AVA’s expectedly template non-response to Today 20090120: The outspoken doc
What’s interesting is the online response (which I’ve appended). Glad to see more and different names speaking up.
No easy solution for strays
A combination of measures are used to manage animal population here
11:57 AM January 30, 2009
Letter from Goh Shih Yong
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications for Chief Executive Officer,
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority:
We refer to the article “The outspoken doc” (Jan 20).Stray animal population control is a complex issue and there are no easy solutions.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is fully committed to ensuring animal health and welfare and has adopted a balanced approach in the management of strays.
For dogs, all must be licensed for the purpose of rabies control. Rabies is a disease fatal to man. It is endemic in this region. AVA culls stray dogs to manage the risk of rabies transmission should the disease be introduced into Singapore.
As all dogs, whether sterilised or not, are susceptible to rabies, sterilised strays should be properly homed and licensed, and not be returned to the environment.
For cats, AVA encourages sterilisation as a way to help prevent the proliferation of strays.
This alone, however, is not enough. 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.
It is thus inevitable that culling has to be carried out as an additional measure to keep the stray population in check.
AVA and the Town Councils (TC) are open to working together with the community and the caregivers in looking at keeping the stray cat population manageable.
In any precinct, caregivers wanting to start a sterilisation programme for stray cats should approach and work with the TC, as the TC is in a better position to understand the concerns of the majority of its residents.
We believe, above all, that public education on responsible pet ownership is key to reducing the problem of strays.
To this end, AVA actively promotes and organises campaigns on responsible pet ownership. We are confident that with perseverance, there will be an improvement to the stray animals problem in the longer term.
We thank Dr Tan Chek Wee for his passion and commitment in helping in the management of stray cats in the community.
We are equally appreciative of the same effort put in by many other caregivers in their own communities.
While the AVA and TC will continue to work together with the community and the caregivers, we must also balance the interest of all sectors in the community, including those who are adversely affected by stray cats.
Cats do have a tendency to wander around as their territory covers a large area and not just your flat, even if it’s a 5-roomed one. It’s uncommon to have cats on leashes, so how else is an owner supposed to keep the cat confined to the house? Shut the windows at all times? Lock the cat in a room? I suppose to people who dislike cats, they may be afraid that cats would soil their doorsteps or the corridor. Generally, that is an unfounded fear as domestic cats would prefer using their litterboxes at home. It’s not difficult to train them as well, especially from young. But try telling this to someone who doesn’t like cats. I doubt they’d want to listen or learn more about something they dislike. The only problem may be when cats spray to mark their territories. Even so, I don’t believe they would do so outside of the flat. In the very off chance that they do, neutering can be considered. But do owners want to do that? Not all are willing to.
Shame on AVA for propagating misinformation. No wonder people still believe that stray animals will give them all kinds of diseases, despite evidence to the contrary. Killing sterilized animals is counterproductive yet AVA continues to do so, causing volunteers’ time and efforts to go down the drain. Rehoming all strays is impossible since no one has that kind of money or resources. Anyone with common sense will see that this is an unreasonable request.
I have looked after multiple cats who were ex-‘strays’ over 5 decades and i would like to know what “hygiene concerns and physical threats” Mr Goh is referring about. Please give examples. Thanks to the past efforts of PPD/AVA, Singapore has been rabies-free for the past 53 yrs. That means existing dogs in SG are free from rabies. Why cull them for what they do NOT have? If rabies is ‘endemic in this region’, then stop importing dogs from other countries for sale. Many of these dogs are abandoned after the sale and they add to the ‘stray’ population. Allow cats in hdb flats and the ‘stray cat problem’ may go away faster than the endless culling that had been going on for years without result. Pet ownership has to be taught and irresponsible owners will have to 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.
“Singapore has been free from rabies since 1953.” This is from ava website http://www.ava.gov.sg/NewsEvents/PressReleases/2000/Pet Dogs and Cats From Singapore Permitted For Export to UK Without Quarantine.htm Mr Goh is concerned about rabies which has not been found in dogs in SG for the past 55 yrs. If rabies is “endemic in this region”, imported dogs (esp imported pedigree dogs brought into SG by petshops for sale) should be the ones to be strictly inspected
Declaring something a fact doesn’t make it so. What physical threats do cats pose? Death by purring? Mr Goh talks about education. How can the public learn to be responsible when it isn’t even allowed to keep cats as pets in HDB flats? It’s hard for Singaporeans to learn how to be responsible owners when many of them aren’t even given the right to BE owners.
I do not understand neither what physical threats there could be from the stray cats nor which members in our community are adversely affected by them. What about the subject of animal welfare that falls under the responsibility of AVA? Are strays not animal? What about the welfare of those abused or cruelly killed by our community? Whose interests is AVA actually looking after? Are they getting a liitle off the track?
Stray cats causing physical threats?? Who are those in our community adversely affected by the strays? What about the animals welfare? Are cases of strays abused by those in our community not a direct concern under AVA? Is AVA taking the easy way out to please the louder voices?
Ms Winnie Ta
I am one of the caregivers in Ang Mo Kio North. I have spent thousands of dollars spaying street cats. I even sent them to the vets for medical treatments. Some were badly abused by cruel people in the neighhourhood and some injured by motor vehicles. I am making the environment more pleasant for all the residents here. If there is a complaint from the resident, I will remove the cat and put it elsewhere such as, in a pet farm. I use my own savings to save the street cats. I don’t get donations from the public. I have put in so much efforts, time and money in saving the environment. At least, your authority should understand this and act appropriately with care and consideration. Thank you.