Category Archives: Complaints

Issues Singaporeans lodged about cats et al. Mostly whines and whinges.

Help: Save the pigeons living in Singapore

Pigeons_20100317_006x Unless you’ve been living under Singapore River, there’s no way you are unaware that living among Singaporeans in this cold home of concrete that demands we give and give and give, is another “homeless” animal who has been targetted for the Singapore brand of population and complaint management.

The letters that have seen print argue for both sides of the coin… but it seems like as soon as “potential hazard” or health concerns are trotted out, that’s the end of the argument. Is that valid? There was even a letter that tells of the letter-writer’s father brush with death due to inhalation of dried, power-form pigeon shit. While I feel sorry for the letter-writer’s father, I am concerned at the myopic nature of her call to arms as it were. Yes, pigeon shit caused the problems her father suffered, but the pigeons were just being pigeons, but the true cause? Human neglect. Yet the letter writer does not go after her neighbour for negligence leading to the “perfect storm” that hit her father.BirdStatue_20100317_002x

There is too much fear-mongering, what-ifs, laziness, illogic, blame-shifting and complacency in this matter.

Sounds familiar?

Let’s extend our empathy for our homeless kitties’ fellow victims of the Singapore brand of population and complaint management.

Help the pigeons sharing our homeless kitties’ space, check out savepigeons.blogspot.com to find out how.

Bureaucracy, boxes, beer. Blech

Reading Dawn’s thoughts on the Cat on MRT tracks incident, one has got to wonder why Singapore bureaucracy has this tendency to stick around in the revolving door, and go with the flow to nowhere. Doesn’t it get motion sick at some point? Or rather, how long does the Singapore bureaucracy like to punish itself and those it affect before it does something and drag or throw itself out of it and perhaps give relief to the affected populace?

Dawn says:

“… the staff member may not have felt empowered to do this – or to face the consequences especially when the management may not already be very cat-friendly to begin with. I remember at least one case where I wrote in to offer our help because we were told that the unsterilised cats were usually rounded up and sent to the AVA if there were complaints or if they were found to be a ‘problem’.

So what needs to be done? Clearly what this episode shows is that there should be some manner of procedure or protocol devised so that staff members DO know what do in future. This would ensure that we don’t have to cross our fingers and hope that if this happens again, the staff member knows something about cats.”

It’s like the long long slate of mrt track “intrusions”. Only now are we getting platform screen doors for the doorless above-ground stations.

And consider the train service disruptions which jolt us out of our complacency every so often. The LTA says it takes a serious view of service disruption. But there’s been 92 instances of disruption over a 3 year period, and it’s always the same old same old in the bag of grievances when the letters of complaints flood the media. About how staff don’t seem to know about crowd control, traffic direction, or plain don’t know what they’re supposed to do. About alternatives which are non-existent or cause more “hardship” to the already inconvenienced commuters.

In place is a SOP which received a parliamentarian airing, so why are there still so many unhappy commuters who complain about the same things each time?

Do we dare hold out much hope that a SOP will be set in place to handle kitties in stations, or that it the SOP in place will actually be followed, or even applied correctly?

It’s also the same old same old in the bag of grievances us minions caregivers have about how we and the kitties living in Singapore’s streets are treated.

The powers that be keep relying on the same tired old excuses for keeping status quo.

Curiously, I keep thinking about the latest Tiger Beer ad making the TV rounds when I think about our situation.

Not that I’m stumping for the frothy or want some morose dousing, but it does demonstrate a life lesson (the ad, not the draught), which is saying quite something since beer ads never make much sense (though the Heineken ones I always found most palatable among the hordes).

The ad is no philosophical dissertation for sure. Two guys fighting over the last bottle in the bucket — can’t they just order more? – decided on arm-wrestling, and end up trying to one-up each other, morphing into bigger and stronger opponents which also happen to counter the other guy’s latest incarnation. The winner morphs into a blond hot chick and wins by shorting the circuits of his robotic rival.

