Friday, August 28, 2009
BELOVED PET: MsChin and Mr Foo showing an image of August on the computer screen. TNP PICTURE: KELVIN CHNG
The Electric New Paper :
IN A FLAP OVER LOST PARROT
Choa Chu Kang woman
# Spends $1,000 to print 70,000 fliers and hire 3 full-time distributors
# Offers $1,000 reward
By Benson Ang
28 August 2009
HER neighbours call her 'Auntie Parrot'.
They often saw her sunbathing her parrot on a grass patch next to her flat at Block 510, Choa Chu Kang Street 51, and taking it for walks in the neighbourhood.
After the parrot, named August, went missing at the end of last month, Ms Alice Chin, 40, has not spared money, effort or time to try to get it back.
The business development manager spent more than $1,000 to print and distribute 70,000 fliers throughout her neighbourhood.
She showed us receipts for the printing costs and said three people are working for her full time, slotting the fliers into letter boxes throughout the whole of Choa Chu Kang and Yew Tee.
'I think the cost is reasonable. I just want my bird to come back,' she said.
About 40,000 fliers were distributed last Wednesday, and another 30,000 fliers will be distributed to the same flats today.
'Hopefully, when the people see the same flier the second time, they will be touched that we love August so much and return it to us,' said Ms Chin.
Besides hiring the full-time distributors, she and her husband, Mr Lawrence Foo, 49, a laboratory technician, pasted fliers everywhere, including shops and free notice boards, and asked the security guards of nearby condominiums to help paste the fliers for them.
They also placed advertisements offering a $1,000 reward on several websites and sent an e-mail to Stomp last Saturday.
All for a bird that cost $850 three years ago.
The reason for their obsession?
August helped them get through the saddest moments of their lives.
One of Ms Chin's immediate family members died each year for four years - her nephew in 2003, her father-in-law in 2004, her mother in 2005 and her father in 2006.
The couple bought August in November 2007 to distract them from their pain, and it lifted their spirits through its 'silly and stupid antics'.
'That's why the love and bond with August is so different from that with a normal pet,' said Ms Chin.
August is a 3-year-old male African grey parrot. Its coat is largely grey, except for a bright red tail. It has a black beak and an identification number tagged to one of its legs.
Ask her about her pet, and Ms Chin waxes lyrical, describing it as 'very smart' and 'intelligent'.
August is also more than just a pet to the couple, who are childless. Ms Chin said that when talking to August, she addresses herself as 'Mummy' and her husband as 'Papa'.
'It is just like a kid to us. It's very special.'
August is free to walk around the house, has a blanket to snuggle under at night and likes to go 'shopping', that is, going around the neighbourhood perched on Ms Chin's forearm.
It likes unsalted cashew nuts and millet seeds, but Ms Chin admits that it is 'overweight'.
How does she know? She weighed it with a special weighing machine she bought in 2007. It weighs 485g, compared to the breed's average of 350g.
The one thing she regrets is making August 'feel unwanted' on the night it disappeared, at about 10pm.
She had just returned from a two-week business trip to Canada and was suffering from jet lag. When August tried to perch itself on her thigh, she shooed it away.
'He walked underneath the sofa set and, all of a sudden, just flew out the window.
'I was so stunned. Why did my bird fly away?'
Armed with torches, the couple tried searching for August in a country club opposite their flat until 3am.
The nights that followed were mostly sleepless ones as they continued looking for the bird after work.
They have 10 other birds - finches and a mynah.
The only other time August went missing was in 2007, when it flew out a window after it was scared by the sound of a vacuum cleaner. It was found seven days later.
Ms Chin hopes August will return to her once again, although the calls she has received so far were fruitless.
She gets upset when she receives prank calls claiming August is dead or when neighbours ignore her fliers.
She had a tip-off yesterday that a parrot was found, but it turned out to be a different one.
'I have no commercial agenda. I just want to find my pet which is lost and doesn't know how to come home by itself.
'I know that it sounds very dramatic, but it's real.'
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat. Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and, shall we say, love.
The combination of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on Ugly. To start with, he had only one eye and where the other should have been was a hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his left foot appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner.
Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby, striped type, except for the sores covering his head, neck, and even his shoulders
Every time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction. "That's one UGLY cat!!!"
All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave. Ugly always had the same reaction.
If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around your feet in forgiveness.
Whenever he spied children, he would come running, meowing frantically and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love.
If you ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.
One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbor's dogs. They did not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly's sad life was almost at an end.
As I picked him up and tried to carry him home, I could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. It must be hurting him terribly, I thought.
Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear. Ugly, in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying, was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring.
Even in the greatest pain, that ugly battled scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion.
At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.
Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held him for a long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true pureness of spirit,
to love so totally and truly.
Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful. He had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and deeply. To give my total to those I cared for.
Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me...
I will always try to be Ugly.
Read about this "ugly" cat called NEC
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
On recognising foreign workers' contributions
Rabbit rescue reveals workers' real character
I REFER to the letter by Mr Arthur Lim 'Appreciate the good foreign workers do' (The New Paper, 24 Aug).
26 August 2009
I fully agree that it is time we give some recognition and credit to foreign workers who have contributed to the development of Singapore.
Sometime last year, I received information that a rabbit was seen roaming around a construction site in Bishan.
I went there to find out more about it. I was initially apprehensive that either the rabbit would have met with an accident or would have ended up as a meal for the workers there.
After waiting at the worksite for a while for a fellow bunny rescuer, I asked the foreman about the rabbit.
I must admit it was unnerving to be among so many foreign workers who were probably wondering what I was doing there.
I barely managed to communicate with them in basic English, but they quickly understood my intention and sprung into action to locate the rabbit.
Apparently, they have been feeding the bunny for the past three months.
After a three-hour search we managed to locate the rabbit.
I offered to buy them drinks as a token of my appreciation, and they agreed eventually after declining politely at first.
I learnt a few lessons from this saga.
I shouldn't have assumed that the workers would have eaten the rabbit, simply because of a notion based on hearsay.
Our complacency has made us so selfish that even in emergencies, all we are concerned about is to take photos and note down 4D numbers.
We sometimes turn a blind eye to cries for help, even in times when it doesn't cost anything to make a call for assistance.
These are times, when shunned foreign workers are first on the scene to help out people who have been in an accident.
Isn't it sad that in times of danger, it's people not related to us who risk their lives to help, instead of those who share a closer, common trait?
Let's start to look at these people in a different light.
FROM READER DELPHINE GOH
Charlie, a construction worker from India, fed this abandoned cat until she acquired a liking for curry rice! She was later brought for neutering, boarded and then rehomed!
The cat, named Cai-Lee (after Char-Lie), was adopted by Mary, who took this photo on 11th August 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Cat Welfare Society Hong Kar residents please look out. Pest control has been called down to catch every Tues and Thurs at Chua Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Jurong. This is the time to stand up and work together!
DR AMY KHOR LEAN SUAN
Job Title : MAYOR, SOUTH WEST DISTRICT, &
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES & DEPUTY GOVERNMENT WHIP
(HONG KAH*) - MAYOR
Hong Kah Town Council
309 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4
#02-02 Choa Chu Kang Centre
Tel 6764 3295
Fax 6764 7208
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Bukit Gombak Branch
Blk 524 Bukit Batok St 52
Tel 6569 0388
Fax 6569 1990
Blk 952 Jurong West St 91
Tel 6791 5755
Fax 6791 7372
Join Facebook Group: Stop Culling and Revive Stray Cats Rehabilitation Scheme in Singapore
Even if you are not a resident under Hong Kah Town Council, you have the right to speak out against wasting taxpayers' money killing the cats at the AVA.
The Electric New Paper :
Who says S'poreans don't care about strays?
Busker in S'pore, pet saviour in Johor
THIS man's work is never done.
By Jonathan Choo
25 August 2009
THIS man's work is never done.
Every morning, he leaves his home in Jurong at 6am to cross the Causeway.
It is a 45-minute van ride to two unfinished brick houses on an isolated plot of land beside a quiet cemetery at Ulu Tiram in Johor Baru.
There waits a colony of unwanted pets who solely depend on him to care for them. Meet Singaporean Don Martin, 57.
The animals comprise 55 stray dogs, five kittens and seven cats.
From the time the bachelor pushes open the 6m-long rusty iron gate of the 4ha plot of land to the time he leaves, Mr Martin has his work cut out for him.
First, he feeds the stray cats and kittens. Then for an hour, he uses old newspapers to painstakingly clear animal faeces from both houses.
Next, he collects water from a nearby well and washes the floors thoroughly. Cleaning, mopping, and refilling the water bowls take him a good four hours.
Feeding the other animals comes next, and it is not as simple as just dishing out food.
Most of the dogs have skin problems and Mr Martin, who keeps a record of their ailments, feeds them their medication individually.
The love he shows them is clearly reciprocated - every single stray responds to him when he calls them individually.
