CNA: Animals from improvised pet shelter at Farmart Centre being evacuated

CNA | Mar 4, 2013

Animals from improvised pet shelter at Farmart Centre being evacuated Qiuyi Tan

SINGAPORE: Volunteers have started evacuating close to 100 animals from an improvised pet shelter at Farmart Centre in Chua Chu Kang. Their caregiver, Ms Pauline Chin, died of an asthma attack on February 22. The volunteers said many of the orphaned animals needed medical attention. The critically ill have been sent to the vet, while the rest are being evacuated in batches to various shelters and individuals for adoption. Volunteers said there are close to 50 cats, 38 rabbits, four guinea pigs, and at two dogs. It is uncertain how long the animals have been sheltered at Farmart, but Ms Chin had been renting the space for the past 10 years. Several shops away from the shelter, Ms Chin owned a shop selling birds, at the back of which she kept the rabbits and guinea pigs. The back of the shop was also her bedroom. Reporters were not allowed into the rabbit shelter, but volunteers who were given access said conditions inside were far from satisfactory. “It’s dirty and smelly… Most of the rabbits need medication. Some of them already have scabies.” said Ms Jackie Fang, a volunteer with the House Rabbit Society. Tenants said Farmart Centre has been suffering from a chronic state of pet abandonment, and Ms Chin was singlehandedly caring for those left behind by their owners. Ms Chyanne Koh, a friend of Ms Chin, said 80 per cent of the animals were abandoned by their owners. Ms Koh said: “They just leave them outside her shop, or they’ve been let go outside her shop. By the time she comes out, she will have no choice but to bring them in for shelter, food and water.” After Ms Chin’s death, abandonment at the centre continued – a batch of more than 10 hamsters, mice and rabbits were the latest victims left near her shop in the early hours of Saturday morning. A committee tasked to review animal welfare law in Singapore has recently called for harsher penalties for animal abandonment and abuse. “I’d feel that public education is much more important. People need to be taught, you know, how bad is abandonment. Whenever you bring a pet home, you should treat it like family,” said Ms Fang. Authorities have fined Ms Chin four times since 2003, for keeping more than the approved number of animals, but the problem did not stop. Veron Lau, president of the Cat Welfare Society, said: “In a complex case like this one, where it involves an animal lover, we hope there had been a mediation and engagement process brought in earlier, so that the caregiver could have received the help they needed, the support they needed, before the situation spiralled.” The two dogs have been claimed by their owners, while the cats and rabbits will be treated and sterilised before they are put up for adoption. Volunteers said more than 100 people had shown up at the shelter asking to adopt the animals since news of Ms Chin’s death broke in late February. “We’re heartened to know so many people cared for the cats and wanted to help them,” said Ms Lau. “But on the flip side, it also attracted a lot of breeders who wanted to capitalise on this situation to get animals for breeding.” The Cat Welfare Society is running the first adoption drive for the Farmart cats at a roadshow in Toa Payoh Hub on March 16 and 17. The rabbits are not ready for adoption, said the House Rabbit Society, as they still show signs of illness. The society is currently seeking fosterers to care for the rabbits in the meantime. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority is monitoring the case closely. Source: CNA

Wanbao | Mar 3, 2013

The New Paper | Mar 3, 2013

Pet shop owner dies and leaves big mess Volunteers clean, feed hungry animals left in pet store and cat shelter Celine Chen

SINGAPORE – A pet shop owner died suddenly from a suspected asthma attack last Friday. The co-owner of E Pet Shop at Farmart Centre at Chua Chu Kang left behind birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and dogs. Madam Pauline Chin, 57, also had 40 cats. While the animals in the shop will be cared for by her partner, the cats are another story. They are kept in a makeshift shelter behind two neighbouring units which house other businesses. The owner of one of the businesses called up her friend, whom she knew to be a cat lover, and told her about the situation last Friday. The woman, who has four cats, went down immediately. Initially, she took care of the cats after work, from 10pm to 3am – she washed the cages, fed the cats and shaved their fur with two friends, who are also cat lovers. But when that proved too difficult, she took a leave of absence from work to give the cats her full attention. “I really pity the animals. I can’t bear to leave them in this condition,” said the woman, who declined to be named. “Nobody here knows how to take care of them.” She has spent $600 so far – out of her own pocket – buying cat food. The conditions of the shelter are poor: It is dark, stuffy and cramped; The wire-grill cages are rusty and not lined with proper bedding. The area is also poorly ventilated. There are two fans in the area, one of which is trained solely on a bulldog, which belonged to Madam Chin. The woman sent an e-mail to the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) about the situation. Around 10 individuals and CWS volunteers will be visiting the shelter this afternoon. They intend to groom the cats and administer medication to those with infections. They will earmark cats that require immediate medical treatment and schedule sterilisation for the rest. To ensure that the cats receive proper medical treatment, they will be calling for public donations. The cats will then be put up for adoption on the CWS website. Madam Chin has no close relatives, said Madam Carol Ang, a close friend of hers who runs a confectionary shop at Farmart Centre. “She has no sons or daughters and no husband. After she left, the pets were left on their own,” she said in Mandarin. Madam Chin’s partner, who declined to be named, said the pet shop animals will be cared for. She said: “Give us time to settle everything. The animals will be well taken care of.” Meanwhile, a Facebook page called Farmart Rescue was created on Wednesday, calling for people to save the animals. The result? People have been coming with cages and pliers after midnight, trying to prise the gates open, said the woman who has been caring for the cats. Breeders have also been pushing notes under the door to express their interest. But CWS president Veron Lau said: “This situation is getting out of hand. People are rushing down to the shop to get the animals, thinking it’s a free giveaway. “Even though it seems like a dire situation, I hope people don’t react emotionally. “I don’t want to have a frenzy of people coming forth to adopt the cats, as they need to be prepared for it and go through a proper adoption process.” Source: AsiaOne

Wanbao | Feb 27, 2013

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