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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Its Time for Changes for Our Street Dogs

Dear Friends,

The following article was sent to the Straits Times, Forum.

We would like to share with you that a group of passionate people who are involved in animal welfare are voicing their views from their hearts on behalf of the dogs who have shared this universe with us. 

We are hoping that the authorities will hear their views and it's time to make changes to our system.

We want more compassion for the animals; do not cull the dogs and cats that have been sterilised. Caregivers have spent thousands of dollars to have them sterilised, so why should our hard earned money go down the drain?  Sterilisation is the only key to reduce unwanted dogs and cats on the streets.  In no time - these sterilised animals will eventually pass away one day from old age and the number of dogs will eventually be reduced.

Abandonment is the reason we find strays living on the streets. Is this how we treat our animals who were once part of our family members? Just because their owners are sick of them and dispose them, we kind souls end up feeling sorry and bring them home?  Abandoning their pets will only create bad karma for them and they will have to live with guilt for life! 

That said, how many of these abandoned pets can we actually rescue? How many can be kept alive?  A pet is a lifetime commitment and even though AVA keeps promoting Responsible Pet Ownership, there isn't much improvement. So what has gone wrong with our system?  I have come to the conclusion that we need not educate and convert responsible pet owners, but instead it should be the non-pet owners who should be fully educated.

Every year, animal welfare groups have been appealing to AVA and HDB to let Mongrels be HDB approved.  Years have passed and we still see no change in the system.  If pet owners are responsible, why can't we keep Mongrels in our HDB apartments?  I have seen some Mongrels staying in HDB flats and they are just as well behaved and obedient as purebreds. Fearing neighbours' complaints, these owners have to take their dogs out in the middle of the night just to play safe. The fear resembles sneaking a mistress into the house! Why should we live in fear?  What we want is change - we want HDB to relook into the system and to allow responsible pet owners to keep a Mongrel in their apartment. 

Many people do not mind adopting Mongrels, however they do have one concern and that is - "Mongrels are not allowed in HDB flats." Majority of us Singaporeans are HDB dwellers, so can you imagine how many of our special breeds would have a home today if they were finally HDB approved? 

We hope that you will take time to read Anita's letter to the forum.  And let's start referring to our Singapore Specials as "Cross Breeds" instead of "Mongrels", for they are special in their own ways and have their own inner beauty which we can appreciate.

Yours sincerely
Lynda Goh

Letter to the Forum by Anita

Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)

We are a small group of friends who have been actively feeding and rescuing  stray dogs  at different locations in Singapore for many years.  I am writing in to highlight the plight of these dogs.

Due to the recent development of the Lorong Halus Wetland, many of these harmless dogs have been trapped and culled. Some of us have been working tirelessly to rescue as many dogs as we can. But to do so, requires a long period, effort and finances on our part. To date, we have managed to rescue more than 20 dogs in the last 4yrs, a very small number, as compared to the hundreds that have been trapped and culled indiscriminately by the authorities.

All those dogs that had been rescued, were treated by the vet, sterilised and vaccinated, some have been successfully adopted. For those that aren't so lucky, are housed in various boarding kennels or released back to where their original habitat were. These unfortunate dogs (due to no fault of theirs) have faced insurmountable odds to survive. Hundreds of these dogs have been culled through the years, to make way for the fast growing expansion and development in this nation. Most are trapped inhumanely, suffering horrific injuries before they are culled. We implore the MND to intervene. Stop the culling of these harmless dogs. AVA (the government agency  ~ AGRICULTURE and VETERINARY Authority) charges a hefty sum of S$400 +, for each dog to be released to volunteers like us. VET and boarding are a astronimical cost to us. We would like to make a request to AVA to waive this fee. The waiver of this fee will be a reflection of AVA's true commitment towards animal welfare and humane practices.

Here are some of our thoughts on how the government can be more pro active in controlling the stray dogs population.

Finding homes for these dogs are mired by a huge obstacle, one being, that a large population of Singapore live in HDB flats. We implore the HDB to review it's current policy and allow these dogs to be adopted into HDB homes. Non-profit organisation like The Singapore Kennel Club can help. The SKC provides a wide range of courses, including obedience classes for dogs. These classes are essential tools to help rehabilitate and train these dogs to better intergrate and co-exist in our society.  

A big contributing factor to the stray population is irresponsible pet ownership. The government should legislate compulsory micro chipping and licensing and advocate sterilisation of pets. Heavier penalties should be meted out to owners if they are  proven to have abused or abandoned their pets.

If the above measures, are taken into consideration, we are convinced that there will be significant and visible results in the stray dogs (and cats) population. We strongly urge for the government to initiate change in our nation and strive towards a more compassionate and humane society. May I quote BG TAN, (Minister Of State for Ministry of National Developement)  6th Aug from the online portal ~ "people must acknowledge that pets and strays are inevitably part of the living environment and should find ways to best live alongside them".

We would like to salute the founders of the various animal welfare groups, Ricky (ASD ~ Action For S'pore Dogs), Ms Cathy Strong (ALL ~ Animals Lovers League), Raymond Wee (Noah's Ark CARES), Lynda Goh ( Zeus Communications ).  Many thanks to Mr Ong, Mr Han and Mohan for rescuing a stray dog (named Xiao Hei) that had lost mobility on his right leg, and giving him a chance to live instead of putting him down; to Alysha and Tara who donated all their birthday 'ang pow' collections to Zeus Communications (animal shelter); and to the many other volunteers island wide who have dedicated their whole lives to saving our street dogs.

Let's note that ~ "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"  ~ Mahatma Gandhi 

Xiao Hei was rescued by Mr & Mrs Ong and Uncle Han who have been feeding strays for the last 5 years with the help from Mohan of Animal Lovers League .  Xiao Hei disappeared for 2 days, the caregivers were so worried that they did not give up and kept looking for him.
Xiao Hei fell into the canal that was almost 5ft deep.  Mrs Ong in her 60s used her heart to search for Xiao Hei by sliding into 5ft deep canal - she did not even think of her safety or danger by doing what she did.  We are thankful that it did not rain when Xiao Hei was stuck in the canal. Stay tune for Xiao Hei's story...
(Picture was taken before Xiao Hei's surgery, his right front leg had to be amputated)

Dr Teo attending to Xiao Hei's wound.  Part of his bone could be seen.  Xiao Hei was in great pain and frustration for days.

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