Friday, April 18, 2008

ST (17-4-08)

I neglected to post this yesterday. Unfortunately attacks by dogs are not uncommon - many of the dogs themselves have been abandoned or used to be fed and are now left to fend for themselves. These dogs then join packs and it is really when they are in packs that they may attack.

While I really do sympathise with the caregivers who are losing cats, I fear it may go down a dangerous slippery slope. If people start complaining that cats are killing birds next, then are they the next ones to get rounded up and killed? During SARS, that was the argument used - that cat might cause disease (which could harm people - an even more untenable position for the cats) and hence this was the rationale behind rounding up and killing them.

There are no easy answers to this - when I spoke to Action for Singapore Dogs about attacks they suggested trying to break up the pack by scaring the pack leader off. When the alpha male runs, the rest of the pack will disintergrate The only successful case that I know of when the dogs didn't come back was when a group of caregivers stood guard at night - when the dogs approached, they went down with waterguns and pots and pans and make such a racket that the dogs were scared of.

I do realise it is a difficult decision for the caregivers though and they must be desperate after seeing their cats killed. It's a no-win situation.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

When AVA's one-prong response to any "animal nuisance" complaint is to kill, it is real foolhardy to write such a letter to the press.
As Dawn said, there is no easy solution to this but dogs themselves are the victims of human irresponsibility and lack of governmental humane approach to animal problems here. Will we see a day when a Minister will not see that speaking up for the compassionate management of the strays is NOT a sign of weakness.

It is also time we admit that there are just TOO many human around. We can do with less human so that the earth can breathe again!
Yet we kill more animals to accomodate more human
**sigh**

Anonymous said...

FFS. For some reason I am unable to post a reply to ST. Anyway this is what I want to say, if anyone can post it for me id be grateful:

Animals like stray dogs and crows are not out to get you. In the case of crows, they behave aggressively only when they feel that their nests or young are being threatened. Simply avoiding the area(eg.a specific tree) can prevent this. In the case of stray dogs, they have much more reason to fear you than vice versa. After all, thousands of stray dogs and cats are killed by AVA every year, not to mention the thousands of birds poisoned by town councils or shot by NEA. Who is the dangerous species here? Stray dogs are only trying to survive. Everyday, they are faced with dangers such as cars, abuse, disease and AVA cullers. They are unwelcome everywhere and have a hard time looking for food because of their large size. Perhaps some of you should consider their plight instead of condemning them as 'dangerous'.

Anonymous said...

And anyway Dawn you are absolutely right. If we complain about stray dogs and ask AVA to kill them, then what is there to stop people from complaining that cats are killing birds?

kaori said...

The letter was written as calls to AVA to remove the dogs go unheeded. It's the same thing in my area too.

I feel there is no way of responsible feeding and sterilizing a pack. As such they have to be removed if there are no viable alternatives offered by relevant association/authorities when their population balloons. Caregivers put in not just money into community cats, it hurts when their charges are killed not for dogs' survival in food chain but by their territorial instinct.

Interestingly, my TC has acted on complaints by putting up notices at lift lobbies to urge residents not to feed stray dogs. It seems the case of double standards when cats can be removed when acting on complaints despite caregiver pleas, while strays dogs do not incur the wrath of pest control. Is it because it is easier to assert our physical superiority over them and cheaper to catch?

Anonymous said...

Because removal of cats is ingrained into TC's mentality that it has become a reflex reaction!
No longer need any intellect when a TC sees any cat in any feedback or complaint email...automatically his or her hand will reach for the phone to call the pest controllers.

Dawn said...

kaori - I'm no expert on dogs (though I have some),but I DO however know of people who do feed responsibly and sterilise the dogs. One of the issues here may be that the dogs are hungry. One caregiver I know started feeding the DOGS too so they wouldn't come after the cats. She said so far it seemed to work. I'm not sure however how much is instinct and how much hunger.

It is interesting that they tell people not to feed dogs but say nothing about cats. Are cats trapped in your area? is it possible that the TC shares your view that dogs ought not to be fed because they might not be able to be fed responsibly and they do not have the same fear with cats?

