Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A Pilgrimage to Honor Hachiko, Japan's Most Faithful Dog
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2005 9:50 PM
Subject: Appeal to restore the Stray Cat Rehab Scheme (SCRS)
26th February 2005
Dear Prime Minister Lee
Your budget stood out this year as one with a heart. Generous perks not withstanding, what resonates and stood out must be your call for ”acts of kindness and compassion in a community bound together in a social compact that makes us care for each other and support the vulnerable – this way we will become a caring and inclusive society”.
For those of us who believe that the world is made for all living things, we hope that your definitions of “vulnerable” and “inclusive” are in the same vein as those expressed by many great thinkers of the last and present century.
Mahatma Gandhi pronounced that “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
His words were echoed by Alfred Einstein when he said “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us - universe -… He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… This delusion is a kind of prison for us… Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being remarked “True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when the recipient has no power. Man’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from the view) consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals… “
If the caring and inclusive society you spoke of, has as one of its corner stones, acts of kindness and compassion to animals, may we sincerely ask you to consider restoring the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme (SCRS) that was abruptly terminated during the SARS crisis in 2003.
This restoration will drive home several messages aligned to your call for a community bound together by a social compact:
- that social problems cannot simply be wished away or dismissed. Mental or physical extermination whether it is shutting out aging parents from our lives or culling cats do not strengthen the moral fibre of society.
There are long-term repercussions which often rebound in a vicious cycle.
Milan Kundera described man’s lack of compassion to animals as “a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.” Rather, a better sense of community would spring from a society dedicated towards solving its problems creatively and in respecting life.
- that acts of kindness to animals are not “misguided compassion”. Like any act of kindness they have intrinsic value because they spring from the purest of motives. Restoring SCRS will extend the recognition of community volunteerism to many Singaporeans who, compelled by their own sense of humanity, spend their own time, money and energy to help sterilise, nurse, feed and rehome stray, injured and abused cats. Every good act in life should be applauded, regardless of the recipient.
Sir, by restoring the SCRS you will be sending a strong signal to the Singapore community and the world at large that the height of our country’s achievements is matched by the depth of her social consciousness. We will then be closer to realising a caring and inclusive society buttressed by acts of kindness and compassion that value EVERY FORM OF LIFE — whether it BE a tree, a cat or a human being, presently down and out.
Hence this should be encouraged by the Residents' Committees (RC) and the Town Councils (TC).
However some TC officers seem to cower when a RC member makes a fuss and will pander to his or her complaint even when it is obviously unreasonable and personal.
Some TC officers also display a negative attitude towards residents who offer to help resolve feedback about cats as it means a paradigm shift in the methology. It used to be "we will just activate the pest controllers" response to complaints about cats that is ineffective but then the TC is not transparent in revealing details about complaints such as names, addresses, and the exact nature of the complaints (10 anonymous complaints from ONE resident is considered as 10 complaints!). There is also no audit to check if the problem recurs as very often the "wrong" cats are caught by the pest controllers!
Remember that RC and TC are to serve every resident NOT just those who are aggressive in complaining or those who have a personal hatred or phobia of cats!
MPs too are elected to serve every resident and they must not trivialise residents who want to speak to them at Meet-the-MP sessions about cat issues. If the MPs express impatience or use excuses such as "they are other residents waiting to see me for more important bread and butter issues", just gently remind that issues concerning compassion is equally important! But of course it is discourteous to prolong the meeting unnecessarily. RC members register and interview residents at the Meet-the-MP premise. Some RC members also try to trivialise issues about cats and some will just scribble the words "cat nuisance" after listening to a long account. Again remember these RC members "volunteer" to serve residents, but unlike residents who volunteer in TnRM, they have perks for their volunteerism.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Encouraging bad behaviour
Remember this guy? I SMSed him this evening to say that we did not know the caregiver in the area, but that we were getting another resident to go down. He called backed to say that he saw some cats sleeping on cars last night. I said the volunteer would be going down.
He complained that nothing had been done - I pointed out that he had said on Friday that he didn't need immediate action as long as something was done. I also pointed out that we needed to try and find someone near him. I said that town councils for example, take 5 working days to get back to the residents of this TC and that this is nowhere near that. He claimed that in HIS case, it was one day - and he's right, because the TC is so worried when he complains that they rush his case to the forefront, because he claims he is going to see the MP. He now says he is going to go back and complain to the TC again.
What annoys me tremendously is that when there were problems in the TC and the caregivers tried to contact them, they were told there was a 5 day waiting period. In this case, he gets special treatment because why? He's ruder? He's more unreasonable? The best way to appease him is to just give in?
He also agreed that removing the cats had happened several times, and new ones keep coming in, and he's not happy any of them sleep on his car (though he cannot show they scratched it because the car has been polished since then). However as long as they don't sleep on his car 'for a while' he's happy.
Truly TC does a disservice to Singapore by pandering to these people - if this was a child, and they were raised this way, you'd get a spoilt brat. If you pander to a spoilt adult, you get a demanding, unreasonable person who isn't willing to do anything but complain. And waste everyone's time and money.
Yet TCs rush to service them. And encourage MORE bad behaviour. Which means in turn MORE rushing to service them. Someone has to set the rule in TCs that there must be standards of common courtesy, and that sometimes, the answer to these people is just "too bad".
One nice thing - someone called to thank us for organising Spay Day today.
