Tag Archives: homeless animals

Area1: Schwinger Central

The Snippety Happy bunch are back. They arrived shortly after 10pm this evening. All looked good, though wide-eyed from the trauma of their abduction and mojo-robbery.

Before their homecoming btmao and I went around the area, hoping to encounter the absentee kitty aka Rapunzel, who didn’t join the happy snippees on Monday. As luck, or probably the kitty deities, would have it, that kitty did appear. So V secured the lucky one before releasing the snippety bunch.

Four schwingers de-mojoed, and Rapunzel in the bag. But is it really over, for now at least? btmao say the new kitty in the hood seemed to be a different one from the schwingers rounded up.

More details, naming headaches and yes pictures to come.

Kitten in mrt station incident: Officious response

A follow-up to the kitten in Dohby Ghaut NEL station incident (or Bureaucracy, boxes, beer. Blech).

From the TODAY Voices section. At least the NEL spin doctors have the grace to acknowledge the mistakes on their part.

‘Proper procedure was not followed’

But there was no evidence that the cat had been hit
Letter from Tammy Tan, vice-president (Corporate Communications), SBS Transit
Updated 09:05 AM Oct 07, 2009

WE REFER to “MRT staff at Dhoby Ghaut ignored pleas; had no regard for animal welfare” by Ms Risa Okamoto Mardjuki (Today Online, Oct 4).

It is rare for animals to enter our stations, but when they do, our staff have been told to spare no effort in ensuring their safety whilst not compromising on the safety of our passengers.

The Standard Operating Procedure in such cases is for station staff to seek assistance from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA) and to watch over the animal as the SPCA makes its way to our premises. This has been the way we have handled similar cases in the past when dogs strayed into our station.

Unfortunately, the proper procedure was not followed in this instance. Our station staff first erred by calling the pest control company instead of the SPCA.

An error of judgment was also made when the staff tried to lure the cat into a non-public passageway which is located behind the emergency door. The manner in which this was done was also wrong. Certainly a stick and a garbage bag should not have been used.

To make matters worse, the cat unexpectedly leapt up the wall into a small opening located just beside the emergency door and landed on the tracks instead.

Since the incident occurred on Oct 2, we have conducted several sweeps of our tracks and found no evidence that the cat had been hit by our trains.

We have also been trying to look for it in our tunnels to try and bring it back up to street level and to safety, but we have not been able to spot it. We will continue to keep a lookout for the cat, but we believe that it has since escaped and is now safe.

We wish to offer our sincerest apologies to Ms Mardjuki and all animal lovers for the way in which we have handled this situation. It was not our intention to bring harm to the cat.

We have since learnt from this episode and will be fine-tuning our procedures to ensure that stray animals are better dealt with in future. We will be seeking assistance from the SPCA and our staff will be trained on the proper ways to deal with such situations so that the animals’ welfare is not compromised and our passengers’ safety is assured.

The question of course, is do they walk the talk?

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.

World Animal Day Weekend – what it means for Singapore’s homeless cats

The first time I was aware something specific was mentioned about World Animal Day in Singapore’s media was 2 years ago:

(Google Anthony Lee Mui Yu, the writer of the second article, and you will get a list of letters written by this humanitarian on human-animal issues. A social worker, his compassion extends beyond people, as do many genuine humanitarians.)

Mary_20090815_010_DSC_0273x

Mary: All I want is to be left alone to enjoy my food

Besides the educational channels on cable, Animal Planet and NatGeo Wild, which are running specials to commemorate this World Animal Weekend, nothing seems to stir for the global plight of the animals, much less the ones living among us on this little red dot.

2 years , 730 days later, and still not much has changed: we, humans, are still going at breakneck speed, in terms of habitat destruction, polluting our living environment, poisoning the fishes, birds and land animals, including ourselves. There are slivers of hope here and there but nothing can’t change anything.

Since us minions are kitty slaves, let us leave the biggies to others, and take stock of what World Animal Day 2009 means for the kitties living in Singapore by touring the Singapore blogosphere:

  • How do you recover from this?
    “Two old aunties rushed down to AVA after they found out that their cats were caught. A mother and her baby.” They were made to choose to save either the mother or the kitten. Read the comments – a reader wrote to AVA and incredibly, got a response that say it did not happen despite the lack of specifics even in the post itself. The clincher is that the response even states caregivers are never forced to make such a choice. Large pinches of salt to go with AVA officialspeak that doesn’t quite wash.
  • Utter Lack of Compassion by SMRT Staff of Dhoby Gaut station
    A young cat was trapped in the NEL in Dhoby Ghaut station during the morning rush hour on 2 Oct 2009, Friday. Only 1 person bothered to detach herself out of the bustling commuter traffic to help the kitten. From the management to the on-site station staff, especially Mr Francisco Dela, showed an appalling lack, not only of compassion, but of competence and ability in the matter. As of now, the fate of the frightened kitten, who managed to disappear onto the tracks thanks to the uncaring attitude and ineptitude of the NEL’s station and cleaning staff, remains unknown.
  • Peacocks on Sentosa
    Proven car paint destroyers and chassis markers, male peacocks, which were introduced onto Sentosa island to add to “the wildlife” are tolerated for their hormone-driven antics, and the car drivers who park where they strut know that the peacocks are only doing their thang. On mainland Singapore, community cats, who are homeless, or free-ranging pet cats with a penchant for carparks or simply love 4 wheeled perches can die just for being caught cosying up to someone’s prized ride. In fact, cats have died from such complaints. Drivers bitten by the carpride bug just need to whine to get AVA to terminate the hapless kitties, or perhaps do it themselves.
  • TC report cards
    The town councils have muster to pass now. As noted by Dawn, there are still questions about the way this works. Already I have heard of stepped up culling in well managed areas with previously cooperative TCs.