No, there is no kitty involved but how cool that instead of being stiff-necked, conventional, and deadboxed into the one-track idea of bigger must be better, the winner takes stock of the situation (while in the very pleasing form of a buff Jungle Man who stares down Philly_Rheilly_20090927_005xsilverbacks), basically jumped out of the box and threw his then stronger-than-Jungle-Man robotic foe out of orbit with his twist on oneupsmanship. Imagine if he had been lazy and conformed with the flow, and morphed into something stronger than stronger-than-Jungle-Man-robot instead. Bore, broken record, tiresome, credibility depreciation. Vicious cycle.

Whenever I see the ad, I ask myself the million dollar question: why can’t the powers that be do the same when confronted with ideas, facts, or complaints about Singapore ’s cats? Have a tiger or whatever’s their poisons of choice, untie the knots they’re in and LOOK the issues in the eye rather than trotting out and nursing those so-old template responses that don’t do a thing except tighten the knots they’re in, and grind our noses in it. Vicious cycle, anyone?

Maybe this post should be titled “Saatchi & Saatchi for government” instead. [EDIT: Or maybe I don't want that actually, imagine legislation that decree ad-watching quotas on citizens... ]

Footnote
Remember: if you come across an SOS, whether from a fellow human or a little kitten, don’t just walk away. And drink responsibly.

Foster Mum’s Homeseeker: Kanly, lovely doggy needs a home

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Kanly is a 8 month old black female puppy, medium-large size. She is sterilised and seeking a permanent home.

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Temperament: Friendly, trusting, affectionate, and calm. Does not bark. Shy with men.

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Kanly seems ok with cats. The orange blob in the lower right is Yo-yo aka Bonnie, a female ginger kitty in the cattery.

Her Story

Kanly was picked up of the streets as a young pup  5-6 months ago by a young brother and sister pair. She lived in a HDB flat happily, and without problems as she does not bark.

However, as she grew and grew, her family’s neighbours decided they would not tolerate her presence and made a complaint to HDB. Of course, the ultimatum was issued to her young owners. The kids were distraught but luckily, they were able to seek help. Kanly was rescued by Noah’s Ark and is now being fostered by Foster Mum.

Kanly is a victim of the same draconian HDB pet rules that threaten cats. As such, she cannot be rehomed to someone living in HDB.

ENQUIRIES: ADOPTION AND PROCEDURE
Please email sephycat@gmail.com with the following:

  • your name
  • contact
  • a summary of your background and experience with dogs

Serious adopters only, please. All info will be treated in confidence and forwarded to Kanly’s guardian.

NewPaper 20090327: Seletar Hill residents get catty over strays

The ghosts of the 45 dead cats of Seletar case are still haunting the estate it seems, and have exposed a long open can of worms. Us-vs-them doesn’t work, but obviously these folks aren’t willing to sit down and talk. It doesn’t help that

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said those troubled by strays are informed about AVA’s free loan of cat traps and free collection of trapped cats.

Hello, vacuum effect? Is this conveyed to the aspiring trapper? Are aspiring trappers also told the cats are killed once they reach AVA? And who is paying for the costs of such trapping and killing? How about actually suggesting effective options like the Scarecrow for a change? Options that happily, also happen to be humane?

‘The borrower is informed to ensure that the trapped cat is not subjected to ill-treatment or injury and that it is an offence to subject an animal to cruelty,’ he said.

Yes, public service announcement. Well and good. But who ensures the trapped cat really wasn’t ill-treated? What action is taken if such ill-treatment is discovered? Who checks the trapped cats for signs of ill-treatment or injury before they are sent into the kitty murder room in AVA grounds?

For complaints on a large number of cats in a house, an AVA officer will visit to check on the number of cats and their welfare, and advise the owner to confine them within the premises, sterilise them and also to reduce the number by re-homing them.

At last, some recognition that sterilisation and keeping kitties indoors is the way to go. But why are such simple pre-emptive measures not suggested and promoted BEFORE such a case happens? And once again neighbours should be told about the impact of vacuum effect rather than offered the free traps upfront. It doesn’t take much to convey the message, especially if it’s men-in-uniforms doing the conveying.

Re-homing them… what is the likelihood of successful rehoming? What aid is given to ensure the re-homing is done properly and the cats’ new homes are genuine refuge for them where the risk of abandonment or neglect is minimal? Otherwise, what is the point of ‘advising’ the owner to re-home? Lip service? I hope not.