Cats and Car-Paint
The quick answer is that car duco - if its in half decent condition - is extremely hard (its baked for at least half an hour at over 300º since it has to withstand road gravel hitting it etc). And cats claws are the same hardness as our fingernails. So unless you can scratch off the paint with your fingernail, there is *no way* a cat can scratch the *paint* of the surface of a car that's in a fairly good condition. (Paint does weather though and if its in a really bad state, it can be scratched, but if its that bad it should be a funny colour of white and be in the junk yard).
However, if the car has been *waxed*, the cat's claws (and your fingernails) can remove some of the wax, leaving what looks likes scratches in the paint, but are in fact just places where the surface of the wax has been removed. But then again a cat just walking across a car doesn't *use* claws, so the only way that the cat could scratch the car is if it was trying to somehow get traction on the surface, by either falling off or (dare I say) running for its life.
The worst a cat can do to in normal circumstances is leave cute little muddy cat prints - annoying but not inherently damaging.
Victoria Chapman, BSc, Paint Technologist
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
New car owners
The town council called after speaking with this guy. It appears he has complained before, and they have removed the cats before and he's still not happy.
The TC reminded us these are not sterilised cats and they can remove them. I pointed out to the TC though that clearly removing the cats STILL isn't satisfying the guy. I suggested trying to work out a more long term solution by working with the feeder - but we need to be able to find her first.
It turns out he has a 6 month old car. The officer said he's rather hot tempered and comes back late at night so the cats tend to sleep on his car for warmth. Save us from people with new cars - or at least those who begrudge the cats a bit of warmth. I haven't seen the scratches he claims were left by the cats - and will not be able to since he claims the car has been repainted. I CAN understand not letting a cat scratch the car of course, but I wonder what happened to the fact that he alleges must prove? Now some cats get hauled off because he said so.
Residents' Committees (RCs) were formed in 1978 to promote neighbourliness and harmony in public housing estates. RCs also serve as channels of communication between residents and the Government. RCs, like CCCs, initially came under the Prime Minister's Office, and later, the Ministry of Community Development.
In 1993, RCs and CCCs came under the purview of the PA. Currently, there are over 550 RCs. Each RC has an RC Centre to conduct meetings and programmes and activities for residents. RCs organise residents' parties, conduct house visits and other neighbourhood activities to reach out to residents. They also work closely with the government agencies to improve the living environment, safety and security of their estates.
Run by volunteers, the functions of the Residents' Committee are :
(a) to promote neighbourliness, harmony and cohesiveness among the residents of the Designated Zone;
(b) to liaise with and make recommendations to governmental authorities on the needs and aspirations of residents of the Designated Zone;
(c) to disseminate information and channel feedback on government policies and actions from residents of the Designated Zone; and 2
(d) to promote good citizenship among residents of the Designated Zone.
Published on Taipei Times
Cat-lovers seek responsible owners
By Loa Iok-sin
Saturday, Apr 05, 2008,
| Visitors yesterday hold cats at an event organized in Taipei’s Xinyi Business District by the Stray Cats Protection Assocation to promote concern for cats and awareness of the “trap, neuter, release” concept.|
PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
“Join us and be responsible owners,” dozens of pet cat owners urged during a Cats’ Festival parade organized by the Stray Cats Protection Association (SCPA) in Taipei yesterday.
“Whether you buy it or adopt it, you should think it through before you decide to have a pet,” said a flyer distributed by the group during the event.
“A cat can live up to 15 to 20 years — it may be just a passer-by in your life, but you are its whole life.”
The cat owners were eye-catching because they not only brought their pets with them, but many also dressed up as cats.
The SCPA was founded two years ago by Sara Choi, who originally came from South Korea as a student, but then decided to stay and work to protect stray cats after she completed her studies.
There are about 10,000 to 20,000 stray cats in Taipei City alone, Choi estimated.
“Our main tasks are to TNR stray cats, find adopters and sometimes help rescue stray cats,”
Chiu Wen-chun (邱文君), a volunteer at the association said.
TNR refers to the process of “trap, neuter, release.”
“If a cat can survive well in a neighborhood, we’d prefer to let it stay there instead of putting it in our shelter,” Chiu said.
However, due to hostility from a community, physical handicaps or other reasons, the SCPA still shelters nearly 50 stray cats, she said.
The cats in the shelter are awaiting adopters, Chiu said.
Not everybody can adopt cats from the association, though.
To prevent the cats from being deserted again, “we first interview potential adopters, and then we would ask them to sign an agreement after the pass the interview,” Chiu said.
All cat adopters must agree to allow the SCPA to continuously track the condition of the cats they’ve adopted, she said.
Although all SCPA volunteers are happy to do all they can to help stray cats, they still hope that the issue can be eliminated from its root.
“People abandon their pet cats for different reasons — their parents don’t allow it, they broke up with their girlfriends or boyfriends, the cats were being too naughty,” Chiu said.
“But you should think carefully before you decide to get a cat and once you do, you should never abandon it for any reason.”
Volunteers, vets spay 392 stray cats
"They won't take you to the vet. You're obviously not their favorite pet. Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, It's not your fault."
This line from the song "Smelly Cat" by the character Phoebe Buffay from U.S. TV series Friends might well be one of the best ways to describe the condition of stray cats in Jakarta.
Millions of cats roam the streets of Jakarta; some are lucky enough to get a proper home and food, but most are either starving, neglected, sick or dying.
"We have to control the stray cat population if we want to improve their welfare," said Femke de Haas, co-founder of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), earlier this week at JAAN's clinic in Kemang, South Jakarta.
Since mid-October, JAAN has worked with volunteer veterinarians and vet assistants from the Netherlands and Indonesia to provide free spaying and neutering services for homeless cats around Jakarta and Pramuka Island, the capital of Thousand Islands regency.
