Friday, December 30, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
While is it better late than never, one wonders what exactly has changed to bring this about. Way back in October 2001, CWS had sent an earlier proposal in where another Town Council and CDC were interested in starting a pilot project. HDB's response then? That a pilot project would not be reflective of the long-term effectiveness of the measures on a nationwide scale.
One could make the argument that things are much better now - more cats are sterilised and people are more accepting of cats. However, while it certainly seems that more cats have been sterilised thanks to the hard work of caregivers (and this is reason enough to cheer), I don't believe people have become any more or less accepting of cats because I believe the number of people who were supposedly so intolerant of cats was small to begin with. CWS reports that their recent survey found that 85% of people were agreeable to letting cats remain in an estate if they were sterilised. Dr Lou Ek Hee's paper published in the Singapore Veterinary Authority's Journal in 2000 showed that 96% of people were supportive of the cats being allowed to remain in the community if they were sterilised.
Does this show that people are actually less tolerant now? I don't believe so. As I've often said, we can probably argue that a small minority of people don't like cats. An equally small minority really love them. The important thing though is that most people don't want cats killed - and this hasn't changed. Most people have no objections to cats in the estate if they don't cause any problems. Even if there are issues that arise from the cats, most people don't want the cats to be taken away and killed. So the issue here isn't that peoples' attitudes have changed.
One could argue that perhaps politicians are more enlightened now, or that the HDB officials in charge have become more understanding and compassionate. This seems to gain credence because of the sheer speed with which this policy change has come about once the elections were over. The worry about this argument is this : what if the winds of change blow back in the opposite direction again? Surely there must be some way of ensuring that policies are evaluated on their merits rather than on the opinions of the current office holder. We cannot always be crossing our fingers and hoping (as we do now) that the next official who comes in may support animal friendly policies.
I am very happy to hear that cats (or ONE cat - something I'm not wild about) may be allowed into HDB flats. I just wonder why this long outdated policy hadn't been changed years ago and whether responsible pet owners could have been saved years of anxiety and fear for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
That's precisely what community cat and dog caregivers have been trying to do for years. They help to sterilise, manage and mediate - and they get very little support for doing so. Instead, roadblocks have been thrown up in their path.
While I am heartened to see that the Prime Minister has helped out in a case where a dog was caught, I am a little worried that he agreed that Ministers have more important things to worry about then cats and dogs. While I can see that in the broader picture, the Ministers have many things to worry about, I hope that this doesn't give the signal that therefore cat and dog issues should be put on the back burner. After all, these are really people issues too - it is about our environment and how we live in it. I'll post a link to the English transcript when it's out. Here it is.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
In addition, the condominium decided to try and implement a TNRM programme. At the time, there were about 30 cats. The condominium management decided to fund the sterilisation of the community cats instead of spending the money (which worked out to a few thousand dollars a year) to trap and kill the cats.
At the time that I left CWS, the programme was still in place. There were some complaints, but the cats were all sterilised and the one recalcitrant feeder seemed to have been persuaded to stop. The last time I met with the management, we were told by some members on the management committee that they had seen a decrease in the number of cats and no new kittens born.
Unfortunately, as time passed, many of the caregivers moved out of the estate. I understand that now there are only 6 or 7 cats left - certainly a huge drop from the original pool of cats. However, at the last AGM, the management committee managed to change the bylaws to outlaw feeding by gathering enough votes to do so. They are not taking action against a feeder there.
This is something that is always a worry - that there are a few committed caregivers and that when they leave, the programme will fall apart. The idea of planning succession is a good one, but it isn't always easy to find someone willing to take over. Some of the time, no new caregivers come forward. On other occasions, the existing feeder doesn't like other people getting involved. Another huge problem is that while it is almost always possible to find feeders, finding caregivers isn't that easy - people either do not have the inclination, the personality or the time to be a caregiver.
What you can do however, if you are in an estate is to sign up with your Residents Committee or Management Committee. This will at least meant that you are in a position to influence what happens in your area. It also means that you are given a heads up should something be happening.
