few acts protecting the rights of animals such as:

Animal Welfare Act 2015 establishes the Animal Welfare Board, whose role includes monitoring establishments, education on and promotion of animal welfare and providing animal welfare advice to ministers on any matters relating to animal welfare including the prevention of trauma, pain and suffering. The Act also creates a licencing system for specific activities with animals such as transportation and slaughter, as well as a network of animal welfare officers.

Section 29 of the same act states that (1) Any person who (a) cruelly beats, kicks, overloads, tortures or terrifies any animals; commits an office, and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than RM 20,000 and not more than RM100,000.

Our furry friends aren’t the only ones at the hands of abuse and in the case that other animals are harmed, The Wildlife Conservation Act (2010) under Section 38, states that cruelty to wildlife both deliberate and through neglect includes individuals that ‘beats, kicks, infuriates, terrifies, tortures or declaws any wildlife’.

Anyone who commits an offence shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than RM 5,000 and not more than RM 50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both. 

Sometimes, The Law Backfires

Many have regarded uncle Patrick as a hero, who has also lodged a police report. Ironically, the MBPJ surprised us further by lodging a police report on their end, claiming that the uncle “obstructed civil servants from carrying out their duties”[6].

They also claimed that the assault in many ways was a mere accident.

Following his action, the officers were unable to carry out their official duties to catch the stray dogs

In the scuffle, the man was injured after he was accidentally hit by a rod used to catch stray dogs. – Fakhrudin Hamid, Petaling Jaya district police chief[6]

Recent updates tell us that uncle Patrick is set to attend a court hearing, which may result in him being held in detention for almost a whole day.

Uncle is being charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing government officials. If convicted, he may face up to 2 years in jail or a fine of up to RM10,000, or both.

How can justice be served if someone who is assaulted becomes the accused?

This is not a normal assault and battery because they had used weapons against the victim and his dogs. The council must explain why their officers were acting in such a way on the elderly. They must apologise. – Rajesh Nagarajan, lawyer-activist[1]

Paw-ing Our Love On The Strays

Despite our shortcomings, animals have always chosen love above all. From accompanying a homeless person to being a support dog, or simply bringing joy to a home.

We reached out to a few animal lovers who are pet owners, and here’s what they had to say:

Animals are God’s creation as well. If we can’t help them, don’t hurt them. – Chandhirha Jievan Richard, Facilities Planner

People need to get more educated about animals. People often think that animal abuse isn’t serious, that it’s a simple matter. To be honest, not everyone will voice out for animals, and the few who do are indeed special. I believe that animals are a big part of our world, and they don’t deserve to be abused. – Thebaan Nair, Entrepreneur

Additionally, we shouldn’t leave the care of animals up to others and live with ignorance, while assuming that animals live in a perfect world. 

Although animal activists, animal lovers’ associations and veterinarians are making an effort to safeguard the welfare of animals, it is not enough.

The public must be more compassionate towards animals. – Dr Muhammad Razli Abdul Razak,  DVS Regulatory Division director[5]

It’s Not Too Late

It is without a doubt that animals deserve better. In our conversation with Asther, she shared a few ways to foster an animal-loving community:

1. Education and Training

With compulsory refresher courses for respective officers to stay up to date with the latest technologies, ideas and methods to adopt an effective approach. 

2. Develop Clear Policies and Sops

The council body can create clear policies and procedures outlining the expected behaviour of their workers and the consequences of abusive or violent behaviours. These policies should be communicated clearly to all workers and enforced consistently. Abuse and harassment should never be done to both people or animals.

3. Foster A Positive Culture

A positive culture can promote teamwork, open communication, and a shared commitment to the well-being of animals. This can result in better collaboration between council officers, improved morale, and a greater sense of responsibility for the animals in their care.

A positive culture can also lead to better relationships with the public, as council officers who feel valued and supported are more likely to treat members of the public with respect and compassion. This can encourage members of the public to report stray animals and work collaboratively with council officers to resolve issues related to stray animals in a more humane approach.

Animal welfare awareness can be increased through a shift in attitude, using the participatory approach with animals, empathetic communication and exposure to such awareness from a young age. – Dr Syamira Syazuana Zaini, Universiti Putra Malaysia veterinary officer[5]

4. Accountability

Leaders in the council body must hold their workers accountable for any abusive or violent behaviour. This may involve disciplinary action, re-training, or termination of employment. Leaders must also be willing to listen to complaints and take appropriate action to address any concerns.

If you ever encounter cases of animal brutality, please speak up. Our animals cannot speak for themselves.

You can stand up for them by:

  • Recording the incident and gathering strong evidence in forms of videos or photos and reporting animal cruelty. 
  • Calling the hotline 016 266 2007 (Whatsapp Only) for Persatuan Haiwan Terbiar Malaysia (SAFM) to help in reporting cruelty cases. Alternatively, you can file a report online here.
  • You can also lodge an animal abuse report to the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) by completing the form and attaching images at or downloading this form and sending it to

Explore Our Sources

  1. Teh, A.Y, & Asha, S. (2023). Man attacked by MBPJ officers lodges police report. Link
  2. Athira, N. (2021). Animal Cruelty On The Rise In Malaysia. Link
  3. New Straits Times. (2019). Laundromat cat killer jailed 34 months and fined RM40,000. Link
  4. Ragananthini, V. (2022). Man who killed stray dog with arrow must be caught, say animal rights groups. Link
  5. The Star. (2021). Animal cruelty still rampant, says dept. Link.
  6. Rex, T. (2023). Report: Senior citizen allegedly assaulted by MBPJ officers during stray dog round-up now under police probe. Link

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