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  Today Online 20 Jan 07
'Because cats scare me' is not a good reason
Letter from Tan Chek Wee

Today Online 19 Jan 07
Killing strays is not an act of kindness
Letter from Fiona Yuen

Today Online 16 Jan 07
A mayor's pet lesson FOR us

By Goh Boon Choo

Straits Times Forum 13 Jan 07
Link between AVA pest controllers and cat stranglers
Letter from Adriane Lee Swee Mun

Straits Times Forum 11 Jan 07
Start Kindness Movement by caring for local stray cats
Letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee

Straits Times Forum 11 Jan 07
Collective community effort needed to curb animal abuse
Letter from Neo Kai Ling (Ms)

Straits Times Forum 11 Jan 07
Stop animal abuse by teaching kindness, empathy
Letter from Khoo Hwee Boon (Ms)

WAS aghast when I read the article, 'Cat strangled with nylon string' (ST, Jan 8).

When will such abuse stop? Or have we become apathetic to such cruel acts?

A gracious society is not made up of just educated citizens, green trees, beautiful parks and the latest infrastructure. There is also humanity, kindness and empathy towards our fellow human beings and other occupants of this earth. Or have we forgotten this?

Killing for the sake of killing or for pleasure is plain wrong and deserves the strongest punishment. While justice is meted out to humans, our animal friends seem to deserve less of this justice.

The maximum penalty for animal cruelty is a $10,000 fine and up to 12 months' jail. I can recall only one instance where an abuser was sentenced to a year in jail.

I believe this problem can be tackled at two levels. The government authorities can teach kindness and empathy through campaigns and education. Set an example against killing; instead of culling strays, why not consider a humane method to control the stray population?

Or start a kindness movement in school that encourages children to interact, play with and care for small animals.

As parents, siblings and friends, we can educate and impress on others the importance of humanity, kindness and respect for life - both human and animal.

Until we achieve this, we cannot call ourselves a gracious society.

Straits Times Forum 11 Jan 07
Start Kindness Movement by caring for local stray cats
Letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee

I refer to the report Jan 8, 2007 "Cat strangled with nylon string".

A few days ago, I was walking behind a little girl, aged about seven year-old, accompanied by an elderly lady in her 70's, presumably her grandmother. They passed by a sterilized tipped ear community cat. The little girl screamed and made threatening gestures at the cat who ran to hide amongst the bicycles parked in the void deck of a block of HDB flats. The grandmother stood nearby and awaited, apathetically.

The following day, I passed by an elderly Peranakan lady, also in her 70's, who was feeding another sterilized tipped ear community cat at the same void deck, responsibly with shredded fish placed on a piece of paper (see attached photo). She said she "sayang" ("love") the community cats who gave her much joy in her old age. She said that sometimes she has to "marah" ("scold") the children from the nearby primary school, for hurting the cats.

I think we can longer ignore the symptom of animal abuse such as what had happened to this cat at Simei - strangled with nylon string.

How can we hypocritically claim to be a civilized society when such symptom of barbarism is occuring so often?

How can we inculcate kindness in our children when on a national level we are killing 13,000 cats every year, assisted with free loan of cat traps from the AVA and some Town Council officers freely engaging pest control firms to trap cats to be killed in respond to feeback from residents about cats?

Let's start a pro-active Kindness Movement by involving grass-root resources such as the schools, the RC's and Community Clubs to impart EMPATHY in our children as well as their adult guardians with project that involves the care of the community cats.

Such program is a good antidote to the current perception that the young people nowadays are too engrossed with their self-satiation.

Learning to be kind in children will also teach them to the kind to the increasing number of Singaporeans who are greying and perceived by some youngters to be "old, frail and useless".

Perhaps this is how some people view the stray cats as well.

Straits Times Forum 11 Jan 07
Collective community effort needed to curb animal abuse
Letter from Neo Kai Ling (Ms)

I refer to the article 'Cat strangled with nylon string' (ST, 8 Jan 06) and cannot help feeling sickened at how animal abuse has happened yet again.

