If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain

Monday, June 28, 2010

Away from Prying Eyes

Behind the scenes of a Puppy Mill

With the recent news about breeding dogs in the press and in the animal welfare circle, once again it brings us to the issue of proper breeding standards of dogs in Singapore.

Most people would have thought that with Singapore being the best in almost everything, our countrymen would at least have a heart. Do we really? If you have been following certain animal welfare blogs, Facebook, the local papers, etc...  you would have read and seen the sorry state of the dogs rescued from local breeding farms here in almost perfect Singapore.

Did you know such abuse existed? We did, but sadly nothing has been done by the authorities. The usual reply would be “we need proof”.  Are the sad conditions of the 80 rescued breeding dogs not proof enough? How many more have gone unnoticed? How many more are there from where these came from?

Source: The New Paper, 17 April 2010

The authorities say that the public should be educated enough to buy dogs from reputable breeders – how would the public be educated when there has been no clear public education nor obvious guidelines from the authorities on who the reputable breeders are? And what exactly does being a reputable breeder mean? Does caging a dog in a big kennel with ample space, little water, even lesser food and almost zero medical care mean that the dog has sufficient space and that the breeder has not broken any laws and is treating the dog kindly?

Obviously there has been a lack of public education. If there was, then we would not be in the situation where people are led to believe that their 8 weeks old puppy they bought is already 3 to 4 months old? Or that the puppy they bought already has a microchip and they didn’t need to register it? But we’ll leave these topics for another day.

Let’s talk about the poor breeding dogs that have been used and abused over and over again, almost all their lives until they can no longer make money for the breeders, then they are either given away, abandoned or sold for $50.  Does it make you sad that that the lovely pedigree puppy you have in your home comes from a female dog that is now lying on the road somewhere hoping for a kind soul to pick her up, or locked up in a cage somewhere waiting for a slow death, because the breeders that they have made a lot of money for, cant even spend a few hundreds to euthanize her and put her to sleep with that final dignity?

Penelope was found lying on the road under the hot sun along Pasir Ris.

A kind soul immediately brought Penelope to the vet for treatment. Sadly, her freedom was shortlived. She passed on, too weak to fight and pull through.

Do buyers ask to see the puppy’s parents before buying them?  Do they know that the cute puppy came from parents that are perhaps 8 yrs old, blind, deaf and malnourished?  Do they know that the female dogs are mated on every heat non-stop, till they can no longer produce puppies?  Or that the breeder will only stop when the entire litter of puppies die? Then the female dogs are left to die a slow horrible death, often old, sick and weak with tits dangling from years of abuse.

The Singapore Kennel Club (SKC) has guidelines about breeding dogs:

• No breeding the bitch from the first heat

• To ensure that the bitch is healthy and in good physical condition and to provide special medical care during pregnancy and after whelping

• To ensure that the bitch is rested after two consecutive litters

• No close breeding or in breeding – meaning no breeding a bother with a sister, or a puppy with a parent

• To refrain from breeding after the bitch reaches 6 yrs of age

Do the educated public know that these female dogs are sometimes taken for a cesarean section, puppies removed, and then made to mate again even before their stitches have healed, even when the dog has not fully recovered? Maybe this is why we need national kindness movements to educate us? Or is kindness limited only to humans?

A Labrador with skin cancer and a deformed leg.

Do these same educated buyers question why the puppies they buy often have skin problems? Poor, weak hind legs? Are they aware that the breeders breed dogs that have hip dysplasia? And the results? Needless to say - such poor genes will be passed on to the puppies. Perhaps these educated buyers dont even know that their dog has weak hind legs? Or do they think that their puppy has skin problems because of food allergies, wrong shampoo, going to the park too often etc?

Do educated consumers know what in-breeding and over-breeding is? Something that happens pretty often here with local breeders. That in-breeding causes recessive genetic diseases, reduced fertility, increased congenital defects such as heart defects, cleft palates, lower birthweight, higher neonatal mortality, slower growth rate, loss of immune system function and skin problems?

Do the educated public know that over-breeding causes severely depressed immune systems, dehydration, malnutrition, wasting away from constant pregnancy, hip problems / hip dysplasia, mange and death.  The puppy that they have at home may have been bred between a brother and sister or mother and her son!