Just 4 blogs in a few days, and they already encompass the issues plaguing the homeless animals of Singapore. Yes, there are some notches on the good side, eg MP got heart: Bedok Reservoir Cats saved from death, but there is still no heart in Singapore’s heartlands, both in terms of management and tolerance, nor can the misaligned red-taped choked bureaucratic hearts of Singapore’s leaders get the blood of community spirit past its anemic state. So much for the gahmen’s call for greater tolerance and personal responsibility. Until the Singapore gahmen accept reality and acknowledge that pet issues can’t be legislated away, that homeless animals and animal-related community complaints and conflicts are part of the SAME package, that among Singapore citizens are people aspiring to help animals, and humane methods exist and are effective, it’s the same dirge that accompanies the kitties terminated in Singapore, thanks to government agencies who clutch outdated rules like talismans and treat complainants like royalty to be pampered and mollycoddled, to the point of providing one-stop “service” encompassing free cat traps, cat collection, with no charge on the cost of the trapped cat’s termination (click here for the petition to stop this macabre service). It says quite something when even a global news agency has taken notice and does a feature on the Singapore cat situation.

Not every corner of Singapore is cat gestapo, and there are places where kitties are left unmolested, but the stale cocktail of half-heartedness about doing what’s right, the inertia to “fit in”, be seen as efficient and the eagerness to pander to complaints that continues to be forced down thinking Singaporeans’ throats keeps us in the revolving door, and leaves a foul taste in any intelligent person’s mouth. It doesn’t help that whinging Singaporeans hoodwink themselves about the fates of the cats they cause to be removed from their sights (with a healthy abetting dose from the authorities). Every Smalley among Singapore’s cats is one too many.


Addendum: Say It!

Reuters 20090129: Small, furry, outlawed: Singapore torn over cat rights

I like this. But I confess I was hoping to see a more in-depth article. But hey, international spotlight! Thanks to Ms Murdoch for casting some light where the HDB obstinately insist should remain dark, dank, and smelly. Dawn’s comments are great too (appended)

Small, furry, outlawed: Singapore torn over cat rights

Reuters – Thursday, January 29

By Gillian Murdoch

SINGAPORE, Jan 29 – Cat lovers in Singapore are campaigning for felines to have the same rights as dogs — a roof over their heads and a safe home.

For decades cats have been banned from Singapore’s high-density Housing and Development Board flats, which house more than 80 percent of the 4.6 million population.

Anyone caught breaking the rule faces a fine of Singapore $4,000 .

Khin, a healthcare worker, was forced to move homes after a housing official spotted her cat and snapped four or five photos of the feline sleeping “illegally” on her couch.

“I never dreamt I would have to move house to keep cats,” said Khin, who has no surname.

“Singapore is modern and they have rules to keep people harmonious but this is ridiculous.”

While some pet owners can afford to move to cat-friendly private housing, others cannot.

“Irresponsible owners would just dump them,” said Boon Yeong, one of a multitude of informal cat feeders who take it upon themselves to look after the estimated 60,000 strays living in Singapore’s storm drains, carparks, and alleyways.

Being thrown or born onto the streets can amount to a virtual death sentence, Yeong said.

FURRY FUGITIVES

Every year more than 10,000 strays are culled by the island’s authorities, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals .

Strays not rounded up and killed have a life expectancy of two to three years while indoor cats average about 20.

But with felines banned from the vast majority of homes, getting them off Singapore’s streets isn’t easy.

Some desperate cat lovers spend thousands of dollars to board “illegal” moggies, year-after-year, in non-profit cat shelters.

“It’s really a no-choice situation,” said Tay Sia Ping, the manager of the island’s biggest such cat shelter.

About a third of her 1,400 furry boarders were evicted from HDB apartments, she said. Few are ever adopted.

While Singapore’s cat lovers want the “cat ban” lifted, as it was for small dogs three decades ago, authorities say it is necessary to avoid cat-related spats between neighbours.

“Our principal consideration is to preserve a pleasant living environment and good neighbourly relations,” Singapore’s HDB told Reuters in an emailed statement.

“We need to strike a balance between pet lovers and those who are more sensitive to the disturbances caused by animals.”

HDB’s website says banning cats, not dogs, is justified, as “they are nomadic in nature and are difficult to be confined”.

