Sixteen-year-old. Loves life sciences and literature.
Two of rescued dogs at the Jakarta Animal Aid Network. (JAAN/File)
Like any metropolitan city, Jakarta is facing a rampant stray animal problem. There are millions of dogs and cats roaming the streets of the city, multiplying like the plague. Animals that are abandoned by irresponsible owners find themselves thriving on the leftover food thrown away by many Jakartans.
Living on the streets is ugly. Aside from running the risk of spreading diseases and attacking young children, most stray animals make Jakarta their home live for a brief and miserable period of time. They die either of starvation, get killed by an outbreak of diseases or get run over by the millions of cars and motorcycles in Jakarta.
The life of a stray animal is not as dignified as wild animals typically featured in shows aired by National Geographic. In short, their lives are not pretty.
At the end of last year, the Jakarta administration decided to implement a new law stating that all stray animals would be rounded up by officials to be vaccinated, neutered and taken to a shelter in Ragunan to be adopted.
This caused an outcry among animal lovers in Jakarta. Within minutes of the announcement, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) warned owners to keep their pets off the streets. Videos circulating of officers catching the animals using nets and cages caused an outcry.
Finally, in early January, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan responded to the problem by postponing the program, stating that he would be work with animal lovers in the future to find a better solution to solve the stray problem.
Within weeks, the situation had died down and society moved on. Nobody seemed to remember that the problem still remained and a solution had yet to be formulated.
Globally, there have been many solutions to solve the stray animal problem. There are several organizations that round up stray animals and take them to shelters. Some organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) believe that euthanizing the animals is the best way to stop this. Other organizations believe in trap neuter, release (TNR) where they catch the animals, vaccinate, sterilize them and release them back to where they were found.
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Each of these methods have their own pros and cons. For example, some people have argued that the method used by PETA is cruel. They believe that one day somebody might come and adopt one of those animals. But the reality is that the waiting list at shelters remain long and there are more animals coming in than animals coming out. The older the animal, the less a chance of it making it out of the shelter and smaller and cuter animals are always preferred. It makes sense to euthanize these animals who do not have a fighting chance against thousands of cuter younger animals. Perhaps bliss is better than living a miserable life behind bars, because that is not a life.
Others also argue that the TNR method takes a lot of work. The action of going back and forth itself would require a lot of time and funds. The animal in question might also be under a lot of stress after being captured. Society do not generally appreciate stray animal being brought back to the same location where they were found.
But whatever the method, the government should to try and keep stray animals under control because it will never avoid the fact that humans and animals need to coexist. Unlike wild animals, strays are born to share the city with us. In a sense, they have evolved alongside us. We must learn how to live with them and accept that they are not going to go away anytime soon.
Of course, we cannot solve the stray problem. But we can acknowledge the fact that the problem exists. And together, we can create a proper solution that will satisfy everybody using a combination of existing solutions so that the disadvantages cancel out each other. (kes)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.