On the last day of the current phase of operations, she and her colleagues treated eight cats they netted off the streets. So far they have neutered and spayed 392 cats.
"It's not much compared with the number of stray cats in Jakarta, but this is only the first step," Dr. Ingrid Lewin, a volunteer vet from the Netherlands, told The Jakarta Post.
"Reducing the number of stray cats can take dozens of years, but the attempt was made in Holland and it worked."
The Netherlands, she added, once faced the same problem of too many stray cats roaming its streets.
"They were skinny and starving, but still producing litters," Dr. Lewin said. An admitted cat lover, she said she could not bear to see cats suffer, so began spaying and neutering them.
Her 35 years of efforts finally paid off. "Today we rarely see ownerless cats in Holland," she said.
In Jakarta, Dr. Lewin and her husband Dr. Karal Lewin, also a vet, worked with volunteer vet assistants Mirjam Bos and Desiree Gasteren from the Netherlands, as well as Indonesian Gabriel Rinaldi and Canadian Jennifer Word.
Femke highlighted public participation as one of the most important factors in the effort to improve street animals' welfare.
"We want people to better understand how to keep the cat population healthy. We visit schools to provide information, and we also promote and raise awareness of our spaying and neutering program among people in housing complexes," Femke said.
To their delight, JAAN's activities in Pramuka Island and Jakarta have received much support from the surrounding communities. On Pramuka Island in particular, Femke said, residents came to them bringing stray cats as soon as they learned about the service. In Jakarta, however, the volunteers have had to seek out the stray cats themselves.
JAAN plans to continue the spaying and neutering program on a monthly basis.
"With this program in hand, we hope in the future we will see no more abandoned cats on Jakarta's streets," Femke said.
The RC member in this case was kicking up a fuss yet again.
The town council officer told the caregiver that as a result the cats would be rounded up either yesterday or today so the caregiver took half a day off work yesterday to rush to her town council to see what could be done.
No one however was able to help because her officer was not around. The GM was not around and no one knew when he'd be back. With the other two caregivers they did not know what else to do.They did manage to speak to a rather junior officer who told them he did not have much power on this issue. He did tell them that the RC had voted to have the cats removed.
The caregivers explained that the RC had voted based on misinformation - according to the RC member who called the caregiver, they had asked specifically if the cats would be killed and if that was the case they did NOT want them to be removed.
However the TC officer present had assured them they would be 'adopted'.
The officer also told them that the TC needs to work with the RC and the RC is the representative of the residents.
The caregiver said that they should perhaps consult the actual residents like herself - and apparently he told her, there was no need to.
They had spoken with the RC and they were deemed to be representative.
They decided to see the MP again and asked if I could go down with them as they had told the MP the last time they'd like to ask me to sit in as well.
While they were waiting, whom should they see but the RC chairperson, the complainant AND the town council officer all going in together to see the MP.
She happened to meet one of the RC members there and he told her quietly he did not want the cats removed. He said that he would sign a letter if she wrote one - but he told her not to bring up his name to the MP typically.
The MP said that the complainant had come in waving around HDB regulations and information about MND. He said that he had told the complainant he was very aware of this because he used to be at the AVA himself.
He told the caregivers that the TC officer told him that there was some kind of resolution that necessitated the removal of cats whenever there was one complaint.
He said that he had told the town council this was the old resolution.
He said he would try and buy some time before the next town council meeting.
He asked if the cats could be removed in the interim.
I explained the vacuum effect and he agreed that it made sense.
I also said that from what the complainant said, the cats had been removed in the past because of the complainant - but he continued to complain.
He asked the caregiver to work with the TC and the RC. We emphasised that all the caregivers WANTED to work with the TC and the RC, that the caregiver had offered the complainant a car cover and repellent, but that the complainant was the one refusing to work with them.
He told the caregivers he would try and hold off the town council till the next meeting - which was rather odd. One would think an MP would have more clout than that really.
The MP then wrote two letters which he passed to the caregiver to hand to the RC and the TC.
The caregiver thought to have a look at the letters and opened one, and was scolded by an RC member who was rather aggressive.
I asked if it was possible to have a copy of the letters and he said that it was not their policy to give copies. I said I was aware other RCs did. He asked rather rudely why a copy was needed. I told him that people in TCs and RCs change - having a copy of the letter would make it easier. I said there had been a case where the officer changed and the new officer could not find the letter. He said that the officer had been there for a number of years - which doesn't make sense to me because even if she had been there a number of years doesn't mean she would not leave at some point. He said to look for him if there was an issue (assuming of course that HE doesn't leave either).
As we were leaving, we saw a woman in one of the cubicles yelling at this rather aggressive RC member and I heard something about the police. He quickly walked away and I saw that the woman was immediately ushered into see the MP instead of the helper at the session she had been speaking to up to that point.
Labels: Meeting, RC, TC
I don't know what happens to the cats.
I just spoke with the caregiver who went to see her RC chairperson last night.
Apparently after meeting the MP, they had been trying to get the RC member who is a complainant to drop the case, but the chairperson was unsure what the status is.
The caregiver asked if the whole case could be dropped in that case, but the chairperson said they need to determine if the cats are causing a nuisance.
The caregiver then took out the petition and the survey results. 132 households signed the petition - even more had responded in the survey to say they had no issue with the cats being there.
The Chairperson looked surprised but then asked how the cats are to be removed. The caregiver said they did not plan to remove the cats and pointed out the residents did not want them removed either.
She pointed out that the complainant had had cats removed several times in the past already and was still asking for the cats to be taken away.
According to the caregiver, the chairperson looked blank.The chairperson finally asked that a copy of the survey and petition be dropped off so she could discuss it with the RC.