Anonymous said...

There is a case of another bunch of dogs at another area where the dogs are killing the community cats. The thing is I have written to ASD but they just don't reply... So I don't know who else to approach.

Adriane

Anonymous said...

Our kitten just killed a bird. i don't think the kitten is bad or cruel - it is nature. If a dog kills a cat, it is the same. We cannot control what is natural.

It is understandable that the cat care-givers are grieved when their cats died horribly & the cats are bonded to them.
Getting the dogs removed by ava is the same as getting the dogs culled. What other possible end is there for the dogs?
It is the same as some residents asking for cats to be removed from the void deck - they are culled.
If you change the "dogs" to "cats" - in a broad sense - in the letter by Miss Lim - it is almost eerily like a letter written by people who complain about cats - including the last paragraph by adding the "children" bit - to gain support from other sources.

There is no easy solution to this -but getting the dogs "removed" or "killed" or whatever - it is causing the dogs to suffer and to die.

Next time you get angry with residents who asked TCs to remove community cats, how can you look at them in the eye??

Anonymous said...

I find it perplexing that people cry foul when cats are culled but don't hesitate to call AVA to kill dogs. They don't see the irony or refuse to confront it..?

By the way dogs are killed at AVA all the time as a result of complaints like this. Most people have no problem with stray cats but fewer are tolerant of stray dogs.

Anonymous said...

Adriane: Try mailing again? I emailed this afternoon and got very fast replies

Anonymous said...

I mailed, I smsed.... they don't reply at all.... been doing it a few times.

Gives me the impression, they don't seem to want to care. If you can, you can let them know? Cos they seem to be ignoring my mails. I jog along that area and I know those dogs. I care for the cats in the area too. Honestly I don't want these dogs killed but the news came out today in New Paper so we should expect AVA to move in soon. But what makes me really pissed is ASD just gives a bo chap attitude.. I mean if you can't help at least answer back! Damn its total silence from them.

Adriane

Adriane

Anonymous said...

Because put it this way... it's not about the cats but these dogs are not small and they are growing in number. Before they bite someone and then things will really slide down a road of no return where they will be aggressively hunted down and destroyed. We can do something to help them. I don't mind giving my time to help relocate them but Im only one person. And ASD who is supposed to be the place to go, doesn't care. Anyway it's no surprise, I know of another case where 3 dogs were poisoned to death by an unknown person and the caregiver asked for help to catch the 4th one for rehoming... ASD told him they won't help catch, they will only talk to him after he catches it....

Adriane

Dawn said...

Adriane - ASD is a volunteer organisation, just as CWS is. Sometimes this means that they're very short handed, not that they don't care. The problem is that while you may have brought up a serious case, they may have also received another 10 just like it. It takes time to get to every case - especially when you have hardly anyone to help.

Again with the trapping, CWS doesn't help trap either - not because we don't want to help trap, but because there isn't enough manpower to do so. Perhaps more importantly, there are no tricks at least for cats - the best thing is for the caregiver or someone familiar with the cat to try and trap it. I would imagine it's the same as dogs.

Let's put it this way. You mentioned you are only one person though you want to help (which is great) - but ASD is also run by a very small group of volunteers who are also not very many more than one person. I know Ricky does a lot of the work with just a few dedicated people helping him. So if you have problems managing, they do too.

Anonymous said...

Yes but Dawn I didn't just msg them today.. I have done it ages ago..... What peeves me off is they simply don't reply... If you need help, we volunteers are willing to help. We are not expecting you to come with an army but at least give us some advice what to do. But if you ignore us, how do we help?

Adriane

Anonymous said...

And I don't see any case involving stray dogs as serious as this one.... cos their location and everything about them is large and big in the new paper. Even though we have been holding back and not calling AVA, its really beyond our hands now that their location has been alerted to the authorities by someone who reported the case to the papers.I mean we have been trying to warn ASD about it but as I said no replies...