Some 10,000 years after felines were first domesticated, easing human-cat tensions remains a “million dollar question”, said Kate Blaszak, Asia Veterinary Programmes Manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals .

The world’s first top-level meeting of cat population management experts, organised last year, did not identify any magic bullets, Blaszak said.

“One size does not fit all. What is effective and appropriate in one situation may in another,” she said.

In the meantime, supporters of Singapore’s strays say they are waiting for the cats’ death sentences to be lifted.

“Most people who have problems don’t want the cats to be killed, nor does killing the cats usually solve the problem,” said Singaporean cat welfare advocate Dawn Kua, one of many who blog about their plight

“No one is happy with the ‘solution’ — it’s just a knee jerk reaction without solving the underlying problem.”

Here’s Dawn‘s comments:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Same old excuse

Okay seriously now – how often is HDB going to trot out the tired excuse about cats being ‘nomadic by nature’ and ‘difficult to be confined’ to justify not changing the HDB rule?

Since this has been raised yet again, let me refute this one more time, especially for people who may have come to this blog for the first time :-

1. Cats are excellent apartment animals. Why? They don’t need to be walked and they are small. They entertain themselves. They are pretty quiet most of the time and are generally much quieter than dogs. More than 30 local vets signed letters attesting to the fact that they are wonderful for people in apartments.

2. What on earth is being nomadic by nature? If you let a dog, rabbit or child run around with supervision, I would not be at all surprised if they wandered out of an HDB flat too. Don’t believe me? Just leave that door open :)

3. This also applies to cats being difficult to confine. Really? My cats are all confined indoors and they don’t go out. Ever. It wasn’t difficult at all to keep them in. All it took was some time and effort on our part to cat proof the place. Think of it as akin to baby proofing a home.

I know many people who have cats who never, ever go out. Most responsible people with cats do not want their cats to wander in the first place – there are all manner of dangers out there. Also as responsible neighbours, many realise not everyone likes their cats as much as they do and that it is better to keep their cats indoors.

So instead of a ban how about just focusing on responsible pet ownership? The problem isn’t in the inherent nature of cats – it’s in the irresponsible behaviour of some cat owners. Plus right now what incentive is there for being responsible and keeping the cat in? It just means that if the HDB comes along any cat owner can be fined (or possibly evicted) if any cat, no matter how well kept, is found in their flat. If the cat is outdoors though, that isn’t a problem with the HDB at all – but it may be a huge problem for your neighbours.

What’s the solution? Allow people to keep cats – but ensure that these people are responsible. Make sure that the owners are responsible for sterilising their cats and keeping them indoors at all times. Also a limit could be imposed on how many cats are kept in a flat. This also allows the HDB to better use their resources to monitor genuine cases when there is a problem. Currently, they have to have to inspect flats every time there is a complaint, whether that complaint is valid or not. The mere presence of a cat is enough to get a cat owner into trouble – and also means that the rule can, and has been subverted, by neighbours to get even with each other. Instead of promoting harmony, this rule is doing the exact opposite.

Click on the blog post title to read the discussion.

Area2: Brielle’s back

Brielle returned last evening, around 5pm, from her de-mojo adventure. Seems like she coped better than we expected. V said that she was actually quite a nice docile kitten, and was easy to manage.

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Pre-release – crying for freedom

Brielle_20090208_003_DSCN4641x
Closeup

Later that night, A and J found her hanging with her sibs, who have been sterilised along with their Mum earlier, as if she’s been there all along, so it’s good news all around.

(Photos taken by btmao, as I wasn’t on-hand to assist. Goes to show what necessity is able to breed.)

Appeals: Pawpledge’s Project CCK (Choa Chu Kang) – the inspiration for it

Remember this appeal on pawledge we posted on 28 Jan 09?

Please read this, the reason for pawpledge’s Project CCK

Mother cat with 8 cm cut on abdomen

Mother cat with 8 cm cut on abdomen

Suffering at the highest degree…

I don’t know what to say but is vastly saddened by the recent Choa Chu Kang case where this tri-color calico cat was cut open. She was still alive when the caregiver found it, bleeding on the void deck. Her intestines were spilling out but the fighter was still clinging on to dear life. SPCA was notified and she was put down after the painful ordeal. Why does a poor innocent animal have to go through so much pain? And what dysfunction does one go through to bear dishing out so much suffering to a helpless animal? You can look at the SPCA appeal flyer for more information. (http://www.spca.org.sg/SPCAAppeal.pdf)

I can’t stop re-iterating the importance of STERILISATION (TNRM). Sterilisation helps reduce unwanted kittens, pregnant females, territorial behaviour in male cats, cat fights, mating calls, etc etc….everything that sickens and irritates people who don’t like cats / stray animals. Hopefully with less kittens, there’ll be less abuse.

SAYING is not enough, DOING is louder than words. PawPledge is committed to sterilising the cats at Choa Chu Kang. We hope that you will help us as much as you can. We will publish “Project CCK” update on our website for transparency purpose.

[Click here to continue reading]