It's also a good idea to rally support early in your community. If you are a caregiver, note whom seems friendly and supportive and try and find a way to get in touch with them. It may be essential should you need to show that there are people who want to allow a TNRM programme to run.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I am glad that Dr Ng realises that sterilisation is the way to go, and that this will help keep the population in check. This is exactly why a sterilisation programme is so important. What is disturbing to me is the native species argument. The real impact as I am sure we can all agree, isn't cats or any of these other invasive species - it's humans.
I was just having a conversation with someone the other day and every time I come back to Singapore, the landscape has changed so much. New buildings have popped up. Some friends of mine who were away two years recently came back and couldn't recognise Singapore anymore. Is it really the non-native species that are causing these issues, or is it the fact that we are demolishing areas in order to find more space for people and our activities? If our native species are competing for food and space, then who takes away more food and space then we do? With an increasing population, and such limited space, cats are the least of their problems.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
I am still concerned about microchipping of the cats though. Who maintains this database? Will all the present cats be allowed to remain? Will there be a 'limit' imposed and who determines what this limit is? The town council? Residents? Caregivers or a mixture of all three groups? Also, what happens if there is abandonment? What steps will be taken to stem the abandonment and what happens to the cats that have been abandoned if they are not microchipped? More information would be very helpful.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
At the same time, let's not forget the MPs who have been supportive in the past. A caregiver just wrote to me yesterday to say that her MP recently wrote to her to ask for help resolving a situation in the TC. I know other caregivers who have MPs write to them and advocate on their (and the cats') behalf. Do drop your MP a note as well to thank them for their past support if they have been helpful - and you may want to let BG Tan know about it as well if you are writing to him. Here's a nice post from BG Tan on why they are working on an issue like community cats.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I've heard from some people that they are concerned that a change in the rule might not help community cats - that in fact, people might run out and buy more pedigree cats and that more breeders will come in and fill that demand. I don't believe that this will happen. Will some people go and buy cats? Undoubtedly. Will some breeders and pet shop owners try and sell more cats? Again, this will certainly happen. However I don't believe this is going to be a big issue.
The thing is - most people aren't really aware of the ruling at all. I still hear from many people that they are shocked to learn that living with a cat (or cats) in HDB flats is illegal. They were never aware of this to begin with. I doubt that a change in the rule will therefore lead to an exodus of people rushing out to buy pedigrees.
What does a change in the ruling actually mean then? Two very important things. One, that if you are a responsible pet owner that you no longer have to live in fear. You will not need to worry that you could be fined or worse, to lose your flat.
Two, that the Town Councils will now have a real weapon in their arsenal to deal with irresponsible cat owners. We all know that irresponsible owners exist - it's just that for years there has been no way to effectively deal with them. A change in the rule will allow for this. As we all know, an irresponsible pet owner has LESS chance of being caught under the rule because they can always allow the cat to wander and claim it is not their cat. Responsible cats owners on the other hand, who keep their cats indoors at all times, are more likely to fall afoul of the rule. A change in the rule will mean that caregivers, TCs and the HDB can work together and focus their attention on those people who are irresponsible instead of penalising anyone who owns a cat, no matter how responsible they are.
After all these years and after all the work of SPCA and CWS (and having met four different Ministers and writing three different proposals on this issue), one has to wonder if all it took was the right person in the right position. It makes me a little sad to think that this possible change in the rules may have had nothing to do with the merit of the arguments. If so, this discriminatory rule would have been overturned years ago.
On the other hand, it's quite possible that the recent general elections have played a huge part in this change. It seems that the authorities are really listening to what people are saying.
So if this rule does change (and I am really hopeful that it will), the people who deserve a huge pat on the backs are all of you. All the caregivers who went out and sterilised, managed and mediated tirelessly are the ones who made a huge difference. I notice that more and more cats now are already sterilised and without dedicated caregivers, this would never have happened. I am sure that it has not gone unnoticed how caregivers are giving back to their estates.