The caregiver pointed out that far more people had responded than in her RC poll, and even then the RC members had been misinformed.
The RC Chairperson then said she would speak with the Secretariat, which is part of the PA apparently to determine what to do.
The caregiver pointed out that residents did not want the cats taken away and killed and the chairperson said they did not know what happened to the cats after they were taken away.
The caregiver pointed out that another RC member had clarified this point with her and that she did know now, to which she had no response apparently.
I have to say that I think willful ignorance should not be an excuse.
After all, an RC should be well informed - pretending they do not know, or failing to find out seems to go against the grain of what an RC member should do.
Saying I don't know is not good enough - certainly they should try and find out and not bury their heads in the sand?
Labels: Complaints, RC, survey
posted by Dawn @ 9:39 AM 9 comments
June 12, 2007
Animal carers given short shrift over cats' fate by RC
THE lives of three sterilised cats at Blk 875 Yishun St 81 are to be 'terminated" as a result of a survey conducted by Nee Soon Zone F RC which showed that 'two responders agreed and one responder disagreed to the removal of the cats'.
Madam Wong, a volunteer who lives in this block, did not receive the survey form. Hence, we were understandably upset as we have volunteered our time, effort and money in the neighbourhood's 'Cat Management' programme.
This includes trapping the community cats to be sterilised so that the population remains controlled and eventually reduced with natural attrition, as well as assisting the town council to resolve feedback about cats so that effective solutions are applied. 'Cat Management" helps the town council to conserve public funds by not engaging pest controllers to kill the cats.
Ms Pang, also a caregiver and resident of this RC zone, had sought Mr Goh Han Chuan, the Nee Soon Zone F chairman, for clarification on an earlier survey. However, she was treated with an attitude that was anything but courteous.
A chat with the residents of Blk 877 showed that:
1) The total number of residents spoken to: 36
2) 18 of them claimed not to have received the survey forms
3) 27 residents do not want the cats to be removed and killed
4) Seven are neutral
5) Two wanted the cats killed
Residents who merely file complaints with the RC were given due respect. Surely then, it is not unreasonable for residents such as Ms Pang and I to ask for the same degree of respect.
We appeal to the RC to work with us, not against, because we really have the same goal of reducing the conflicts between humans and cats.
We believe that a humane solution to the problems of living with cats in our midst sends a positive message to our young people whose lives seem to be imbibed with increasing violence and killing.
Singapore prides itself on its multiple achievements. Trap-Neuter-Release-and-Manage is an evidence-based method that will achieve a long-term and effective solution to our problems with cats.
'Cat Management" also provides a platform for residents of different races to work together, providing opportunities for us to know each other better which is a firm foundation of racial harmony.
Helga Koh Nee Gamp (Ms)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
STI Home > ST Forum > Story
July 3, 2006
Stop cruelty to animals, stop the apathy as well
WITH another case of animal abuse coming to light ('Cat abuser nabbed again for hitting kitten'; ST, June 28), we need to remind ourselves of the importance of being human. On this, two fundamental values come to mind.
First, we have to stop the brutality and unnecessary killing. Yes, we will kill for food and to defend our country and we have the death penalty. But the challenge is to distinguish when killing is necessary and justified and when we should exercise self-restraint.
Deliberate and indiscriminate killing of animals is definitely not justified, and brutality and torture of defenceless animals can only be condemned in the strongest terms.
Indiscriminate culling of cats and birds in housing estates is no less abhorrent to our fundamental values. The issue is sanctity of life and our respect for this sanctity. The authorities need to recognise this and evaluate alternatives rather than embark on another culling exercise.
That some among us can seek out animals with no means of defending themselves for the sole purpose of perpetrating acts of unspeakable cruelty and viciousness is all the more reprehensible and repulsive.
The words humane and humanity are derived from the word human, but given the brutality and unnecessary killing that now seems to be second nature to us, these words may evolve to bear meanings that are the opposite of what we now understand them to be - unless we uphold our fundamental values.
Second, we have to stop the apathy. If we look at these instances of brutality and unnecessary killing taking place in front of us and do nothing, we are no better than the perpetrators. The collective conscience of the public who stood by and watched as others were sent to the gas chambers during the Holocaust is no more clear than that of the Nazis of the Third Reich. We must therefore make a conscious effort to distinguish right from wrong and stop those who indulge in meaningless acts of brutality and indiscriminate killing.
On a personal level, we have a responsibility to teach our children and impress on our friends and neighbours the need to respect the sanctity of life. At the society level, we have to reinforce our fundamental values through legislation and the judicial system.
Only when we can defend our fundamental values and understand the importance of being human can we hope to become the gracious society espoused by the Singapore Kindness Movement.
Chin Chiu Ngo (Ms)
First-world Singapore has much to learn from poorer nations
Tuesday • December 30, 2008
Letter from Lucia Maes
I COULDN’T agree more with the I Say piece by Edric Sng, “Financial crisis, so what?”(Dec 29). It’s time for the people of the world to reflect on their own actions and their purposes in life.
I’m a frequent traveller to less developed countries, such as Nepal, and more developed ones, like Singapore. The difference in the way money and life are valued are stark.
The people in Nepal are impoverished beyond imagination, yet are still able to find it in their gentle hearts to be kind to a stranger like me — to be the best host they can, down to sharing their last grain of rice.
Their smiles are nothing short of the warmth on summer days.
Such folk do not own clothes without a tear in them, or a proper pair of shoes.
And even if they could, they do not desire to own luxury goods, instead preferring to spend time with their children and parents, sharing their days’ stories with each other.