Look at the pictures below of the Shihtzu – what kind of puppies do you think she would produce? Do you think her puppies would inherit her skin problems? Would her puppies be weak, sickly and have constant health issues because the mommy did not have proper nutrition? And what happens when your puppy grows up with skin problems or hip dysplasia? Does it then not equate high vet bills and extra efforts to care for these dogs? And the sad outcome? Abandonment? When the vet bills start piling up, when owners tire of their dog's medical issues, they tend to abandon them. Over the years, we have found and rescued MANY abandoned dogs, mostly above the age of eight.

Sad, lifeless eyes staring at an empty future.

As long as the public chooses to buy and not adopt, there will always be business for breeders. Is there any harm in choosing to adopt a pet? Or adopting a middle-aged dog? This topic of adoption will be discussed another day.

The local authorities should have very clear regulations that perhaps state how old these dogs can be bred from, how many times they should be bred and not exceed that. Also clear rules on what breeders can and should do with breeding dogs after they have retired – rehome them? Euthanize them? Whatever the decision – be kind and humane in the stipulations.

"Life Imprisonment"

Checks should be carried out more stringently and more regularly. Heavier fines should be imposed. A $1000 fine is nothing but water on a duck's back. Authorities should sometimes give the public the benefit of the doubt and investigate a complaint without proof as sometimes the dogs do genuinely need help and getting proof is not always possible. Sometimes time spent gathering proof could mean a fine line between life and death for the poor dogs.

If these can be carried out by the authorities, and proper education is freely available to the public, then we would indeed be a country that is genuinely kind and gracious towards our companion animals, with or without government enforced courtesy campaigns.

Stay tuned to our blog for the next few weeks, as we provide you an insight into the lives of breeding dogs - raised solely to be used and abused.

Acknowledgement of Photos: Monica Eng and Davis KK Lee

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teresa Hsu - Singapore's Mother Teresa

I had the pleasure and honour of meeting Ms Teresa Hsu. Does her name ring a bell?

Teresa Hsu Chih, or commonly known as Teresa Hsu, is known affectionately as "Singapore's Mother Teresa", in recognition for her active life-long devotion in helping the aged sick and destitutes locally. The retired nurse is the founder of the non-profit charities—Heart to Heart Service and the Home for the Aged Sick, one of the first homes for the aged sick in Singapore. She has been a social worker in China and Paraguay and a nurse in England, before coming to Singapore to start similar non-profit charities since 1961.

Teresa is all of 112 yrs old this year and has been actively involved in charity work for the most part of her life. She has spent almost all her savings on feeding and housing the poor and the elderly, all of whom are younger than she is, but she herself leads a simple and humble lifestyle.

Before we met, Teresa’s friend and care-giver, Brother Sharana, had told me Teresa wanted to eat ice cream at Swensens – it was her favourite place and vanilla was her favourite flavour, and so we took her to Swensens for her favourite vanilla ice cream. When she found out that it was my friend’s birthday, Teresa clapped and burst into song, singing Happy Birthday to my friend in Spanish! Boy, was I amazed!

Spending the afternoon with Teresa was enlightening, heartwarming, and entertaining. She is an alert, witty and intelligent lady. Her wit and sense of humour would put many people half her age to shame. Throughout our tea, she laughed frequently and I found myself laughing too, at her unexpected jokes and sense of humour. She is well-read and extremely knowledgeable.

Despite her age, Teresa still has perfect eyesight, although she has lost her hearing in her right ear; “lost it to the devil”, she says, happily starting on her second scoop of vanilla ice cream. When asked how she feels about death, she says she can't tell you because she hasn’t experienced it yet. That’s wit from someone almost three times my age!

Teresa’s memory of her early life was very clear, being able to tell stories of her childhood with clarity and ease, although she seems to have lost some of her short term memory; but this was to be expected, given her age. Her philosophy is, life is simple – love and laughter.

After I sent her home, I found myself smiling when I thought about her quick witted replies during tea. She is truly and inspiration and perhaps it really is not so difficult to just give love and laugh.


Volunteers Required for Food Distribution

Date:  Sunday, 27 June 2010

Meeting Time:  9.45am

Meeting Place:  Heart to Heart Centre.

No. 130 Hougang Avenue 1 (Next to Block 165) and Opposite Lamp Post No. 46

Transport - you can help out regardless of whether you have your own transportation. You just need to email Teresa and Sharana to let them know if you do have your own transport. 

