KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 – Authorities are refusing people access to health care for their pets during the nationwide lockdown despite possessing medical letters, a veterinarian claimed.
Veterinarian Anthony Leong Zi Ping from Cheras noted that in other countries with movement restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, pet owners and their dogs were allowed to go out for walks or to seek veterinary care.
“However, furry patients in various parts of Malaysia are being denied appropriate treatments during this long movement control order (MCO) period,” he wrote in a letter to The Star.
Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced recently that vet clinics are allowed to operate during the ongoing fourth phase of MCO, from yesterday until May 12, but strictly on appointment basis. The nationwide partial lockdown was imposed since March 18.
Leong recalled an incident in Penang, where a Pomeranian dog with patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart disease, developed heart failure and needed immediate surgical treatment. The dog received treatment from two clinics in Penang, but a surgery was scheduled in Kuala Lumpur to save the canine’s life.
Bukit Mertajam police allegedly denied an application from the dog owner to travel to Kuala Lumpur for the pet’s treatment, despite having a letter of appointment from the vet.
Leong quoted one of the police officers as allegedly saying to the owner who was “sobbing helplessly”: “It is just a dog. How much did you buy the dog?”
Separately, in Johor Baru, a volunteer was denied passage through a police roadblock when he wanted to get treatment for a seriously sick cat at the nearest vet clinic.
“The clinic was less than a kilometre ahead, but he had to pass through a roadblock to get there. The officers manning the roadblock did not listen to his reason for travelling. Instead, they yelled at him and ordered him to make a U-turn and leave,” said Leong.
The volunteer drove back to the roadblock to explain the critical condition of the cat to police and that the animal needed an X-Ray at the nearest clinic, but it was in vain.
“He begged to be allowed to pass through the roadblock, but no one listened to him and he was chased away like a beggar.”
Leong also wrote about another incident on April 26, where a dog owner was not allowed to go for an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist, despite having an appointment letter.
“His dog suffers from glaucoma, an emergency condition characterised by high pressure in the eyeball. He was told that veterinary service is not an essential service.”
On the other hand, a veterinarian in Johor Baru, who rushed to perform a C-section on a cat having difficulty in giving birth, was also allegedly denied passage.
“Dressed in his veterinary gown, he showed all the veterinary documents to the police officers. However, the police officers did not believe that veterinary clinics were allowed to operate during the MCO period, be it just for an afternoon,” Leong said.
“The vet was not allowed to pass the roadblock. Three kittens died and only one survived.”