To prevent such cases from happening, I wish to propose that we promote a 'collective community' towards helping the animals in our midst.

It is crucial to find the culprit responsible for the abuse so that future acts will not be repeated.

We only attempt to find the culprit after such issues happen, but how much have we done to prevent animal abuse?

For too long, cats on the streets have been assumed to be the under the care of NGOs like the SPCA and Cat Welfare Society. The government assumes a passive role in animal issues, and only steps in to cull cats (this is not animal welfare) or investigate cases of animal abuse.

So much more can be done by the government; such as giving resources towards sterilization efforts, so that the number of cats can be reduced in the long term, that translating into fewer cats vulnerable to abuse.

Besides that, cats should also be part of the collective community and responsibility of ordinary citizens like you and me.

This means first, we do not complain about them to the Town Council that leads to the cats being culled.

Second, we should not abuse cats even if we do not like them. It always pains me to see children throwing things or shouting at cats to scare them off.

Third, we should encourage the formation of networks of resident volunteers to help look after the welfare of cats - sterilizing them and feeding responsibly.

Having networks of resident volunteers also help build community ties across race, religion and gender - neighbourliness that is lamented to be missing as seen in the report 'Community ties: It's the basics that count' (ST, 8 Jan 06).

For too long, some have assumed that 'stray' cats should be under the care of those who 'like them' and should 'bring them home', without due consideration of the feasibility of doing so.

This mentality should change as our society matures. As a youth, I hope to see more kind acts towards animals manifested in everyday spaces and a collective responsibility towards helping animals in our midst. This will curb animal abuse in the long term.

Straits Times Forum 13 Jan 07
Link between AVA pest controllers and cat stranglers
Letter from Adriane Lee Swee Mun

IN SINGAPORE, when crows are seen feeding from hawker centre tables, the next thing you see is shooters from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) with shot guns shooting crows from the sky.

In Singapore, when flocks of pigeons are seen congregating, the next thing you see is flocks of dead pigeons poisoned by the AVA in the name of pest control.

In Singapore, when cats are seen sleeping on car bonnets or wandering in the neighbourhood, the next thing you see is a pest control vehicle rumbling off to the AVA with cages of 'pests' to be put to sleep.

Hence, it is no surprise to see the occasional cat beaten, or in the latest incident strangled. After all, if the answer to every 'pest' is summary execution, the perpetrator of the latest spate of cat abuse is merely repeating what the authorities are doing - taking matters into his own hands and engaging in 'pest control'.

Perhaps it is time for the authorities to rethink their methods to prevent more copycat actions by members of the public.

Today Online 16 Jan 07
A mayor's pet lesson FOR us

By Goh Boon Choo

ONCE again, a homeless cat has been brutally killed. A newspaper reported that on Dec 29, the dead cat was found hanging on a staircase railing of Block 245, Simei Street. According to Cat Welfare Society operations director Dawn Kua, the cat was seen alive at 5pm. An hour later, it was dead.

This audacious crime, committed in broad daylight, comes on the heels of several well-publicised cases. David Hooi Ying Weng, the twice-arrested kitten basher, is still serving a one-year sentence. Malaysian Wong Geng Thong, the serial cat killer of Old Airport Road, has been deported after his two-month sentence ended. The brutal Jurong East cat killer(s) are still at large, and dead cats continue to be found. Public outcry follows these cases.

And perhaps awareness of animal abuse and cruelty has risen because of these horrific crimes. The issue has caught the attention of Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong who paid some attention to it in conceptualising the Community Court.

But all this does not seem to have deterred abusers. How can Singapore stop the cruelty?

The authorities always seem to rally around the twin slogans of education and public civic-mindedness when replying to questions about cruelty and other animal issues. This penchant to leave it to the people is quintessentially a Singapore Government modus operandus. But the Singaporean penchant to follow the authorities' cue is equally quintessential.

