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Why feeding strays is discouraged

LOCAL authorities and animal welfare groups have a clear “No Feeding” policy when it comes to strays.
They say the open availability of food will only encourage strays to breed, compounding the problem of unwanted animals and causing a nuisance.
Feeders are also being blamed for messing up the surroundings as the common practice is to throw the food on the ground and let the animals help themselves.
The uneaten leftovers attract flies and, in some cases, maggots, all ideal vectors for diseases, say health authorities.
Another issue bothering the public is the smell of animal excreta where strays are known to congregate because whatever goes in, must eventually come out.
This is no trifling matter for the public who have to endure the odour.
An auxiliary police officer with a bank in Bangsar told me he had developed the rather unhealthy habit of skipping lunch, his appetite lost, no thanks to the smell blowing in from a nearby illegal dog shelter.
Closer to home, I am no longer on such warm terms with a neighbour, who is a generous donor when it comes to nurturing the condominium’s stray population.
This was after I uttered a loud comment that people who feed stray cats should also stick around to clear up their waste, often deposited at the lift lobby for all to smell.
A close relative of mine has a soft spot for animals but she lives in an apartment and cannot have pets.
Whenever we eat out, she would ask for a doggy bag. Lucky is the street cat or dog who comes to our table for it will be fed on food scraps.
For this, she has to endure constant chastisements by her dining partners for attracting all manner of strays to our table.
Once we came across the pitiful sight of an undernourished dog, its rib cage sticking out as its reedy legs limped painfully to our table.
Despite the restaurant owner’s insistence on shooing it away, this relative insisted that it stayed long enough to eat something.
She is often told off by family members for dirtying restaurant floors with food scraps.
The volume of discontent gets louder if the plastic bags of leftover food she has collected leak gravy onto their vehicle upholstery.
But my relative cares not for these protests.
Because, when she gets the food to the stray dogs residing at a plot of vacant land beside her condominium in Puchong, she is rewarded by their happy faces and wagging tails.
As she describes it, one of her canine friends is known for wagging its tail so furiously, it looks like it is doing a shoulder shimmy.
Feeders insist on doing what they do, citing compassion and animal welfare as reasons.
But if they want to be do-gooders, they must then carry their good deeds through without leaving others to deal with the aftermath.
Don’t just dump food on the ground. Use proper receptacles. Don’t leave right after a food delivery. Stick around and clean up the mess of strewn food scraps and yes, scoop up the waste too, please.
Feeders can also go further by identifying which animals need spaying to control the stray population.
Even better, find them good homes.
At the end of the day, feeders should realise that animals become strays largely because of irresponsible pet ownership.
Until people fully understand that pets cannot be discarded like broken toys or that the tragedy of unwanted animals can be simply prevented by a visit to the vet, the problem remains.
Feeders are sometimes a stray animal’s last chance at finding a safe haven where it can spend the rest of its life in the caring comfort of a loving owner.
Whether they realise it or not, feeders can do more than just bring a stray its daily meal.
They can play an important role in easing the suffering of abandoned animals.
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