In addition to this letter-writer, another friend had also sent in her thoughts about the pet-rules too. Unfortunately, it seems like the media chooses not to publish her letter. The baffling question is “Why?”
Here it is (emphasis mine):
I live in a HDB flat. As a Muslim and an animal-lover, I have read the article, “Pet Project: Let’s Work Together” with great interest. I agree HDB should work with the relevant bodies for truly effective management of pet issues.It is a common knowledge that dogs are haram as pets for Muslims. On the other hand, cats are popular choices among us, not least because of our respect for the cat’s significance to the Prophet Muhammad.
Therefore, the HDB pet rules are not fair to Muslims who want interactive pets that are not confined to cages, like rabbits or hamsters.
I am a responsible cat owner – I sterilize my cats and keep them strictly indoors. Quite the opposite from the HDB excuse for banning cats, my pets are quiet and happy to remain indoors, especially after being sterilized. Instead of causing nuisance, my cats have helped create closer relationship with my neighbours, especially their children, who ask to see and pet my cats.
But I also do trap-neuter-release management for the community cats in my neighbourhood, so I can empathise with HDB residents who have problems with irresponsible pet owners. Sadly, I find in my fellow Muslims who own cats a shocking blasé attitude about the basics of responsible cat ownership, which is tantamount to ill-treatment.
Prophet Muhammad spoke specifically about the importance of kindness to animals on many occasions. In fact, “Fear Allah in your ill-treatment of animals” is one of my favourite sayings from Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore Prophet Muhammad stated that there is heavenly reward for every act of kindness done to a living animal.
However, many Muslims who keep cats refuse to sterilize their pets and allow these virile cats to wander. So nuisance is created when the cats defecate outside other people’s homes or caterwaul during mating or territorial fights, and also add to the cat population in the community.
To tackle the problem, at least with regards to cats, HDB has to acknowledge that many HDB residents, especially Muslims, do have pet cats. HDB also has to recognize that nuisance caused by pet cats is due to irresponsible pet owners who do not sterilize or keep their cats indoors. Banning cats does not stop such irresponsible people from simply abandoning their cats if someone complains to the HDB.
HDB must rethink its pet-rules.