Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Save our stray dogs

WE are a small group of friends who have been active in feeding and rescuing stray dogs in different locations in Singapore for many years. I am writing 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 possible. But it requires time, effort and finances on our part.

We have managed to rescue more than 20 dogs in the last four years, a very small number compared to the hundreds that have been culled to make way for Singapore's fast growing development.

All the rescued dogs were treated by a veterinarian, sterilised and vaccinated. Some have been successfully adopted. The rest have been housed in boarding kennels or released to their original habitat.

These unfortunate dogs face insurmountable odds to survive. Most are trapped inhumanely, suffering horrific injuries before they are culled. We implore the National Development Ministry to intervene. Stop the culling.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) charges a hefty S$400 for each dog to be released to volunteers like us. We would like to request the AVA to waive this fee. It would reflect its true commitment to animal welfare and humane practices.

We also have some thoughts on how the Government can be more pro-active in controlling the stray dog population.

Since it is very difficult to find homes for these dogs, as most people live in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, we implore the HDB to review its policy of allowing only one dog of an approved small breed per residential unit.

Non-profit organisations like the Singapore Kennel Club can help. It provides a range of courses, including obedience classes - essential tools to help rehabilitate and train dogs of all nature to better integrate and co-exist in our society.

A big contributing factor to the stray population is irresponsible pet ownership. The Government should advocate pet sterilisation, and there should be heavier penalties for owners who abuse or abandon their pets.

If these suggestions are accepted, we are convinced that significant and visible results will be seen in the stray dog population.

We urge the Government to initiate change and strive towards a more compassionate and humane society.

It was Minister of State (National Development) Tan Chuan-Jin who said people must acknowledge that pets and strays are inevitably part of the living environment and should find ways to best live alongside them.

This letter bears nine other names.