Here’s the article for your vigorous exercise in logic

Seletar Hill residents get catty over strays
Cat lovers & trappers divided over hygiene & stench problems
By Teh Jen Lee
March 27, 2009

SELETAR Hills Estate residents are getting increasingly divided over stray cats.

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TNP ILLUSTRATION: FADZIL HAMZAH

On one side are animal activists who insist that it’s fine to keep cats in large numbers. They feed strays and take them home when they are sick.

On the other are neighbours aggrieved by problems such as the stench when too many cats are kept in one place.

Since the start of this year, three of them have resorted to trapping strays and sending them to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to be put down.

When 45 cats were found buried in the area, accusations started flying between the two camps.

The New Paper received an e-mail from a resident who accused her neighbours of animal cruelty because they were unhappy with her keeping stray cats. Two of her cats were found with their tails injured.

Another resident was fingered as the culprit for the cat burials because he is known as an avid cat trapper.

Netizens posted his address online and threatened to harm him.

We’re not naming those involved because we do not want to aggravate the situation.

Other residents who are neither cat lovers nor trappers feel caught in the fracas.

Humane

One resident told The New Paper: ‘Cats are okay but it’s more of a cleanliness and hygiene issue when there are many cats in one house.

‘I was told that NEA (National Environment Agency) officers almost puked when they entered (one such) house, so you can imagine how bad it was. The person must be an ardent cat lover to be able to withstand the smell.’

The woman, who requested anonymity, said Jalan Rengas in the estate is famous for its cat stench.

Mr Lim Kuan Zhong, 24, a marketing executive who raises money for stray cat caregivers in Seletar, said: ‘I’m not a resident but I do know there is a conflict. However, I’m for the keeping of community cats.

‘Some problems are due to residents’ intolerance or lack of understanding of what caregivers are doing. They spend money to neuter. I see this as a practical benefit, controlling stray numbers in a humane way.’

Sterilisation also decreases the likelihood of caterwauling, he said.

Caregivers also medicate strays so that disease doesn’t spread to other cats, including domestic cats, added Mr Lim.

He said when strays are adequately fed, they don’t go into people’s houses or rummage through rubbish bins. They help keep the population of rats and pests down.

But what if they are so well-fed that they don’t go after rats? ‘It’s not necessarily true. It’s in their nature to catch lizards, cockroaches, rats and moles, unless they are so overfed and obese that they are sedentary.’

What about cats that defecate indiscriminately?

Mr Lim said: ‘Actually, by natural instinct, they will dig the soil and cover up after defecating. They do this even when they have diarrhoea. However, they may not cover it that well.’

He felt that dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets cause a bigger problem.

What about too many cats in one house?

Mr Lim admitted that more than 30 cats was excessive, but said: ‘There are limited shelters and houses to keep cats in Singapore. The Housing Board should repeal the ban on keeping cats.’

Another Seletar resident, who declined to be named, said a neighbour who lives near a house at Jalan Rengas with 80 to 90 cats told him that four neighbours sold their homes and moved away.

‘The matter has gone all the way to our Member of Parliament but there’s just no solution. It has been a problem for the past five years,’ he said.

The MP, Dr Balaji Sadasivan, told The New Paper: ‘Whenever complaints about cats are received, the complaints are referred to AVA.

‘Cat lovers have also voiced their concern about the need to treat cats humanely and this has also been relayed to AVA.’

When The New Paper visited Jalan Rengas, only one resident was around and willing to speak with us.

Renovation work was going on around the house with many cats and the contractors working next door were acutely aware of the smell.

Mr Xu Shu Long, 46, said in Mandarin: ‘I’ve been working here for almost a week, it’s very bad. This is the smelliest site I’ve worked at since I came to Singapore four years ago. Even in China, such a stench is very rare.’

Mr Percy Jeyapal, chairman of the Seletar Hills Estate Residents Association, takes the position that ‘we must live and let live’.

‘Obviously, we don’t encourage stray cats all over the place as it does propagate disease and can be a nuisance.