Queries on helping, please email Teresa Hsu at teresahsu105@pacific.net.sg

For more information on the work that Heart to Heart does for the old and needy folks please visit

Thank you for making the difference in their lives.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Feeding Strays

Often when people find out someone feeds strays, a few common thoughts cross their minds; no life, eccentric, littering by throwing plastic bags of food in public places, etc Whatever the comments may be, feeding strays is something I have chosen to do for the past many years. My objective, however, is very clear; to sterilize the female dogs so they don’t give birth to puppies who have to grow up on the streets with no food nor shelter and run the risk of being hit be heavy vehicles in construction sites.

             Puppies born in a factory

      Puppies living on the beach

Do they deserve to live the way they do?

Many a times I see female dogs running on the pavements in industrial estates, tits dangling, just given birth, no milk for the puppies and the female dog herself, skin and bones. It is a painful sight. Not all dogs can be befriended and be caught for sterilization. There are some feral dogs that even after feeding them for years, will not even come out till my car has driven off, then I see them from the rear view mirror. These are the poor dogs that will give birth over and over again and there is nothing very much we can do to help them.

Friends often say they want to start feeding strays too and I discourage them. It is not just feeding once in a blue moon, when I have leftovers. It is a regular long term commitment. Even when I am unwell, I go, because I know they are sitting on the pavements, waiting for me to go feed them. Some strays don’t get to eat for days on end. I know, because there are just too many of them and too little scraps lying around to fill all their stomachs.

A very old and weak dog living on the streets, dirty from oil in the factory

It is not easy feeding stray dogs. You may have a soft heart, so you feed them because you don’t want them to go hungry; but you also sometimes need to be “hard” because on some days, you see little puppies, eyes barely open, dashing across the road or crushed on the road, dogs running around with huge gaping maggot wounds, dogs so skinny and weak they can barely stand and reality hits you - that this is the sad life of a stray dog.

After feeding them, I often leave with mixed feelings . . . .happy that I gave them a good, hearty, nutritious meal; but sad that that was all I could do for them, to give them a meal and a pat. I couldn’t take the little puppies home, the ones that continuously licked my toes and thanked me for feeding them, all of three months old and stomach bloated from worms. Sad that I could not take that limping dog to the vet, even though his leg seemed to have been broken in a car accident. Sad that people go through great trouble to abandon their pets in industrial estates. You would know these are pets and not strays because they are just so terrified of other dogs, and they don’t look out for traffic when they cross the roads. Some days I drive home with a very heavy heart.

This evening was one of those sad evenings. I not only saw a Sharpei lying on the pavement, I also saw two badly injured dogs.

It is highly possible that this Sharpei is an abandoned dog – he appears terribly lost, scared of humans and other dogs and you can see the sadness in his eyes. Perhaps it was easier for him to accept the death of his owner, rather than be abandoned. He has been living on the streets for the past 3 months and I have been feeding him regularly, as he was a mere skeleton when I first saw him. He cowers away the minute any dog comes near him, and as such, he never ever gets to eat anything at all . . . .He seems to be about 4 to 6 years old but I sense he doesn’t see very well. He tends to sniff his way around and I am concerned he may be hit by a vehicle, considering he is not road savvy like the other strays.

These are pictures of the Sharpei I took last week.

The abandoned Sharpei waiting at the bus stop

Confusion and sadness in his eyes

This evening I also spotted a male dog with the entire left side of his face and body so badly injured, possibly from a dog fight. His flesh was rotting, the stench unbearable and there were maggots in his wound. He was extremely hungry, so I fed him, but could not go near him. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me.

As if all this was not upsetting enough, I saw a middle aged male dog, whom I have been feeding for the past 4 years, with his testicles bleeding and swollen to bigger than the size of two tennis balls. As always, he ran up to me and licked my legs to tell me how happy he was to see me. I saw him just some days back and he didn’t have this problem. I was almost in tears when I fed him. He didn’t seem to be in much pain and happily ate his food . . . but then again, strays have a very high tolerance for pain.

Tomorrow I will go look for this male dog and take him to the Vet. I hope it is not cancerous and that sterilization would save him and he can be back on the streets in a couple of days. I hope he trusts me enough to let me take him to the Vet.

As for the other dog with the face wound . . .taking him to the Vet would not be an easy task as he wont even let me near him, but like all my other rescue cases, I will persist and try my best to help.