Adriane

Anonymous said...

Did you try today?

Dawn said...

Hi Adriane, I can't say why they're not answering - but do try again? Someone here mentioned they wrote to them today and got a quick reply.

Anonymous said...

To Anon I tried again today.. no reply. I try again.

Adriane

Anonymous said...

Tell them that its regarding the incident in the ST forum and that you want to help if they still don't reply then I really have nothing to say =(

Anonymous said...

I have emailed them and sms them... I did tell them its about the new paper incident.... No reply.

Adriane

Anonymous said...

Some people are "dog" people and some are feline fanciers; while others are bird watchers.

This article should be interesting for all concerned :
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/us/14cats.html

Dawn said...

Hi Adriane, I hope you do get a reply soon. I can't speak for the ASD people but I do know sometimes several people do email about the same incident. Perhaps they are trying to do something about it before responding to everyone who has written in. If it's come out in the New Paper, I'm guessing they would know about it.

apple said...

humans r e root of all evils,not dogs,cats,etc.
Wat is needed is to do e same to stray dogs,TNRM.
This can be easily done by e government if they really want to.
Singapore is a small country,instead of just helping humans,e government can do a national wide sterilisation of all stray dogs and cats on e streets.
And ban petshops fr selling pets,anyone who really wants a pet,can go to e Spca to adopt one.
It's a simple solution,all dat is needed is e government to carry out this,they have e manpower and e resources.

Anonymous said...

Ricky says:

"Unfortunately things are not as simple as that. Dogs that have been strays all their lives may not be domesticated, but what is worse is people are not willing to accept them. What happens is that the dogs end up miserable caged up for the rest of their lives and the animal welfare orgs cannot take in dogs that have a better chance of adoption

What could be a solution in cases like this is for the people to form patrols and to ward off the dogs when they come, with pots and pans and to target the pack leader. There should also not be food sources, which is usually the case when there are cat feeders

When the dogs realize there is no food source and the territory is guarded, they will move to another location

Sterilization is another good way of keeping the stray population down, but recently the AVA has be unrelenting in catching strays, and killing them even if they have been sterilized. As such, we are cutting down on sterilizations till the authorities are more receptive to working with the animal welfare orgs "

Anonymous said...

I too am really pissed that ASD doesn't want to do anything about it. How can you possibly convince the authorities to work with you if you're not even willing to work with residents to resolve such basic issues???

Anonymous said...

I asked him about Adriane's offer to help this is what he said

"Hi ******, Relocation has it own high risks as the dogs get disoriented and invariably run out onto roads where they are run over. The better way is still to patrol the area, stop the food source, and let the pack know that area is off limits to them. They will naturally progress to other areas"

I think thats really too late now that AVA has already been called

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps more could have been done if this issue was addressed before the news came out in the New Paper. Honestly dogs are not cats. Cats are much smaller than dogs and they don't move in a group. Even if one gets attacked cos one goes provoke a cat, its one cat. For dogs, its a whole gang of large dogs as our mongrels are normally medium built. When this gang attacks, it can result in serious injuries.

I don't at all agree with not relocating them especially when they are staying right next to a jogging track and housing estate. It's a matter of time before someone complains about them. Whether for safety or religious reasons. For the dogs sake, it could have been a better idea to trap them, sterlise and relocate to perhaps Pulau Ubin, somewhere where there are not so many people and being sterlized, they cannot breed and will die off with old age. But then again... Im no dog expert so this are just my humble suggestions.

Anyway Ricky did finally reply my emails. And yes as Anon as posted, those are his replies to me.

I also feel that it is too late now as AVA will come down hard on those dogs. I will miss seeing them playing in the canal during my jogs.

Adriane

Dawn said...

Hi Adriane - there are lots of dogs and cats on Pulau Ubin as well as far as I know. The problem is the same as when people ask that cats be relocated - where do you move them to?

As Ricky mentioned, sometimes the fact that people are feeding the cats may be drawing the dogs into the territory and near to where the cats are. If there are irresponsible feeders who don't clear up, this is going to be a problem. He also wrote to me and mentioned the same things (1) to clear the food and (2) to scare them off using pots and pans.