‘We must also ensure that cats are not abandoned. Having a large number of cats is a problem but we can’t interfere with people’s lives. Those living close by need to suffer certain inconveniences.’

House visit

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said those troubled by strays are informed about AVA’s free loan of cat traps and free collection of trapped cats.

‘The borrower is informed to ensure that the trapped cat is not subjected to ill-treatment or injury and that it is an offence to subject an animal to cruelty,’ he said.

For complaints on a large number of cats in a house, an AVA officer will visit to check on the number of cats and their welfare, and advise the owner to confine them within the premises, sterilise them and also to reduce the number by re-homing them.

Mr Jeyapal said owners must show some responsibility on hygiene and smell issues.

He said: ‘If they can’t manage… then they have to keep cats in moderation.

‘Those with more than 30 cats, we acknowledge their love for cats, but there must be some places such as farms where cats can have a better life.’

Myanimalfamily averted hoarder crisis

[EDIT 20090329] MyAnimalFamily: Animal hoarding in Singapore


Today, myanimalfamily blogs about a temporarily averted hoarder crisis.

I believe this is the same case V mentioned he was doing the transport for when we were making arrangements for Bradley and Saba as the details match, from the house filled with scaredy ginger-coloured cats, its unforgettable ‘fragrance’ and a retarded resident who needs help.

Hats off to the woman of myanimalfamily for managing this case, helping the cats and the people. I believe it is telling that transforming the sentiment from

… an entire floor of residents to band together crying for blood

to

They in fact, came to their own conclusion that it was not possible to take away all the old woman’s cats without causing her much pain and suffering and finally only asked that the situation with the smell be resolved.

One neighbour even spoke up to say that even though she was affected, she would not complain against a lonely old woman, causing some sheepish looks from the others.

was no mean feat. It helped that the woman was able to describe the situation inside the flat.

It was a good opportunity to ask them for their understanding of the old woman’s situation. Obviously, no one knew she was alone with no children, looking after a retarded brother.

Most people are reasonable and tolerant. Most people with complaints or grievances want the source of their pain taken care. Most people don’t want to see lives snuffed out or cause another to lose heath and home if there’s another way about it. There can be no better example than this case. So why do Town Councils still tend to be so trigger happy when it comes to cat-complaints?

The TC and even HDB officer in this case exempted of course. Give credit where credit’s due. Go read the account now.


[EDIT 20090329] MyAnimalFamily: Animal hoarding in Singapore

At last, trapping happens for Area2. And juicy gossips abound

Quick update: It’s now 12.05am, 23 Jan, and we’re just back from another trapping session, and unlike the last round where we targetted Area2 and ended up with 2 Area1 kitties and 1 marauding male, we went to Area2 and got 5 Area2 kitties!

Aside from the torbie calico female kitten, Brielle who remains at large, and the short-tailed agouti who’s been missing since mid Dec, the dilute calico family comprising Mum-Brina, short-tailed and small-sized black kitten with white mittens-Brayden, 2 cream-coloured tabbies-Brenna (long-tail female) and Brennan (short-tail male), are slated for mojo freedom tomorrow. We also got a new adult male Jerry, whose gentle and sweet nature belies his experience. He is sterilised but ear’s untipped, so we’re sending him to get that done and to get him checked for the surgical wound he appeared with. We started out at 9.50pm (22 Jan), and called it a night at 11.30ish.

Bradley continues to elude efforts to get him but there may be hope. While waiting for V, we met A and her daughter, J, who feeds the cats nightly. A says Bradley usually waits for her behind the eatery at around 8something. We’ll work with her to get him. For interested readers, since we named him, we’ve not been able to find him until last Wednesday. He’s growing up quite well.

A has also sighted Stanley recently, and we’re glad to have the confirmation that he’s well since we’ve not seen him since his release.

Other interesting bits: A lives in the same block as Saba‘s family, and confirms she has a new litter she’s hiding in the drains somewhere.

Scottie has been claimed by the family’s man of the house due to his super sweet nature. Scottie was found with a knife wound to his tail last week and the family has applied medicine.

They also have a new white cat with a a fluffy tail which they paid more than $100 to get sterilised voluntarily but is still terribly unwilling to sterilise Saba. They told A they wanted to ask us to help sterilise Saba but can’t contact us as we’ve changed our numbers- which is incredible since both btmao and I have kept the same hp numbers.

