More dogs are being abandoned as people struggle with reduced financial circumstances, said animal rights activists.
A dog rescue organisation said with the loss of income and declining business due to the Covid-19 situation, many had to resort to giving up their pets.
"There is an increase in the number of dogs being abandoned and owners that are having financial difficulties calling shelters to surrender their dogs.
"Not all dog owners react that way but some do due to their situation like going through a pay cut or their businesses are affected," Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue founder T Puspa Rani told Malaysiakini.
She said in some cases, the reduced income has forced some to move from landed property to a high-rise building, where they cannot bring their dogs along.
"It's not that they want to abandon their dogs but the situation is such and they have no choice," she added.
Yesterday, The Star reported a 50 percent increase in dogs being abandoned in Ipoh, Perak since the Covid-19 pandemic started, according to Ipoh Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals president Ricky Soong.
Soong added that many owners who kept expensive breeds of dogs were unable to sustain their high maintenance.
“The easy way out for them is to leave the dogs far away or send them to the shelter. Many people have lost their jobs and are unable to fork out extra for pets,” he was reported as saying.
Soong cited a recent case in which an owner had called authorities to take the dog away, claiming the animal was not his.
Last year, dog advocacy group Voice For Paws said that since the first movement control order (MCO) in late March it saw a 60 percent increase in the number of dogs it was asked to rescue.
Many were abandoned by bridges, train stations, bus stops or just left on the side of the road.
This situation is not unique to Malaysia, with the BBC reporting a total of 40,000 dogs abandoned UK-wide in 2020, as the country dealt with an economic crash similar to 2008 when there was a 25 percent rise in abandoned dogs, according to the animal welfare group Dogs Trust.
In Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, animal rescue group Furrykids Safehaven secretary Sathiavany Madhavan concurred that reduced economic circumstances were leading to an increase in abandoned pets.
"A couple who had two dogs lost their jobs - the husband was working in a hotel and the wife in a factory. They had to move to a room and asked us to take in their dogs," she said.
Sathiavany said she did not see a sudden increase in pedigrees being abandoned this year, although last year she did notice a lot of poodles were discarded during the initial stages of MCO.
Nonetheless, she said good work was being done on the ground by concerned parties.
"The number of strays is coming under control in Seremban as we are practising TNR which is trap, neuter and rehome/release.
"It is important for owners to neuter their pets and for communities to work together and neuter strays in their area," added Sathiavany.
Puspa believes that the best solution for abandoned pets is to find them new homes.
"(This is as) they have been in a home and if sent to a shelter they will never understand why the owner left them there," she added.
She said it was a really tough time for all and there were some dog owners who were genuinely distraught.
"I feel sorry for some owners who really love their dogs. It's really sad. Shelters too are full," Puspa added.
Paws Animal Welfare Society shelter manager Edward Lim pointed out that there is a difference between owners abandoning their pets and surrendering them responsibly.
"We get five to 10 abandoned dogs and 15-20 abandoned cats and that actually hasn't changed. However, the number of dogs being surrendered has been going up during the pandemic," he said.
Lim added that his shelter, which operates from the old Subang Airport road, is quite full but will try and squeeze in the additional animals if they can.