If you had somehow thought that people who feed strays are eccentric and have nothing better to do in their lives . . . you may be right. We even spend days on end staking out places just to rescue the injured dogs and take them to the Vet; but all our rescue work would not be possible without the kind support and generosity of friends and fellow animal lovers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Animal Communication Workshops

Some of us talk to our animal friends as if they completely understand us, and possibly, they do. People who have not had the pleasure of living with animals think we're nuts. Yet human-animals communication transcends the limits of the spoken word; it has a feeling of mutual respect and caring. Animals allow us to be ourselves without shame, embarrassment or doubt.

With these workshops, we hope you will experience the amazing interaction between yourself and your companion animal. So open your hearts and minds; register for these animal communication workshops and deepen your relationship with your pet, learn to communicate and understand them better.

Animal Communication Workshop for Pet Owners

Foundation Course (Level 1)
Investment: S$450 (with certification)

Date:  Saturday, 28 Aug and Sunday 29 Aug 2010
Time:  10.30am to 5.30pm
Venue:  Basic Essence, 501 Bukit Timah Road, Cluny Court

A repeat of the Foundation Course will be held on:
Date:  Saturday,4 Sept and Sunday, 5 Sept 2010

Intermediate Course (Level 2)
Investment: S$415 (with certification)

Date:  Friday, 3 Sept 2010
Time: 10.30am to 5.30pm
Venue: Basic Essence, 501 Bukit Timah Road, Cluny Court

Animal Reiki for Pet Owners

Course: Animal Reiki
(First time in Singapore)
Investment: S$150

Date: Thursday, 2 Sept 2010
Time: 8pm to 10pm
Venue: To Be Advised

* Participants require a Basic Certificate in Reiki.

To register, please provide us with the following details:

Participants Details:
Name :
Email :
Contact Nos:

Workshop Details:
Date of Workshop:

Workshop Details:  Foundation Course (Level 1) /
Intermediate Course (Level 2)  / Animal Reiki
(*pls circle the course that you are attending)

Do you own a pet/pets?
If yes, what type of pet/pets? 
(Breed of Dog/Cat, Rabbit, Bird, Fish)?

Please print this page and issue your cheque to
"Zeus Communications LLP" and mail it to 8 Raffles Avenue,
#02-04, The Esplanade, S(039802) to reserve your seat.

There are only 30 spaces for these workshops so do hurry and register.

Thank you.
Zeus Communications

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Animal Communications Scholarship

Dear Friends and Supporters of Zeus Communications,

Communicating with animals promote positive progress, happiness and understanding between humans and animals. Having a close relationship with your pet is much more than just spending time with it, feeding it and living with it. It involves special bonds where you can understand your pets’ needs and feelings, and you too can effectively convey your thoughts to the animal. This will help to remove the Human-Animal "communication barrier”, bridging the gap between humans and animals.

Animal Talk Ltd is offering one scholarship worth S$450 for an Animal Communication workshop for Pet Owners.

Workshop Information
Workshop: Animal Communication Workshop for Pet Owners
Foundation Course: Level One (Certification included)

Date: 28 and 29 August 2010
Time: 10.30am - 5.30pm
Venue: Basic Essence (Cluny Court)

1. Applicant must be aged 25 years old and above
2. Applicant must have been a volunteer with any animal welfare society for the past 3 years or have helped animals in their own capacity

Terms and Conditions
1. The judge is Ms Rosina Arquati and her decision is final. Only shortlisted candidates will be notified.

2. Zeus Communications reserves the right to change the date of the workshop with prior notice.

3. Zeus Communications reserves the right to publish your story / submission on our blog.

How To Apply
Please send an email to dogstalk@starhub.net.sg with the following information ;

1. Name:
2. NRIC No :
3. Contact:
4. Email address:
5. Age:
6. Occupation:

I have volunteered (pick one)

a) In my own capacity (Please provide details on the work that you have done for animal welfare):

b) With an animal welfare group (Please state the name of the animal welfare group and your role in the society):

Name of person in-charge of animal welfare group (for verification purposes):

Contact number of person in-charge.

Submission is now open. All entries must reach us by 5pm on 30 June 2010.
Results will be announced on our blog end July 2010.

Thank you.

Well Wishes
Zeus Communications

Visitor Count

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."- Unknown