He has built fences to partition the land and space inside the houses into six different territories for the dogs, in order to prevent them from fighting during feeding time.
By 4pm, he finishes the last of his chores - washing all the feeding bowls. Then he allows himself a short rest on a discarded sofa bed he had put in the house. This is where he plays his guitar to relax.
Before leaving at 5pm, he refills all the water bowls, and switches on a radio and a light bulb to deter burglars.
But his day is not done. He works to earn money for the animals' upkeep.
In the evenings, he gives guitar lessons either at the Punggol or Taman Jurong Community Clubs, then busks at the underpass between Clarke Quay and Boat Quay.
When time permits, he also works as a musician, playing in bands at private functions. On Sundays, he works as a fruit seller at Pasir Ris Farmway 3.
Whatever he earns is spent on the pets.
Food and medication for the animals cost about $1,700 monthly, he says.
Occasionally, he gets help from the Singapore Animal Shelter. Some Johorean students donate dog food now and then.
It has been six years since he first moved in with 30 strays dogs, 18 of which are from Singapore.
He obtained licences, health certificates and export permits from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to take the dogs to Johor.
He also had to pay to obtain import permits from the Johor government.
'I couldn't afford to house the strays in Singapore because of the rising rental costs,' said Mr Martin.
He is grateful to his landlords, a Chinese couple in their 50s, who allowed him the use of the land.
'I originally intended to sell my Jurong flat and use the money to buy the land,' he said.
But after much negotiation, they allowed him to use the fruit farm for his strays for a token sum. He intends to save enough money to buy the land eventually.
His devotion to rescuing strays began in the 1960s when a stray kitten wandered into his former flat in Telok Blangah. That cat stayed with him for 12 years.
Subsequently, he took in two more stray cats which later produced 15 kittens.
Why is he so devoted?
He said: 'Once I started giving shelter to the stray dogs and cats, I couldn't stop. They are part of me. Even if one dog goes missing, I will not stop until I find him.'
Monday, August 24, 2009
Only when residents cooperate to keep their part of the bargain can we maintain cleanliness in housing estates
Aug 24, 2009
Town council report card fine but residents must do their part
I REFER to last Saturday's report, 'Town council report card every six months'.
I applaud the Ministry of National Development for introducing measures to improve the efficiency of the town councils.
While cleanliness, maintenance of facilities and financial management are part of the town council's work, I feel that residents of housing estates should shoulder their responsibilities equally, especially in two areas - cleanliness and correct use of facilities.
How can town councils keep estates clean if residents do not pick up after themselves?
When you visit some HDB flats, you find residents cluttering the corridors with unwanted items or discarding them in other common areas.
The Housing Board should introduce stricter rules on what can be left at lift landings and in common areas.
Only when residents cooperate to keep their part of the bargain can we maintain cleanliness in housing estates.
Yap Seng Bee
Educate irresponsible feeders to curb strays
I WRITE in response to the letter, “Culling avoided unless cats are a nuisance”, by Ms PngChiew Hoon of Marine Parade Town Council (my paper, Aug 20) .
I agree that some people behave irresponsibly when they feed our community cats. They do not clean up the leftovers, or lead cats upstairs into HDB blocks to feed them.
However, the majority of feeders do not behave this way as they have been well-educated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Cat Welfare Society.
I am glad that Ms Png states that “public education remains an important part of (the town council’s) strategy for controlling the number of strays within the community”.
This would be a more costeffective solution in the long run as it addresses the root of the problem.
However, I am disturbed to learn that Ms Png had received complaints from residents who have a “phobia of cats”, also known as ailurophobia. This a treatable condition, and people who suffer from it should seek medical help.
By responding to the irrational fears of a few residents, the town council would nullify the efforts of residents who are taking care of strays using their own resources.
Ms Melissa Lim May Lin
Below is the original letter (permission granted for posting)
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:36 PM
Subject: Reference: Marine Parade Town Council’s Reply to Letter on Culling of Sterilised Cats
I refer to your letter on behalf of Marine Parade Town Council, dated 20 August 2009 and published in My Paper.
Irresponsible Feed and the Ineffectiveness of Culling Measures
I would agree that some – not all – feeders are irresponsible when they feed our community cats, in that they do not clean up leftovers, or lead cats upstairs to higher levels in HDB blocks for feeding purposes.
Nevertheless, many of the feeders in our community have been well educated by the SPCA and Cat Welfare Society’s endeavours to promote Responsible Cat Feeding. In order to eradicate the problem caused by food left behind by some feeders, it is imperative that we collectively work together to educate any such irresponsible feeders. By that, I mean that the Town Council needs to work alongside the Cat Welfare Society, SPCA and responsible cat caregivers to reach out to these other feeders. I would strongly suggest that the Town Council look into dialogue with all parties as soon as possible.