My experience in Singapore, on the other hand, has shown me the other end of the spectrum.I saw no compassion among those whom I met on the streets, or on MRT trains when I had to travel to work during peak hours.
I was distressed to have seen several Singaporeans in a dilemma trying to decide if their Sunday high-tea session should be held at the Fullerton or at the Marriot.
I wish they would instead be thankful for the food placed in front of them. There are 900 million others in the world desperately crying out for just one bowl of rice per day to share between five children.
Singapore can boast of countless international accolades for its first-class services, infrastructure and attractions.
Unfortunately, when it comes to helping others, this country still retains a very third-class mentality.
The writer is a British citizen with family in Singapore.
KINOKAWA, Japan (AFP) - In times of need, Japanese say they can even ask the cat for help. In this town in western Japan, people look to Tama, a nine-year-old cat working as master of an unmanned train station. The tortoiseshell coloured creature, born and raised at Kishi Station on the provincial Kishigawa Line, wears a formal uniform cap of Wakayama Electric Railway and calmly watches passing passengers who greet her. There are 10 train stations on the 14.3-kilometre (8.9-mile) line.
"Tama is the only stationmaster as we have to reduce personnel costs. You say you could ask for the cat's help, but she is actually bringing luck to us," Wakayama Electric spokeswoman Keiko Yamaki said. The company feeds her in lieu of salary. Tama was born from a stray cat brought to the station by a cleaner and kept by Toshiko Koyama, a local who runs a grocery store next door.
The station went unmanned in April 2006 as the line was losing money. But Tama stuck around. She rose to national stardom in January 2007 as the railway company formally appointed her as "stationmaster". Her appointment had an immediately positive effect, boosting the number of passengers using the line in January by 17 percent from a year earlier. For the year to March 2007, the number of passengers rose to 2.1 million, up 10 percent from the previous 12 months, according to Yamaki.
Happy with her successful job as stationmaster, the company promoted Tama to "super-stationmaster" in January this year, making her "the only female in a managerial position" in the company's 36-strong workforce. "She now holds the fifth highest position in the company," Yamaki joked. In reward for the promotion, Tama got a new "office". The stationmaster's office, a renovated former ticket booth at the station, opened in April with the attendance of Kinokawa Mayor Shinji Nakamura and Wakayama Electric president Mitsunobu Kojima.
The office guarantees her some privacy. "She declines to relieve herself when passengers are looking. We set the toilet where passengers can't see," Yamaki said. Those who want to greet her must be careful so as not to miss her. "She works nine to five and takes Sundays off," Yamaki said. Tama commutes with Koyama, the grocery store operator, from a shed next to the station.
As Koyama tells her, "Ms Stationmaster, it's time to work," Tama comes along to the station, Yamaki said. The stationmaster is set to appear in a French documentary film, being directed by Myriam Tonelotto.
Tue, Dec 30, 2008 AFP
No modern Japanese sights here, but many cats
by Miwa Suzuki
TASHIRO ISLAND, JAPAN (AFP) - THE elderly residents of a small Japanese island swarming with cats are hoping that their trademark animals will attract something they've been missing for years - people.
The fishing village of Tashiro, known as Cat Island, has shunned dogs for centuries in the belief that cats invite a big catch.
The island's 100 residents, most of whom are aged well over 70, are hoping that cats will become a draw in a campaign to attract tourists and, hopefully, people who want to settle down here.
'You may think this place is so peaceful. But if there's a fire, there is nobody who can help put it out,' said Yutaka Hama, 49, who leads the Tashiro tourism promotion group.
'I want young people to come. There are folks here who would teach them fishing,' said Mr Hama, who moved to Tashiro a few years ago and is now an inn operator and fisherman.
Mr Hama's wife, Aiko, is by far the youngest woman here at age 37, with the second youngest woman in her 60s.
Besides dogs, there are lots of common sights in modern Japan that are absent from this island, from all-night convenience stores to traffic signals and children.
The human population has fallen ten-fold since 1960 as many moved to cities.
But a couple of years ago, Tashiro became famous as Cat Island when a television network introduced one of the moggies - Jack the Lop Ear, a shabby white-and-black tom with a drooping left ear - to the nation.
Jack is now a celebrity in the town, with his slowness compared with other cats only adding to his popularity.
'I'm so happy to see Jack,' said Shiho Amano, an 18-year-old cat lover who came from the central city of Nagoya to see a photo exhibition arranged by residents promoting tourism here.
'I want to live here after I retire,' the student said, showing the screen of her cellphone which had snapshots of the cat.
Jack is not the first cat to become a national idol in Japan, nor to help revive the fortunes of an area aching for life.
Tama, a tortoiseshell stray, was last year named 'master' of Kinokawa railway station in western Wakayama prefecture and given an official cap to go with the job. Her presence has led to a tourist - and financial - boom for the small city.
In the face of the apparent success of the campaign to use the cats to draw visitors, Tashiro's cat opponents have conceded defeat.
'I must say I appreciate them as they bring people here,' said Mitsue Tsuda, a 65-year-old avowed cat hater, who complains of cats sneaking into her house.
'They don't wipe their feet even when it's raining,' she said while admitting that the cats do look cute in the exhibited pictures.
Tashiro fishermen traditionally give part of their catch to cats, which are spotted everywhere on this 3.14 sq km island 20 km off the port city of Ishinomaki in northern Japan.
Kazuko Hatakeyama, 69, does not fish but some 20 cats 'commute' each day to her house, a result of her twice-a-day feeding for decades.