Dawn said...

Hi Anonymous who mentioned the Galveston case, I blogged about that previously too - and that's exactly what I mean. In that case, the man who loves birds decided that the cats had to die because the cats were killing his birds. So if one puts value on animals whom we like/care for, then there is going to be a lot of conflicting interests.

Anonymous said...

That would be all fine and dandy if things had not come to this stage its immediate action that is required NOW or the dogs will be killed but from the responses I've been getting the impression that they dont want to do anything AT ALL

Dawn said...

Anonymous - again I'm not sure what the history behind this is, and I'm not sure what happened as I wasn't a party to this.

Here's the thing though - would the outcome have been any different if this had been brought up any earlier? We already know that there is nowhere the dogs can be removed to - they will be, if caught, killed.

Would someone have been able/willing to go down and ensure there is no food source (and there definitely seems to be food in both cases mentioned as there are cats being fed)? We know that even with cat caregivers it's almost impossible to stop irresponsible feeders even if there are feeders every day who check the area.

Would someone in the area be willing to stay up at night and bang pots and pans to drive the dogs away until they learn the territory is not safe? I understand from some caregivers I've spoken to that due to the fact that they are working, they are unable to do this. Some also fear the noise may attract other unwanted attention. As I mentioned earlier, the two caregivers I know who DID do this reported the dogs stopped coming back.

It sounds to me that these two cases, which are by no means isolated or unusual,are representative of the fact that cases like these need a lot of on the ground work by caregivers in the area - and this may include cat caregivers as the food for the cats may be attracting the dogs into the territory (if I understand Ricky correctly).

Barffie said...

Suggested solutions:
1. Cutting off food source
2. Scaring the dogs away by beating on pots and pans.

To be frank, I stay near the affected areas.
But my concerns are:
1. Yes I am working full time, and already having a hard time getting 6 hours of sleep a night.
2. The dog feeder seems to have changed her timing to the dead of the night at 3am.
3. If we were to use pots and pans to scare off the dogs at that unearthly hour, would there be repercussions?
4. The dogs roam a huge area, if we were to stop them from coming to our area, what is stopping them from going to other areas and mauling cats (for eg. in Bukit Batok?) and attacking people?

This is just 'exporting' the problem, not really solving it.

We are at our wits' end as well :(

Dawn said...

barffie - all valid concerns. One of the things though is that from what I'm guessing, if there isn't a food source in these other areas, then the dogs probably aren't going to head that way. though it does seem of course that it isn't 'solving' the problem but more of the dogs moving from the area of immediate concern.

I can understand the lack of sleep but from what I understand it doesn't need to be done long term - I'm going to ask the caregiver I know how long it took to drive the dogs away. I guess the best you can do is tell other residents who complain about the noise you're trying to chase the dogs out of the area and to ask for their tolerance? Of course as we know there will always be some people who complain.

So there is a dog feeder? She's not willing to help?

Anonymous said...

Why can't the dogs be adopted...or at least boarded somewhere I doubt that they are as ferocious as people think. I know some dogs will relentlessly pursue and attack cats but are tame and friendly towards people, probably because they were not accustomed to cats at a young age and hence regard them as prey

Dawn said...

Hi Anonymous - the problem is, same as with the cats, lack of homes. How many people want to take in dogs that are pedigree dogs and which are not puppies? It's very very hard to find them homes. As for boarding, it's again the same as with the cats. Who's going to pay for the boarding and how many dogs will have to be boarded?

As for dogs attacking cats, I have dogs that DIDN'T grow up with cats and came to us as adults but they aren't aggressive to the cats at all.

lingcat said...

Animals killing animals are just part of the life cycle. It is not fair for cat lovers to complaint about dogs and getting them killed.

If killing of dogs is an acceptable method of solving problem. The cat lovers should not be agitated when cats are culled because of complaints from cat haters.

From my personal experience with ASD, I feel that they are quite a useless society.

