Buddhist rites for slain dogs

by NURADZIMMAH DAIM, The Malay Mail, July 11, 2006

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia -- THE 'Unlucky 13' were given their final rites yesterday.   The 13 dogs, shot dead by the Seremban Municipal Council (MPS) last month after their owner refused to comply with the council's order to relocate the canines, received prayers at a ceremony organised by animal lovers, last night.

More than 200 members of Malaysia Fo Guang Shan, a Buddhist organisation, gathered at their branch in SS3, Petaling Jaya, to offer prayers for the dogs.

One of its members, Ong Wan Kah, said the prayer, known as the Diamond Repentance Dharma ceremony, is to transfer merits to the dogs.

"Although we usually have this prayer twice a month, tonight's occasion is special. We want to let the public know that it is not right to just take away the lives of animals.

"Also, apart from the dogs that were killed, we are also performing prayers for the chickens and birds that died of bird flu, and other animals," said Ong, who works with the organisation's publishing division.

He stressed, however, that the prayer was not only meant for the deceased. "We also pray for others beings that are still alive, for fortune and good luck," he said.

Ong said 66-year-old Eng Her Sun, the owner of the 13 dogs, had stepped forward to relate the incident to the organisation's abbot, Reverend Hui Xian, last Wednesday.

The abbot advised him not to dwell on the matter and carry on with life.

"The abbot also advised him not to bear any grudges and instead, think of ways to help relocate his remaining dogs. The owner must also shoulder his responsibility as the municipal council is the authority on the matter," he said.

Also present at the prayers was Malaysian Animal Welfare Foundation education officer, Sabrina Yeap.

In the June 29 incident, MPS workers, armed with a court order, arrived at Eng's terrace house in Taman Desa Rasah to cull his dogs.

They claimed that Eng, who kept 26 dogs in his house, had repeatedly ignored the council's notices over six months to relocate his dogs as their incessant barking and smell had become a nuisance to neighbours.

The workers allege that Eng refused to co-operate and the dogs turned aggressive when they entered the compound.

Eng allegedly put 13 dogs in his car and drove off. The workers then shot the remaining 13.

The move by MPS was described by barbaric and cruel by animal welfare organisations. However, other groups have argued that the council had no choice as Eng did not comply with regulations despite being given time to do so.

Several animal groups, including the Independent Pet Rescuers organisation, have since helped Eng relocate 11 of his dogs to a farm in Dengkil.