'Since they come to my place and plead for food so much, I don't have any other choice. Whenever I go out, they follow me,' she said as she fed the cats raising their paws and mewing loudly towards her.
The ferry between the island the mainland used to have only 10-20 passengers a day on its three daily trips after the summer season. But by September this year that number had roughly doubled year on weekdays and more than tripled on weekends.
'We see more people carrying cameras and food rather than fishing rods,' said an official of the Ajishima Line ferry, adding that tourists were still coming despite the winter weather.
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.
|Overhaul of HDB Cat Ownership Policy |
The policy not to allow cats to be kept in HDB flats is to minimise incidents of cats becoming a nuisance to residents (ST Jul 13) has good intentions but it has significant national implications for Singaporeans.
Firstly, it leads to a loss of public integrity as residents keeping cats will have to do so furtively as cat keeping is a breach of a term and condition in the HDB property sales & purchase agreement. Will the offender be evicted from his home?
Secondly, should one HDB official decide to use his power to enforce the over fifty-year-old policy, a large number of Singaporeans will be penalised since 90% of the population is reportedly living in HDB apartments. The issue may turn into a political hot potato during the election year. Using my personal experience, my veterinary practice, existing for 19 years in an HDB industrial park was asked to cease operations by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) official last year as veterinary clinics are not categoried as "industrial". I should relocate or become an industrialist although the URA & HDB had approved the use of the premises as "veterinary clinic" in a 1982 public tender.
Increasing Numbers Of Stray Cats
March 13, 2002
Your Feedback :
Some private estate residents are concerned about the increasing
numbers of stray cats on the streets and the environmental issues that
may arise because of that. They have approached the Society For The
Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals and the Agri-Food and Veterinary
Authority of Singapore (AVA) for help in sterilising the cats but were told
by the latter that members need to live in HDB dwellings in order to
qualify for the help. As such, residents are interested in finding out what
other avenues of help can they seek in sterilising the cats to curb its
Reply from Ministry :
When the residents of private estates mentioned about approaching AVA
to sterilise stray cats to control the population, I believe they may have
AVA's Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme in mind. This scheme was started
for HDB estates in August 1998 as a way to control the stray cat
population humanely through sterilisation and responsible management of
Under this scheme, residents of HDB estates can apply to register with
AVA or their town councils if they wish to help control stray cats
through sterilisation and responsible management. They will qualify for
registration (and henceforth called volunteers) if they can meet the
conditions of registration which include working towards getting at least
90% of the cats in their area sterilised, managing the cats so that they
can live harmoniously in the neighbourhood and assisting the town
council to deal with complaints about the cats they manage.
The majority of these volunteers begin by putting in their own time,
money and effort to get the cats sterilised and manage the cats. To
assist them, AVA will sterilise some of the cats if the town council
requests AVA to do so. The volunteers have to arrange to catch and
transport the cats and the cats must be accompanied with an original
signed letterhead from the town council. A prior surgery appointment
must be made.
For your information about a year ago the scheme was extended to
private areas that have an area management or residents' committee to
work with the volunteers to control the cats. The conditions of
registration and how the scheme works remain the same. If the
committee would like to participate in the scheme and requests AVA to
sterilise the cats we will do so upon receiving a formal written request.
If yourself or your residents would like further clarification about the
scheme or advice on how to be involved in managing stray cats
humanely, please contact us. Thank you.
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore
Date Of Reply: 13 March 2002
Dr Lou Ek Hee, Head, Animal Welfare Section, AVA
14000 stray cats culled per year. 4,000 complaints about cats per year.
Kinder and more gracious society. Majority does not want the stray cats "culled".
July 10, 2001. Straits Times. Forum page.
Cats make great pets in HDB
I REFER to Minister of State (National Development) Vivian
Balakrishnan's comments in Parliament ('Animal abusers to face heavier
penalties'; ST, July 9).
Firstly, we would like to point out that 28 veterinarians support our
proposal to allow HDB residents to keep cats as pets and have confirmed
they are excellent apartment animals. Increasingly, cats are becoming the
most popular pet for urban dwellers.
With sterilisation, they are content to remain housebound and indoors.
Furthermore, we have stated clearly in our proposal that only people who
agree to keep cats responsibly, i.e. indoors, will be allowed to keep them.
Secondly, sterilisation is different for cats and humans. Unlike humans, cats
lose all interest in mating once they are sterilised. As such, caterwauling,
howling and 'post-coital agony' will no longer be an issue. The Cat
Welfare Society advocates sterilisation of all home cats and stray cats.
Thirdly, the minister may have confused the issue of stray cats and indoor
pets. The complaints, which the minister refers to, seem to be in relation to
stray cats which have not been sterilised or managed properly. This will
not be a problem with pet cats, which need to be sterilised, microchipped
and kept indoors, under our proposal.
By allowing HDB residents to keep cats in flats, the number of stray cats
will decrease, which will in turn lower the number of complaints.
We believe that the minister may not have read our proposal or may have
been mistaken as to its contents. We will be sending a copy to him. We
hope to meet the Ministry of National Development to clarify the
misconceptions with regard to our proposal.
For details of our proposal, please visit our website at
July 13, 2002 Straits Times Forum Page.
Proposal on cats under study
I REFER to the letters, 'Cats make great pets in HDB flats' by Ms Dawn
Kua from the Cat Welfare Society and 'Sterilised felines won't be a
nuisance' by Ms Deirdre Moss from the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals (ST, July 10). We thank both for their comments.
The Housing Board does not permit cats to be kept in HDB flats in order
to minimise incidents of cats becoming a nuisance to residents.
