TODAY 20090202: Responses to AVA’s template response

4 public response to AVA’s expectedly template non-response to Today 20090120: The outspoken doc Letter 1

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Doc makes a difference

09:57 AM February 2, 2009

Letter from Chia Ly Tseng

I would like to thank Agatha Koh Brazil for her insightful article “The Outspoken Doc” (Jan 18)

Though I have never met Dr Tan personally, I had the pleasure of interacting with him via email when I was a member of the Cat Welfare Society several years ago. I had no idea he was a doctor ( being the humble person he is, he always signed off as “Chek Wee”) until I chanced upon a letter he had written to a local newspaper one day voicing his unhappiness about the Town Council cat-culling issue. Thereafter I always kept a lookout for his letters to the press, as I found it intriguing that a busy doctor would invest so much time and effort in causes which not many people would give a second thought to.

Many things about Dr Tan impress me but what I most admire is his courage and willingness to speak out about issues that concern the underprivileged and the defenceless, from which he stands to gain nothing materially. In a society which has earned a reputation for apathy and self-centreness, Dr Tan makes a difference – and for that we should all be grateful.

Thank you Dr Tan.


Karl Lim
Many Singaporeans have already commented that a society that turns a blind eye to the plight of the disadvantaged and underprivileged cannot be a gracious society.

Letter 2

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Cat management courses for Town Council officers

11:57 AM February 2, 2009

Letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee

I refer to “No easy solution for strays” (Jan 30).

The AVA’s stand is “It is a fact that stray cats, including sterilised ones, create numerous disamenities to the public, ranging from nuisance to hygiene concerns, even physical threat”.

The experience of caregivers like myself and Ms Dawn Kua when she was with the Cat Welfare Society (CWS), (whose experiences are still available on her blog at indicate that many complaints arise from irresponsible cat owners who let their pets roam and irresponsible feeders, such as those who lure cats upstairs to feed them.

I have spoken to complainants who said they did not want cats culled.

Problems have been and can be solved without culling, if Town Council (TC) officers are guided on how to approach cat-related feedback.

At the moment, I believe TC officers do not attend formal training on this aspect of their jobs, and hence some resort to culling as a default solution.

I suggest that the AVA, with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and CWS, organise courses on “cat management” so that these officers can carry out their jobs more effectively.

As for physical threat, it is a fact that cats rarely attack unprovoked.

A father in my estate complained to the TC that his daughter was attacked but fortunately, a senior property officer interviewed residents who bore witness that the cat had not been known to be aggressive.

We cannot take complaints of “physical threat” at face value.

It is often the complainants who provoke cats to attack.

Perhaps the AVA can include “how to approach community cats correctly” in its public education.

As for the call for AVA and TC to work with the caregivers, we are, and the TC as well, waiting for clear guidelines on how caregivers can apply for sterilisation disbursement.

So far, the TC officers I have emailed are in the dark about this disbursement scheme..

Letter 3

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Give sterilisation a chance
It’s better for cats’ health, reduces aggressiveness and eradicates need to cull

11:57 AM February 2, 2009

Letter from Joanna Hughes

I refer to “No easy solution for strays” (Jan 30).

I was at first enheartened that the :AVA had finally come to recognise the importance of sterilisation. But the let-down came immediately after. Stray cats a physical threat? Or a cause of “disamenities”, whatever they are?

I live in an urban area, where I have to put up with drunks who pass out on my porch, fights, dirty diapers left next to the rubbish bins and directly in my path, spitters, smokers, loud people of every description, loud motorbikes in need of tune-ups and mufflers, blocked drains that have to be pumped out — ah, the sounds and smells of urban life …

But there are also community cats who, unless they are having a small dust-up over food or territory, are quiet, generally smell-free and friendly — and if not human-oriented, shy and retiring.

We live through this and adjust to the minor inconveniences they cause.

Yes, cats do fight. The ones who fight are the ones who are not sterilised; the ones who spray urine, ditto.

It’s very simple: Sterilise. Sterilisation reduces much of the aggro that hormones cause (take for example, teenagers who join gangs and beat up others for “staring” at them).

Sterilised cats live longer and healthier lives, create relationships with those who live around them and keep down the vermin population (there was a media report about rats on Orchard Road).

There is more that can be done. One is to give community carers a break — time to work with owners of unsterilised cats, time to get them caught, neutered and help with transport and costs of sterilisation.

Another is to allow HDB dwellers to keep cats, provided they are licensed and neutered. (By the way, let’s make sterilisation part of the licensing requirement for pet dogs, too.)

Finally, to help educate the public about cats: That there are simple ways to deal with “disamenities” (such as putting out mothballs to discourage cats from pooping in pot plants or corners); that cats are not “dirty”, that cats are not aggressive unless threatened; that civilised and gracious people do not kick, punch or torture other living beings, nor do they lobby for their destruction.


Jen Lim
There are too many myths, superstitions

Yes, why not give sterilisation a chance? The town councils need to join hands with the public to make this work first by not removing/culling sterilised strays just because some HDB dwellers are adverse to cats; second by supporting care givers in their sterilisation efforts (this worked with great results before the bird flu broke – the stray population at TP Lorong 8 stabilised and cats were much healthier and scavenged less for food); third, by penalising irresponsible care givers who foul the public area in their feeding (this is the nub of the problem, not the cats). Sterilisation is a successful solution adopted by many developed countries and even in some developing countries – so why can’t Singapore show maturity in our response to this stray animal problem by finding a practical and yet humane solution.

Letter 4

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points of view

11:57 AM February 2, 2009

I am a cat caregiver in Ang Mo Kio North. I have spent thousands of dollars spaying street cats and sending them to vets for medical treatment.

Some are badly abused and injured by vehicles. If there are complaints, I will remove the cat and put it elsewhere such as a pet farm. I use my own savings and don’t receive public donations. I have put in much effort, time and money, and the AVA should understand this and act appropriately with care and consideration.

I have looked after multiple stray cats over five decades and wish to know what “hygiene concerns and physical threats” the AVA is referring to. Thanks to the Primary Production Department/AVA, Singapore has been rabies-free for the past 55 years.

We should allow cats in HDB flats and the stray cat problem may be resolved faster than with the use of culling.

Pet ownership has to be taught and irresponsible owners must be fined. Dogs are allowed in HDB flats, why not cats? Dogs are no more ‘nomadic’ than cats. Constant repetition that cats are ‘nomadic’ does not make that a fact.

Comments mrs tan s.h. Strays dogs and cats should be sterilised, fed and managed by feeders and caregivers. They are part of our community. These animals must be given a chance to live. Life on the street is extremely harsh on them. We must be kind to these animals. Do not take away their precious lives. We must be kind to animals. Nandita Thank you “Today” for reviving the topic of managing stray cats/dogs.At the outset all animal lovers should refrain from making this a cat vs dogs issue.If there is an issue, it is about the irresponsible behaviour we humans have towards the cats/dogs or any pet in general. I totally agree with the view that these stray cats/dogs do not pose any threat to the society and the AVA should be considerate towards their welfare. On that note, if culling of stray dogs/cats is necessary then so is restricting/banning the bringing of pets such as Husky, St.Bernard etc. One just has to go to the animal shelters and see how many of them are languishing in the cells abandoned by their owners for the “high cost of maintenance”. Let us come together and pledge support to the welfare of our pets.Whether a stray or domesticated – animals are a part of our lives that we live in.Our urbanisation should not be at the cost of their lives. There should be more encouragement to adopt strays,sterilisation,premium bus services where animals can travel with the owners, garbage management (as it attracts strays) and stringent measures against those who abuse


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