They should not cut down on sterilization just because the authorities are not receptive.

Just like cats, there is no gurantee that sterilized cats can remain on the streets. Agreements with Town Councils are just empty promises. Our government can change their policy overnight and impose an intensive culling order.

Me and many other caregivers still actively sterilize cats with the hope that less will die from culling. At least fewer kittens are born to die.

Rather than just sitting there waiting for govenment's support, sterilize the dogs. At least less dogs will be born to kill cats.

Anonymous said...

im not an expert, but...

What I think is that when the dogs see you(the alpha dog) treating the cats as members of the household(pack), they will accept your decision and come to regard the cats as fellow members of their pack. However if the pack leader initiates an attack, the rest will join in and come to regard cats as fair game. So if you can somehow remove the dominant individual probably the attacks might stop

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say "useless" but I think that their attitude is quite defeatist. If the dogs keep reproducing and end up causing more and more trouble...its even more likely that AVA will not want to cooperate with them.

lingcat said...

Or can the alpha dog be tamed and taught to accept cats?

~ not a dog expert too.

Anonymous said...

I think thats only possible under fairly domestic conditions.. For example, if they have adequate food and a stable social structure like in a zoo or sanctuary. That's why you seldom see animals of different species cuddling together in the wild, because they are usually too preoccupied with the basics of survival.

Dawn said...

That's what I understand about alpha dogs too - I'm not sure if they can be 'trained' to accept cats in that sense but if the alpha dog as anonymous rightly says, does not initiate the attack, the rest of the pack is unlikely to from what I know. I understand that if you scare of the alpha, the pack will also scatter in disarray.

Anonymous said...

Duh...I mean stable environment

Dawn said...

PS I have to add that I think ASD has a tough job, just as every other animal welfare group does and that they are doing the best that they can.

Anonymous said...

To all, I think that none of the caregivers here want the dogs to be culled or killed. Honestly I think these caregivers have been just trying to protect their cats. If they wanted the easy way out, AVA would have been called in a very long time ago.

Caregivers have been appealing for help but just that no help came along.

I for one just want everyone to get along, I don't side cats or dogs. And as I said before the presence of dogs of such sizes and growing in numbers are just asking for it. Sooner or later they will be in trouble. Alot of people jog past them and they are very visible. Not everyone shares my notion of them playing at the canal being a nice sight.

I feel that not sterlizing cos the ava keeps catching them is not the solution. After all as someone pointed out, cats that are sterlized are not safe too from AVA when policy changes are made. However at least an effort is made to control the population. In doing so, we can then talk to the government about better dog management. However if the dogs or cats are breeding like rabbits. The government will just think, why should I stop culling? If I don't cull, there will be more and more dogs or cats.

For the advice of banging pots and pans.... Well the area is next to a hdb estate. Will we not get the dogs into more trouble when the police come acting upon reports of people banging pots and pans in the wee hours of morning? And yes which other area are they to go to? Another estate? My idea of Pulau Ubin is to have these strays die a natural death there. Honestly if it was possible I would like to round up every single one we can find and sterlize them to cut the breeding cycle and then rehome them in homes, shelters or Pulau Ubin. Again I dont profess to be a dog expert so maybe my ideas are not workable so its just a fantasy.

Adriane

Anonymous said...

To add if one would read the article.... it's not about the cats only. Even if there are no cats, a pack of dogs walking around a housing estate is not a sight welcomed by all... many fear these dogs and believe them to be vicious creatures... So it's sooner or later before something happens.

TO ASD, perhaps you might want to rethink your strategies. We dont deny you are doing good work and dedicated but if you dont work to control the population, you are just going to get more and more dogs. End of the day its a case of more dogs being rounded up and honestly how many dogs can you rehome when you are trying to find homes for one and there is an mother out there giving birth to litter after litter.

If you need help, I believe there are people willing to help. Just feel free to ask and perhaps you could work with other organisations. Mutts and Mittens for example.

Adriane

Dawn said...

