Saturday, June 25, 2011

Animal issues symptomatic of people problems

Jun 25, 2011

Animal issues symptomatic of people problems

NATIONAL Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's recent announcement of a review of policies towards the humane treatment of cats is a welcome one ('Culling stray cats not the way: Khaw'; June 4). As we fully engage on this issue as a society, we must recognise that animal issues are symptomatic of larger community and people-related issues.

Cat Welfare Society is a volunteer- run charity that believes in resolving issues in our community through the active participation of volunteers from the community.

Volunteers were there when a low-income family reached breaking point when they let three cats breed to 40 in their flat. They did not know how to ask for help for fear of being evicted or having their cats taken to be culled. Volunteers not only helped them sterilise and rehome their cats, but they also helped the family to seek financial and other assistance from social welfare.

Volunteers were there when there were complaints of cats defecating in corridors. They tracked down and counselled the cat owner who was not aware his cat was causing a nuisance in his block.

Volunteers were also there when an elderly man who lived alone had to be rushed to hospital leaving two cats at home. They allayed his worries about his cats until he could be reunited with them.

If animal issues could be resolved by simply removing the animals, we would not continue to face the same issues time and again. What does work is when there are active members in the community who work in tandem with town councils, even social services, to address the underlying community- and people-related issues manifesting in animal-related inconveniences.

On June 16, volunteers attended to an issue of chronic cat abandonment at a block of three-room flats in Eunos. In the course of their investigation, they encountered a mentally challenged middle-aged couple and an elderly cat feeder burdened by the abandonment.

There are those of us who feel that by paying taxes or donating to a charity, someone else will look into the social issues in our community. For the social workers and volunteers dealing head on with these issues, the burden is tremendous.

At some point, it is up to each and every one of us to do something for the people in our community with a need and make a difference.

Veron Lau (Ms)


Cat Welfare Society