Nonetheless, we are studying the Cat Welfare Society's latest proposal
and will inform it of the outcome of our review in due course.
SOO SIEW KEONG
Ministry of National Development
(NOTE: some links still point back to post links on tec’s old address, updates are pending)
Please speak up against this injustice. Please seriously consider adding your voice to the appeal by:
HDB bans cats, period. Doesn’t matter what you keep in your flat, as long as it’s not prohibited by AVA, is not a large dog nor a cat.
HDB has to consider the overall sentiments of the HDB residents when setting policies and rules. Not all residents like pets, or are comfortable with neighbours keeping pets. HDB has allowed one dog of an approved breed to be kept in an HDB flat. The approved breeds of dogs are the smaller dogs which are generally more manageable. Please click here for the list of approved breeds of dogs.
Cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats. HDB also allows flat owners to keep other pet animals such as fish, hamsters, rabbits, birds, etc which generally do not cause nuisance to the neighbouring residents. (source)
Chronically, HDB refuses to look the flaws of its’ cat-ban in the face. It continues to insist that
“cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats as they are nomadic in nature and it is difficult to confine them to flats. Cats can shed fur, dirty public places, make noise and cause disturbance. Despite the prohibition on cats, HDB has been receiving from residents numerous complaints relating to cats.
As our priority is to promote a pleasant living environment and good relationships for all residents in our housing estates, HDB will maintain its existing policy on not allowing cats to be kept in the flats.“
Contrast the leeway allowed to keep other fur-shedding animals, and even nuisance causing yapping small dogs. How does HDB dodge the issue? Let us count the ways:
Letters in The New Paper (Jan 2006 to Present)
The following are letters from the public, and a column published in the New Paper since January 2006 and HDB’s sole response on the anti-cat rule. Very noteworthy is the fact that the HDB has only responded to the letter “Why is HDB against cats in flats?“.
- Feline Attraction (New Paper, January 16, 2006) (Add’l ref)
- Why is HDB against cats in flats? (New Paper, January 22, 2006)
- HDB won’t allow cats in flats (New Paper, February 11, 2006)
- SPCA: Allow cats in HDB flats (New Paper, February 16, 2006)
- Cats’ bad habits no worse than dogs’ (New Paper, February 18, 2006)
- HDB must update its knowledge about cats (New Paper, February 23 2006)
- Ban both cats and dogs from HDB flats (New Paper, February 23 2006)
- Pets can be therapeutic to elderly (New Paper, March 1, 2006)
- Cats are purr-fect pets, yes, even in HDB flats (New Paper, March 7, 2006)
- Cats less noisy than some HDB residents (New Paper, March 17, 2006)
(Discussion threads: HDB’s chronic misconception of cats - contains letter communications between members of public and HDB on this ridiculous ban. Highlight: HDB’s shameless application of the template reply, evne after the claims have been refuted!)
The Cat Welfare Society Appeals (2001 – 2002)
14 Oct 02 - With the ongoing effort of Catwelfare Society to appeal to the Ministry of National Development to relax the rulings against keeping cats as pets in HDB flats, its easy to get lost in the letters and responses. Dr. Lynn Yeo has kindly compiled the incidents into an easy to read chronological summary of the ongoing exchange for your convenience. Included is also a summary of the details of the proposal. by Dr Lynn Yeo
A SUMMARY OF EVENTS
- 6 September 2001 CWS writes to the Minister for National Development, appealing for a review of the HDB rule against the keeping of cats. CWS submits a Proposal for MND’s consideration.
- 16 October 2001 CWS meets with officials from MND and HDB to discuss the matter.
- 26 February 2002 MND turns down CWS appeal, citing concerns about irresponsible ownership and difficulties of implementation as the main reasons for the rejection.
- 5 July 2002 CWS submits an amended Proposal addressing MND’s concerns and providing workable solutions. CWS reiterates that the fundamental basis for the Proposal is responsible pet ownership - only those who abide by the strict guidelines will be allowed to keep cats.
- 8 July 2002 HDB ruling on cats is brought up in Parliament.
- 2 August 2002 MND turns down our appeal again, citing the same reasons as before.
- LATEST UPDATE: 2nd September 2002 CWS writes to MND expressing disappointment with the negative response. The latest official response did not appear to have taken our suggestions and amended proposal on board. CWS has requested another meeting with the MND and HDB to further discuss the matter and clarify our position. We are awaiting their reply.
- CWS PROPOSAL AT A GLANCE: The Proposal was submitted to support our appeal to the MND and HDB to consider changing the rules which presently disallow the keeping of cats as pets in HDB flats. The following were cited in support of a change in the rules:
- A large number of HDB dwellers would like to keep cats as pets. In a survey conducted over a period of 2 weeks, an overwhelming 2,500 respondents expressed the desire to keep cats in HDB flats and supported a change in the rules.
- 32 veterinary surgeons supported our Proposal and testified that cats are ideal apartment pets.
- Contrary to belief, cats once sterilised: * do NOT roam and will happily stay indoors * do NOT caterwaul because there is no longer an urge to mate or fight for territory
- Cats are easily toilet-trained and when kept indoors do NOT pose problems for either the owner or neighbours. Cats are clean, quiet, spend 80% of their time sleeping, and do not need to be walked.
- Cats make excellent pets for the urban dweller and provide companionship for people of all ages. Disallowing cats in flats would deprive the majority of us from these benefits.
- The existing rule discriminates against cat lovers. Cats are the only domestic animals not allowed to be kept as pets.