Adriane - I am sure that most caregivers don't want the dogs to be killed (some caregivers and not in this case, told me that they wanted the dogs to be taken away and were aware they were killed). My point is that whatever their intentions, the net result is that the dogs will be caught and killed. As an analogy, it's the same as say a complainant saying they don't want the cats to be killed, but just taken away. That doesn't happen because there isn't anywhere for them to go to.

Again, everyone would like to rehome/adopt out every cat as well. the problem is that there are no homes. Pulau Ubin already has its fair share of dogs and cats and so do the other islands. In fact, there were people I recall trying to ship dogs and cats back from one of the islands to the mainland last year because they thought the islands weren't safe.

I don't think you have to be a dog expert - the same issues that apply to cats are the ones that apply to dogs. For example, if someone complains there are too many cats and wants them to be removed, they can't all be shipped to Pulau Ubin too.

Yes - banging on pots and pans might attract attention, but certainly it doesn't attract the same kind of attention that the national press does.

Obviously everyone would like to get all dogs AND cats sterilised, but it's going to take a lot of time and money. There ARE a lot of dogs out there too. If you think about the fact that they've also been killing 2000+ dogs every year for very many years as well, it goes to show how many dogs there are.

I don't believe ASD has stopped sterilisations by the way. Pardon my ignorance, but I went to the Mutts and Mittens website and didn't notice anything about a sterilisation programme. Do they run one?

Also I am sure that the organisations that are helping are already all doing what they can. What is probably needed are more hands - ie people who aren't already involved in an organisation and volunteers such as yourself. You mentioned that you'd be willing to help which is great and I am sure if you volunteer your services they would appreciate it. From my years of working with CWS, I can tell you that the number of dedicated volunteers to start new projects is almost nil. Most people are understandably busy with their own areas. As such, if you have a new 'problem' area, chances are there's no one there - and getting someone who is already stretched to go in is realistically impossible.

I understand of course that the caregivers are at their wits' end, but right now what's happening is almost weighing lives. As the person who mentioned the Galveston case in Texas said, the man who loved birds shot a cat because he said the cats were killing his birds. He said he was only trying to protect his birds. Obviously one can argue about the method of killing the cat, but the birds there were, he argued, endangered. Does this mean that the birds had more of a 'right' to live? I am sure most of us would agree not. However, he would argue that the cats are preying on the birds and therefore have to be removed/relocated or killed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a pack of dogs roaming in a housing estate or just anywhere in Singapore "are just asking for it" as Adriane put it.

Trapping a dog is not easy, sterilisation is about $300 (i think) and housing a feral dog at home after surgery is next to impossible (feral dog would bark and bite). Boarding would be more $$$. I don't know ASD but i can see how difficult it is.

Add to that - there is more abandonment since the new licensing rule early this year and you have more feral dogs (many are ex-owned dogs) around.

Perhaps all animal lovers could contribute to ASD sterilisation fund for a start ?

What i personally find upsetting is that it is a "cat" person - reading from the first letter - that is the whistle blower.
Yes, i understand the writer is concerned about the community cats she is feeding - but to alert the authority to cull the dogs ??
That is disturbing.

What if 'dog' people call in the authority to cull the community cats? I do hope "dog" people or animal-loving people are more compassionate about dogs, cats, monkeys, birds who are having a tough time staying alive in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Some possible ideas:
1.Neuter the dogs. Just as neutering reduces aggression in cats the same goes for dogs
2.Tie bells to their necks so cats know when their coming. Cat owners do this to reduce predation, although this might also draw the wrong kind of attention =.=

Dawn said...

Thanks for the suggestions - not sure if anyone can get near enough to the dogs to tie a bell on. Frankly, with cats, the bells don't often work because the cats learn to move quite quietly. It might however work with dogs.

Anonymous said...

Remind me of an Aesop's Fable - Who Will Bell the Cat.
http://petcaretips.net/aesop_fable.html

Barffie said...

Tie a bell to the dogs? It's hard doing that to a friendly one, much more so if it's one in a pack.