The situation for Singapore’s community cats and cat caregivers is anything but rosy. But we’re not unique in our situation. For example, in the state of California, the perceived American forerunner of of animal welfare, Alley Cat Allies successfully called on residents to help repeal a bill that would have been detrimental to the work that caregivers were doing and to the cats themselves.
What does this say? That bad things can happen anywhere. And also that they can be pushed back. Here in Singapore, we may have a tougher time of it… due to inertia in the Singapore leadership and bureaucracy, but the people on the street, the ones who roll up their sleeves and DO SOMETHING, have a part to play too. Nothing is going to happen if we don’t do something, as in take measures that is required of the situation, for example speak up.
Efforts to get HDB to review its unreasonable ban against cats are still leaving advocates gnashing teeth and nursing headaches. But ACRES‘s role in the successful effort to up the penalties for wildlife smuggling shows it may not all be lost causes we champion.
So what can we do? Dawn says it all:
Wednesday, October 7, 2009There was some confusion about which rail operative was involved, and it seems that it was not SMRT identified, as the letter writer originally stated, but SBS Transit. Full disclosure : I have a relative who works for SBS Transit – but my opinion on the subject remains the same.
It’s good to hear from this letter that SBS transit acknowledged that they made a mistake in the handling of this case, and that they will be meeting with the SPCA to work out a proper way of handling this situation. Apparently they mentioned having rescued some dogs from the station in the past. Even if there was already a protocol in place as the letter stated, it is certainly good to have a refresher, and to remind the staff (who clearly didn’t know about it). It’s also heartening to hear that they haven’t found a dead cat on the tracks. I spoke to someone who told me that there are apparently a lot of ventilation holes in the tunnels – hopefully the cat was able to escape out of one of them.
I’m so sorry to hear about this case, and about the cat that wasn’t saved but it does also bring to mind several issues. The writer in the MRT case wrote in and demanded accountability – and she did get it.
On the other hand, the aunties in the case mentioned above, didn’t, for whatever reason. I can understand they might be frightened or scared but that doesn’t help them or the cats. Neither does bringing the case up long after it happened.
The point is this – if a situation like this happens, someone has to ask for accountability, and it has to be the person whom it happened to. Imagine if the writer at the MRT station had told a friend about it, and asked that friend to write in, months or years after the fact. All of us responded especially to the situation because it had happened to the writer herself – and she was able to give specific details of what happened, and when. It also added an urgency to the case because obviously it mattered so much to her, that she wrote in right away, when the details were still fresh in her mind. It also adds credibility because she came forward herself and identified herself.
On the other hand, this case in AVA, sad as it is, made me wonder – why didn’t the people involve come forward? Also, why didn’t they do so sooner?
If the women were frightened for their own (and their cats’) sakes, then their cat was already killed – honestly, what could be worse? The worst thing had already happened.
If the issue was that they felt that it didn’t matter anymore – and it obviously does still matter to these aunties because they are still scarred by the event – then it could very well matter to the next cats which are caught. If the AVA staffer is still there, then it could well happen to the next person whose cats are caught. At the very least, what seems to be from the (admittedly second or third hand) account, a seemingly arbitrary decision could have been queried.
Right now, it’s hard to see what can be done. It’s like the many times we hear of people complain of animal abuse – but that they can’t ‘do anything’ and so they tell their friends who then try to go to the police. Obviously this can’t be done because the police need an actual eyewitness – and it’s clear to see why. Any news passed down second or third hand will get distorted – ever played ‘broken telephone’?
If someone’s home is broken into, I doubt most people would not file a report, or go to the police. Then why the difference with cats? I can understand that this might be the case with the general public – but I’m sure to most of us, a cat’s life is more important than any property. We have to put aside this fear or reluctance to speak up. We have already seen that there are many caregivers and people concerned about cats who are willing to back witnesses up and give them support in terms of letters and phone calls. There is a community that will support caregivers – and we’ve seen that time and again.
At the end of the day, if we don’t speak up for the cats, then who will?
We really really do need to learn to speak up. It may not work all the time, but if we keep at it, sooner or later, something has to click. For us minions, our perennial frustrations is in convincing caregivers in the town to band together and work with each other and present a united front to the power-that-be. If you are in a cooperative group, treasure it.