A has been persuading them to get Saba done, but the same excuses as the ones they used on us were trotted out apparently. They even asked A to sponsor $30… a rather brazen request considering that they now have 2 wall-mounted large LCD TVs, expensive looking wall-mounted sound systems, and even renovated their home for the last Hari Raya.

Now that Saba has kittens, she has also been going up to A’s flat to ask for food too! A provides food outside her door. I told A to stop doing that and to feed in common areas with discretion as she would any other cat. I have also requested A not to let the family know she has made contact with us – I am fed up with them and the case with the white cat shows they are more than able to afford and find their own vet.

On a related tangent, btmao is trying to handle a complaint. The TC has pictures of a cat which an Area2  resident claims is noisy in the early morning but will not share the picture nor reveal the complainant’s contact details. In frustration, btmao asked the TCO why can’t the complainant then talk to the feeder or the cat’s owner since he is able to take the cat’s pictures. The TCO has no answer except that people don’t take ownership of their own problems. The TCO then said he would call HDB, so btmao reminded him that HDB does not allow pet cats, which means it would result in more cats outside which means more potential problems for him. He then said he might need to talk to the MP, and btmao said fine, we’ll go see him first. To be fair, the TCO is a nice person and he does try to work with us, but this was a conversation that really got nowhere fast.

Anyway, from our convo with A today, we believe the cat in question is the family’s white cat as A says it goes into the carpark nearby in the early morning and cries for food. We’ll need to think on how to handle this one.

Sally, whom we thought missing or displaced by Saba and the steady stream of later additions to the family is also on A’s floor. A Malay family allows her in to play with their children and shuts her out when they sleep.

Sunny has died, knocked down at the very busy intersection nearby.

The elusive mother cat and second litter we heard about and have yet to locate is most probably Sarsi. Only 1 kitten from her first litter survived, likely kitnapped for its looks. As for her second known and current litter, no one is sure how many there were nor how many are alive now. We shall try to locate her.

A new male cat we named Robby has been on the prowl for love. Two nights ago, he was after Brina like a greyhound was on to a hare. He was sitting right by the drains Brina’s family called home as we were about to call it a night, so V set the trap for him. Unfortunately, he was not interested in food at all, and eluded capture this time. We can only hope Brielle will remain safe until Brina’s return on Sunday, and that his lust will subside soon.

There is another new male cat we sighted early last month untipped and unsterilised. He then turned up 2 weeks later with a tipped ear and a collar. We call him Jet due to his spraying. From A, we got to know that he belongs to the family’s neighbour. The family DEMANDED Jet be sterilised as he was getting intimate with Saba and they don’t want more kittens. The wonder is that the neighbour complied. The bigger wonder is that the neighbour didn’t demand the family reciprocate with Saba’s sterilisation.

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No wonder my head get achesies

We’ve exchanged contact info with A and J and will be sharing more info, esp kitty food info.

Details and of course pictures of Brina and her family, Jerry, Jet to come.

Help Alabama post-office cat keep his home

Apparently, the phenomenon of complainants causing problems for community cats isn’t a Singaporean-only trait, small comfort that it is.

Worse is the stranger phemon of authorities’ willingness to bend like pretzels for 1, that’s o-n-e, 1 sole (not very strong) complainant against an animal who doesn’t bother anyone and is more than tolerated by the silent majority. One woman doesn’t want Sammy in the post office he calls home because she’s highly allergic.

You’d have to wonder: how much time does she spend in the post office compared to Sammy that the U.S Postal Office has to do her will? What would the U.S. Postal Service someone comes along and complains she’s highly allergic to the materials used in the stamps being sold? And I thought it was bad enough that Singapore has a town council chief who advocates a zero cat policy. Bureaucratic tail-chasing isn’t such a uniquely Singapore trait after all. Oh joy.

Go to Dawn’s blog and read Cat banned from Post Office to watch the vid report. Read more reporting here: Post office feline sparks cat fight in small Alabama town

P O Box 173, Notasulga, Alabama 36866, United States of America.