Because about half of the Malaysian population are Muslim, dogs are automatically a race and religion issue.
Some counsels have banned dog ownership completely in their areas. Then there are the press stories about other counsel anti-dog incidents:
There was the time when counsel people shot a pet dog in the owner's garden. Then there was the therapy dog that was shot. And the counsel that started a dog killing competition. And the counsel that strangles dogs rather then euthanising them humanely. And this is all in the last year, and is only the tip of the iceberg.
Every time one of these stories comes out, there are many Malaysians from all races and religions who protest bitterly.
In places where counsels are elected, people could vote out people they don't approve of. But in Malaysia counsel officials are not elected; they are appointed by state officials. State officials are elected on a 5 year basis. As such, you can get counsel people who work hard and are in touch with what locals want, or you may get some bum who is in a position of power because he or she pulled some strings.
Anyhow, the people in my area protested vigorously this week when one of our council people gave a press interview and said that all dogs should be leashed, muzzled and kept out of all public places. He said he was sending his people around to confiscate any dogs being taken for a walk by their owners without a muzzle and leash. You can read his statement here.
After a public outcry, our elected official for our area says dogs need not be muzzled, and a government official has said dogs will not be confiscated, although owners of certain banned/restricted breeds will be asked where they got their pets, and monitored to see if they are controlling their dogs properly.
There is *GASP* a hint that officials may consider a dog-friendly park for the thousands of voters in our area who have pets!!!!!
I'm watching with great interest because this is the sort of issue that really sheds light on how Malaysians get along - or not.