The reason why I urge for such communications is simple: leaving the issue of whether culling is inhumane or otherwise aside, culling has been proven time and time again to be a cost-ineffective measure. Culling does not change the fact that irresponsible feeding will still persist, and when the latter continues, more culling will be done because a vacuum would have been created within the current cat community (with most cats already sterilised by caregivers using our own funds). Thus, other cats – and worse, pests – will enter the precinct to feed on the leftover food by irresponsible feeders.
The Importance of Public Education In Collaboration With All Parties
Collective funds of the residents should be better utilised: education rather than stop-gap measures such as culling will work to maintain a long-term solution for everyone in the community. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that constant and active dialogue as well as education measures will cost much less than repeated culling. Given that there is already a current review of town councils’ expenditure, I am sure you would agree that careful and prudent use of funds for long-term solutions would be more advisable than recurrent expenditure which not only do not solve the issue at hand, but instead exacerbate it.
I am heartened to note that in your letter, you stated that “[p]ublic education remains an important part of our strategy for controlling the number of strays within the community.” May I enquire what these measures as part of your strategy in public education are please?
I would strongly suggest as well to strengthen your efforts by working with SPCA and Cat Welfare Society, to ensure the best and widest outreach for your strategies. Kindly let us all know what your public education efforts are, so that we can work collectively on this.
The Irrational Fear of Cats
In your letter, you further mentioned that the Town Council had received complaints from residents who have a “phobia of cats”. The term in psychology and medicine used for this is ailurophobia. More information can be found here:
“Ailurophobia is a type of specific phobia. It is a persistent, irrational fear of cats.”
“An abnormal and persistent fear of cats which produces an undue anxiety reaction even though sufferers realize their fear is irrational.”
Firstly, I would like to point out that ailurophobia is a treatable condition. It would be wise for the complainants to seek immediate medical and psychological treatment for their disorder. Should you require information about possible doctors and therapists for your complainants to seek assistance and consultation, do let me know and I could ask my friends within the medical community for help.
Secondly, I find it rather disturbing that the Town Council has acted on such irrational fears of individual residents by culling cats, thereby not taking into account the efforts, care and concern shown by other residents who take care of these cats with our own resources and funds. Would the Town Council take similar measures for other irrational fears of residents then? What then of residents who may have irrational fears of children, elevators in lifts, dark places, etc.? The list, obviously, could go on.
Again, may I reiterate that it is important not to resort to a stop-gap temporary solution to the matter at hand. The complainants do have a problem, and I acknowledge that. The solution to their problem is to seek treatment for their phobias, rather than to adopt a piecemeal approach by temporarily eradicating cats in their area. The cats will return because there is a vacuum created, and because there still is food leftover by irresponsible feeders who need to be educated – and the complainants will still have their phobias unresolved. This is going to result in a cycle of culling – and most importantly, wasteful expenditure.
As I understand, some other Town Councils in Singapore have adopted measures to aid with the rehabilitation and sterilisation of community cats, alongside efforts to educate caregivers and residents on responsible feed and general upkeep of the precinct. This should be something of interest to Marine Parade Town Council. I believe this sort of islandwide coordination would also be in line with the Housing Development Board’s Town Council Coordination section, which is part of the Properties and Land Department.
I hope that the Town Council can address my concerns as stated above. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Concerned about what goes on at pet farms
23 August 2009
I REFER to the report 'Is this the work of irresponsible dog breeders?' (The New Paper, 21 Jun).
I was appalled by the sight of abandoned pedigrees in the article.
I am a animal lover myself and am a regular volunteer at some of the pet farms, taking care of the cats, along Pasir Ris Farmway.
Although it wasn't confirmed that the dogs mentioned in the article were from any of the farms there, I am concerned about what goes on in most pet farms here and the quality of service that they provide for boarders.
I was recently at the Ericsson Pet Farm at Pasir Ris Farmway.
I was helping out there when the water supply was shut off.
When I asked, I was told that the management had started a practice of shutting off the water supply to boarders from noon to 5pm.
The reason given by the management was that they had allegedly received a complaint from SP Services claiming that the waste from the farm was clogging up the sewage system.
And should the matter persist, the farm could be fined.
What puzzles me is why this would be an issue as waste is supposed to end up in the sewage system anyway.
It's disturbing to know that the farm chose to shut down the water supply during a very hot period of the day.
