Monday, August 20, 2012

"a little tolerance and understanding from everyone goes a long way."

Published on Aug 20, 2012

RECENTLY, there have been several letters on the feeding of stray cats ("For cat's sake, act against irresponsible feeding" by Mr Lee Chiu San, Aug 1; and "Irresponsible pet owners deserve equally stiff penalties" by Mr Yang Ying Qing, last Thursday, and "Cat feeders are the problem" by Ms Vivienne Yeo, Aug 4, both on Forum Online).
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) takes a balanced approach in managing stray cats.
Public opinion on their management is divided. There are those who are bothered by the stray cat nuisance and irresponsible  feeding, and hence advocate a ban on feeding them and their removal from the streets. There are also others who advocate sterilisation and responsible management as humane ways to manage the stray cat population.
The AVA takes into consideration these diverse views and ensures that our control measures benefit society at large.
People should not feed strays irresponsibly. While the feeding of stray animals is well-intended, irresponsible feeding becomes an offence when it causes littering of the environment.
The public may contact the AVA on 1800-476-1600 to provide feedback on irresponsible stray animal feeding.
Animal lovers should also be mindful that feeding strays without getting them sterilised will cause them to proliferate and exacerbate the stray cat situation. The efforts of animal lovers who devote their time and resources to sterilising and caring for community cats can be supported as long as they do so responsibly.
We have observed that in areas where sterilised stray cats are part of the community, the stray cat population has decreased.
Thus, the AVA has been working with the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) to promote responsible pet ownership and explore feasible ways of managing the stray animal population.
For example, we are working with the CWS and their volunteers through our Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme. Under it, an agreed number of sterilised cats are returned to the neighbourhood, where they are responsibly managed by caregivers. The CWS also assists, where possible, in community mediation related to cat issues.
The stray cat issue is a complex problem with no quick fixes. Tackling it requires the collective efforts of animal welfare groups, caregivers and the community.
The AVA will continue its public education efforts to inculcate responsible pet ownership to improve animal welfare, as well as create a harmonious living environment for all. However, education is a long-term process, and a little tolerance and understanding from everyone goes a long way.
Dr Wong Hon Mun
Director, Agri Establishment Regulation
for Chief Executive Officer
Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority