More keen to adopt cats and rabbits as pets

Straits Times | Dec 6, 2012 D

og-related rows? Group to mediate David Ee

SINGAPORE – From next month, an animal welfare group will mediate in disputes between dog owners and their neighbours in some public estates. The Agency for Animal Welfare (AAW) will begin its extended role in a handful of constituencies where MPs are supportive. The group is also exploring the option of partnering the Community Mediation Centre and the Singapore Kindness Movement. It declined to reveal more details, citing ongoing discussions. Ms Eunice Nah, the AAW’s chief advocate, said that the group has observed an increase in complaints – on social media and in online forums – against dog owners. Figures from the Housing Board also show that animal noise complaints to the board nearly tripled from 300 cases last year to 830 cases in the year to date. The group was moved to act, Ms Nah said, to find “reasonable solutions” where disagreements between neighbours do not always result in pet dogs being evicted. “Some (of the complaints) are related to owners being unwilling to guide their dogs well, while others are unsubstantiated,” she said. It was therefore vital, she said, to help both parties exercise patience, and to understand and handle dog behaviour better. For example, she said, dog owners should be reminded to clean up after their dogs defecate in public. Children could also be taught not to run or scream when they see dogs, as dogs may bark out of fear when this happens. Their barking, she said, is a defensive reaction, not an offensive one. She said: “This kind of knowledge can help calm a neighbourhood and build relationships between neighbours. We can’t help everyone but we will try to help as many as we can.” The group will take on cases referred by participating MPs and town councils. It will not occupy physical premises in estates, and will visit families when necessary with its current team of 18 volunteers, which it aims to increase. A number of MPs whom The Straits Times contacted voiced their support for the AAW’s intervention. Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, said: “They may be able to persuade the parties in a dispute as they come with some understanding of the issues.” Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari was also supportive. But Ms Lee said that the group may face a challenge finding enough volunteers able to devote their time to the task. Ms Veron Lau, president of the Cat Welfare Society, said that finding enough volunteers was “very difficult”. The society has been mediating in community cat issues islandwide since 1999 with the help of some 20 volunteers. She said: “It’s not a job that everyone can do. They need people who can keep calm and find solutions even when abuse is hurled at them.” Mrs Violet Leong, 48, a dog owner who lives in Woodlands, welcomed the move as a means to ensure not only that neighbours get along, but also that pets are treated fairly. “Evicting a pet just because neighbours complain isn’t very fair to the pet either,” she said. Source: AsiaOne

MyPaper | Mar 5, 2012

More keen to adopt cats and rabbits as pets Sophie Hong

After friendly encounters with stray cats near his home in Ang Mo Kio, cat lover Lynx Ng thought that it was time to take a leap of faith and get one as a pet. But, instead of heading to the nearest pet shop, the writer decided to drop by a cat-adoption drive jointly organised by non-profit organisation Pet Lovers Foundation and an animal-welfare group, Cat Welfare Society (CWS). It was held at the VivoCity branch of the Pet Safari pet shop yesterday. A total of 27 cats and one rabbit were up for adoption. “If you buy a cat, you encourage a trade, which means that cats will be imported unnecessarily,” said Mr Ng. Two animal-welfare groups that my paper spoke to said that their efforts in spreading the “Adopt, Don’t Buy” message seem to have paid off, as would-be owners are increasingly turning to animal shelters when looking for a pet. CWS vice-president Veron Lau said that there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of people expressing interest in adopting a cat last year, compared to 2010. At a three-month- long adoption drive held last year alone, CWS found new homes for nearly 50 cats. Potential adopters are also getting more well-informed, observed Ms Lau. The House Rabbit Society of Singapore also reported an increase in the number of would-be adopters. It saw an average of three successful adoptions every month last year, compared to previous years, when there were two or fewer each month. While there has been an increase in the number of would-be adopters for cats and rabbits, the numbers are dismal for man’s best friend. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) reported only a 3 to 5 per cent increase in dog adoptions last year, compared to 2010. Meanwhile, Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) saw such numbers plummet. ASD president Ricky Yeo said that, in a good year, about 100 to 120 dogs get adopted, but the rate has been dwindling over the last few years to about 60 dogs last year. Said Mr Yeo: “Adoption awareness has definitely gone up but, at the same time, the demand for buying a dog at a pet store has also gone up.” Said Ms Corrine Fong, SPCA’s executive director: “People are aware that there is the adoption option, but they still buy puppies under the illusion that they are much better than older dogs.” Source: AsiaOne

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