There are another group of people who have been instrumental in bringing about change - all of you, who wrote to your MPs, who went to Meet the Peoples Sessions, who called, turned up and made the point that you are responsible Singaporeans whose cats are part of your lives. You let your MPs know that you are prepared to stand up and be counted and to give back to the community. It is YOUR voices that have been heard - or how else would the Ministers have realised that this was something that many Singaporeans care about? No society or welfare group can bring about a sea change without the support and voices of people - and you deserve a huge round of applause for getting all of us to this stage.
Now let's work together to make sure that this rule is changed. Please write to your MPs and the Ministers in charge at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (or post on their facebook pages here and here) and let them know that it's important to change this rule and relegate it to the history books!
Friday, June 3, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
While lamenting with her on this turn of affairs, I said to her that with elections around the corner, the town council is probably going to put off meetings for the time being. She retorted that they're too busy to meet with her, but they're not too busy to arrange for trapping of cats!
Fortunately, she and the others have gotten a temporary staying of the trapping order (but still no meeting the last I heard). What she said was made me think. Why is it that caregivers and people looking after cats are always treated as if we matter less than people who have complaints? From what I understand, there was one complainant who did not want to see any cats in the area at all. On the other hand, there are many residents who want to meet up and resolve the problem AND they want the cats to stay. Yet they are being ignored.
So here's the thing - this election season, let our elected representatives know how we feel. We are not second class citizens who matter less than complainants, many of whom are not even held accountable because they are anonymous. Caregivers are committed, concerned and ready to help - so why are they treated as if they don't matter?
When candidates come around campaigning for votes, ask them what their stance is on community cats. How will they respond to anonymous complaints and round up cats to be killed? How about their stance on sterilisation and getting the old SCRS re-started in town councils? How do they feel about the HDB policy in relation to cats? Will they work to getting that law overturned?
I know that I am not alone in feeling that these issues are important to us. Are they more important than say the standard of living to most Singaporeans? Probably not. For those of us who care for community cats however, I would say that these are some of our most pressing issues. Will our community cats be safe? When we share our homes with beloved pet cats, will we worry that the HDB will come knocking and we might lose our homes?
With so many constituencies likely to be contested, many of us will get a chance to vote at this election. Vote in the people whom you think will represent what you care for most - for many of us, that would be our cats.
In a world where diseases seem to be mutating more than they used to, God forbid that we have another SARS-like incident. If we do however, I hope that our leaders will not respond with massive hysterical over-reaction but in a measured and logical manner.
When you vote, remember the cats.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
This is something that has always been a concern and has been brought up to AVA in the past. The SPCA has in fact also been urging the AVA to send people to be trained so that at least the animals would be caught without undue suffering. The AVA maintained however there were no licensing requirements and therefore anyone could trap cats and charge money for it. One isn't surprised that this happened - it was only a question of when it would happen.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Also, if this is just a case of property, how much would the dog be worth? Bearing in mind the adoption fees and the cost of flying the dog back, quarantine, food, medical bills, etc, it's still unlikely that it would begin to approach the $250000 amount that it takes for a case to be tried in the High Court. Of course there are exceptions and the judge's reasoning will be most illuminating. It is arguable at least that the High Court heard this case because it is potentially a new area of law to be explored.
It would also be hard to imagine that two people would take a matter where a piece of property was involved up to the High Court. Would you go to the High Court, where costs are considerable, over a pen or a necklace, even if they were an expensive pen or necklace? It would probably be cheaper to just buy a new one. It's about time that this area of law was clarified - after all, for all of us, our animals are not just property.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
There is apparently a Cat Island too - though it seems that most of the human and cat inhabitants are safe though this cannot be verified.
For people who say that animals aren't important at a time like this, tell that to this guy.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I've always wondered whether it was possible to run a TNR programme for deer. I'm glad to see they're trying it out now to see if it will work. I'm always sad that the deer are shot, or run over on the roads because deer, like cats, freeze when they see headlights.