updated 9/14/2007 3:47:44 AM ET 2007-09-14T07:47:44

A Malaysian town called off a dog-catching competition to rid the streets of strays following criticism from animal activists, an official said Friday.

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Razif Zainol Abidin, an official of the Selayang Municipal Council, said it decided to stop the contest after activists — with dogs in tow — protested what they said was an inhumane and distasteful competition.

"We withdrew the competition this morning," Razif told The Associated Press. "We won't stop catching the dogs, but we will ask the NGOs to help us do it in a proper way."

Selayang town in central Selangor state launched the competition last week to alleviate the problem of strays, promising residents 20 ringgit ($5.70) for each dog delivered.

The council also planned to spend a total of 39,000 ringgit ($11,120) to build playgrounds or other projects for community associations that caught at least 150 dogs within six months.

Animal activists strongly condemned the plan as ineffective, and warned people might use violent tactics that could hurt the dogs, or be bitten while trying to catch them.

Razif said no dogs had been caught under the program.

Malaysia, a mostly Muslim country, has strict laws on dog ownership. Dogs are considered unclean in Islam, and most owners are from the minority ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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