- CWS RECOMMENDATIONS: CWS has recommended the following which address all the concerns raised by MND and HDB:
- All cats in HDB flats must be: Sterilised; Vaccinated; Electronically tagged (mircochipped). This will ensure that pet cats will not breed, are healthy, and the owners can easily be identified. The tag will also allow appropriate action to be taken against irresponsible owners who abandon their cats. Microchipping is a simple, safe and painless procedure. A small chip about the size of a rice grain is inserted under the cat’s skin by way of a quick injection. The chip contains information about the cat and its owner.
- The cat(s) must be kept indoors at all times, and the owner must make sure that windows and doors are appropriately fenced up and secured so that the cat(s) cannot run out of the flat.
- There should not be more than 3 cats per household to ensure sufficient space and attention for the cats.
- A compassionate transitional stage where owners of more than three cats will be allowed to keep their cats until their natural death. With natural attrition, the number of cats will eventually be adjusted to the stipulated 3 per flat.
- Only residents who comply with all the above terms and conditions will be allowed to keep cats in HDB flats. They must be registered with the local RC or Town Council as the legal and responsible owner of the cat(s).
- CWS will assist MND and HDB with the registration process and help ensure that all the stipulated conditions are complied with. This will help ease the strain on their existing manpower resources.
- Letter to Ministry of National Development: Revising the HDB pet rules (September 6, 2001)
- CWS’s New Proposal to HDB/ MND (July 5, 2002)
- Another appeal to let cats into HDB flats (July 7, 2002)
- Cats Are Still Not Welcome in HDB Flats: Reply from MND (September 1, 2002)
- MEETING WITH HDB 23RD OCTOBER 2002
- Letters to the press on this issue published during this period - Cats Make Great Pets in HDB Flats (11 Jul 02) -
An Appeal/Study In Support of Allowing Cats In Flats, and Sterilisation of Strays In Place of Culling
Overhaul of HDB Cat Ownership Policy
Other Letters Mentioning Cats
- Traumatised by animal cruelty – even after 18 years (Today, 23 March, 2006) [ref case] “When we moved into a flat, we were only allowed to keep dogs. It’s a shame because cats are clean animals which adapt themselves better to a flat.”
- Psst… mr brown, your help’s needed. Desperately! (TODAY, 20060406)
The justification for this rule continues to remain questionable
Again, please speak up against this injustice. Please seriously consider adding your voice to the appeal by:
The Debate Rages in January 2007
Straits Times letters
- ST 20070125: HDB should replace ban with rules to enforce responsible ownership of cats
- ST 20070125: Why HDB should ban cat and dog ownership in flats
- ST 20070123: Clean and quiet, cats make perfect indoor pets
- ST 20070123: SPCA backs bid to let cats live in HDB flats
- ST 20070122: Ruling on cats in flats not fair to responsible owners
- ST 20070119: HDB’s anti-cat policy is antiquated
- ST 20070117: Don’t ban cats in flats, HDB
- TODAY 20070129: Do cats belong in our HDB estates?
- TODAY 20070124: Forced to put on the coat of Dr Death
- TODAY 20070120: ‘Because cats scare me’ is not a good reason
- TODAY 20070119: Killing strays is not an act of kindness
- TODAY 20070116: a mayor’s pet lesson FOR us
Yet town councils choose the easy but ineffective response to complaints by "culling" the birds and cats just because they cannot speak out!
Residents who throw food down to feed birds and/or cats are responsible!
Residents who keep cats but do not sterilise them and then subsequently abandoning litter after litter of kittens are responsible!
Residents who allow their home cats to roam, annoying neighbours, are responsible!
Residents who feed cats but leave a mess of leftover are responsible!
Tuesday December 30, 2008
Litterbugs at root of pigeon problem
SOME time ago, I came across a large number of pigeons behind a block of HDB flats Most were dead, and a few were in convulsions.
Recently, a pest controller told a friend of mine that poisoned breadcrumbs were used to kill pigeons, as instructed by the town council.
My concern is the danger this poses to curious children and pet dogs.
I also think that this method of culling pigeons is ineffective, as birds are encouraged to gather in estates by residents who throw food from their windows.
The pigeons will return if such irresponsible habits are not correspondingly “culled”.
The town council cannot continue to cull pigeons as a default response to complaints about the birds, but should put in effort to get the real culprits - those who litter.
I would like to know if it is legal to cull pigeons with poison, and whether it contravenes laws against animal cruelty, as the dying pigeons seemed to have been undergoing a tremendous amount of suffering.
Dr Tan Chek Wee
Monday, December 29, 2008
Today, the wound seemed to have healed.
There are so many dangers lurking at every corner on the streets.
Could this wound have been inflicted intentionally by an abuser?
A few months ago, the Senior Property Officer (SPO) of the Town Council informed me that a father has called to complain that a cat has attacked his child. He was able to identify the cat.
This cat was named Tuxedo by a resident who lives in the same block. She is one of two cats that belong to a Malay family living on the second storey. In March last year, the family needed some persuasion by two fellow residents involved in TnRM of the neighbourhood, to have the two cats sterilised (at caregivers' expense). After the cats were returned to them with advice to keep them indoor, these two cats continue to be “free roaming”. This has resulted in a complaint by another Malay family that said the cats jumped into their flat from the parapet frightening a daughter and recently this “cat attacked child” complaint. If only there are regulations to fine such irresponsible cat owners! Such irresponsible cat owners also jeopardise the lives of downstairs community cats as they could be rounded up by pest controllers in response to complaints to the town council.
These two cats were brought to the vet on 27-03-2007 and they were mother and daughter. The caregivers wondered how many litters been abandoned before they were sterilised as the vet called up later to say that both these two cats were found to be pregnant during the surgery.
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