Early this month, Time magazine published the story of how the city of Albuquerque, in the United States, is fighting its homeless animal problem.

Leading the fight is Albuquerque's Mayor Martin Chavez. He takes his mongrel, Dukes, to work with him. He has made the ending of euthanasia in the city's shelters a goal. Dukes' presence in his office highlights his commitment to tackling the unwanted animal population.

The mayor of Albuquerque is not alone in his compassion. Apparently, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes feral kittens home to socialise them before they are put up for adoption in Ottawa's shelters.

Incidentally, a feral cat colony has existed on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for many years. An 81-year-old volunteer feeds them, and has built living structures for them. The Canadian government features it as an attraction and the cats are sterilised and treated by doctors.

Mayor Chavez aims to make Albuquerque a city where all animals suited for adoption will have homes. He said: "We can't be a complete city as long as we euthanise animals."

To highlight their woes, he takes shelter animals to public events. Time reported that these animals often find new homes on the spot. It has only been two years since Mayor Chavez started tackling the homeless animal problem--the city's euthanasia rate has halved, and Albuquerque now adopts out more animals than it kills.

The might of influence cannot be denied. Beyond the confines of rules and procedures, the authorities do have roles to play in tackling Singapore's apathy and animal abuse.

The writer is a Singaporean concerned with animal and environmental issues.

Today Online 19 Jan 07
Killing strays is not an act of kindness
Letter from Fiona Yuen

I agree with the letter writer of "A mayor's pet lesson for us" (Jan 16).

The town councils, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) should learn from Albuquerque's Mayor Martin Chavez and the Canadian authorities.

Whenever there are complaints about stray cats or dogs, town councils call the pest controllers to round up every cat or dog in the area and send them to AVA to be killed.

But this does not solve the problem, and only results in a waste of taxpayers' money and the animals' lives. Sometimes, injured or poisoned animals escape to die slow and painful deaths. How is this humane?

And yet AVA promotes kindness to animals.

AVA should guide town councils to work with welfare organisations such as the Cat Welfare Society to sterilise the strays and provide feeding shelters.

If Albuquerque can reduce the number of animals it puts to sleep and increase the number adopted, I don't understand why the SPCA has to kill more than 90 per cent of the animals it receives.

I find it touching that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper helps make feral kittens adoptable. Why can't we show a bit more empathy to animals too?

Animals may not have an economic value, but that does not mean their lives are worthless.

Today Online 20 Jan 07
'Because cats scare me' is not a good reason
Letter from Tan Chek Wee

I REFER to Ms Goh Boon Choo's letter, "A mayor's pet lesson for us" (Jan 16).

About 13,000 cats are killed every year at the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore ( AVA) at public expense of more than half a million dollars.

Such unrelenting killing is facilitated by the free loan of cat traps that also includes free delivery and pickup. Some Town Council officers also contribute to this killing of cats by engaging pest controllers to round up cats to be killed at the AVA as the default response to complaints about cats.

Concerned citizens who wrote to the AVA appealing for extensive sterilisation as a humane method of reducing the population of stray animals continued to receive AVA's reply on its unwavering stand that culling is a necessary "sin" in the control of stray animals.

The Town Councils must change their mindset in managing feedback on cats.

The latest posting on Cat Welfare Society director of operations Dawn Kua's blog at catwelfare. blogspot.com featured an HDB resident who wanted the Town Council to remove cats because she was afraid of cats. She was also afraid of lizards and dogs.

Town Councils must stop pandering to unreasonable requests.

Perhaps residents like me who want cats to be part of our estate should "complain" to the Town Council that we want community cats to be around. I think the presence of community cats in an estate is far less dangerous than some of our own species we see hanging around in our estates.

We need to do a "post-mortem" on the way we treat stray animals here in Singapore. We need to work for the welfare of the stray animals without having to hide the word "kill" with "cull" and " humanely euthanise".

Let's make our little island a model of efficient and humane management of its stray animals.

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