Even during the afternoon that I was there, I could see that many of the animals were either listless or agitated because of the heat.
That, I believe, eventually resulted in a dog fight that took place at one of the kennels.
Since the water supply was shut down, the kennel keepers were not able to hose the dogs to separate them.
This leaves me wondering whether such practices of shutting down the water supply on the pet farms is right and practical.
Depriving the animals of water, even for a few hours of the day, is inhumane.
It may be the responsibility of the pet farm to ensure that they have sufficient water rations during the shut down.
FROM READER ZURAIDAH MOHAMED OSMAN
To support Zuraidah,
DR LOU EK HEE
Job Title : HEAD
DID : 64719995
Unit: ANIMAL WELFARE REGULATIONS BRANCH (AWRB)
Parent: ANIMAL WELFARE & CONTROL DIVISION (AWCD)
Organisation: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE (AVA)
or New Paper
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Aug 22, 2009
TC report every 6 months
All 16 councils will be gauged in not more than five key areas
By Kor Kian Beng
TOWN councils are set to come under the spotlight every six months from next year, when a report card is put out on how well they are running their HDB housing estates. The likely frequency was disclosed by Senior Minister of State (National Development) Grace Fu on Friday.
She also said that the 16 town councils (TCs) are likely to be assessed in five areas, which will be kept simple and easy to measure.
She was speaking to reporters after holding a discussion with a panel of experts on what should be on the list of criteria, grouped under three categories: cleanliness, maintenance of facilities and financial management.
Her ministry, which oversees public housing, is planning to introduce a Town Council Management Report (TCMR) regularly, to provide a framework for TCs and residents to discuss how they can improve their estates further, if necessary.
Explaining the form of the report, Ms Fu said HDB officials will go round the estate and give the TC grades under each criterion.
The TCs will not be ranked but will be banded, which could be in the form of A, B or C. But no decision on the banding has been made yet.
Ms Fu gave some possible measures. For cleanliness, it could be the number of litter spotted; for maintenance, it could be the number of defects or lift breakdowns; for financial management, it could be how the TCs manage the arrears of residents in service and conservancy charges.
She also said she wants the report to foster closer communication between the town councils and residents so that they can work together to improve the estates.
Mr Zainudin Nordin, chairman of the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council, said the half-yearly assessment might take some getting used to at the start but it is still a reasonable timeframe.
'We're required to do a good job anyway. We just have to maintain it and be ready all the time,' he said.
Read the full story in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times
Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org to express concerns that some town councils more often than not adopt quick fixes rather than proper evaluation of the situations at hand and engagement with all stakeholders/parties. It could be due to their wrong understanding that community animals are unhygienic/unhealthy or could be that irresponsible feeders are making them feel more urgent to act.
Friday, August 21, 2009
The below email dialogue with a fellow reader is about the ethics of neutering cats to prevent the multiplication of strays, which might lead to their culling by animal control authorities. She is for the neutering of cats, but was posed some tricky questions by other Buddhists. (She keeps two vegan cats, one a stray and the other rescued from the pound.)
Q: Doesn’t sterilising (neutering) cats create negative karma?
A: No – if the intention is not to harm but to save them. Karma is created by our intentions – negative karma by negative intentions; positive karma by positive intentions. It is worth noting that even a household cat might become a stray if it runs away or gets lost. If a cat-owner has no intention or ability to care for potential offsprings of his or her cat, neutering should be considered.
Q: If the surgery causes pain, doesn’t this create negative karma?
A: The pain in neutering surgery is taken care of by anesthetics, while the pain during recovery is short-lived and incidental, for the cats’ own safety in future (from being caught and culled as troublesome strays.)
Q: If cats don’t wish to be castrated, doesn’t this create negative karma?
A: Indeed, no animal would want to be castrated. But more so do they not want to be culled due to not being castrated.
Q: Wouldn’t neutering cats create the karma of having no offsprings of our own?
A: No, since what created is the karma to save. One creates the karmic potential to be saved from being killed instead. If one neuters another with the gleefully evil intention to prevent the next generation from being born, so as to cause suffering somehow (which is different from the good intention of preventing culling), one would then create the karmic potential to not have offsprings.
Q: It disturbs me that cats are unwilling to be castrated.
A: Cats probably would not endorse being neutered if they could speak, but they would consent if they could comprehend the bleak reality that they are likely to be culled if not neutered. Neither would they want their many potential offsprings to be culled. Just as kids who don’t understand the purpose of taking bitter medicine are ‘forced’ to do so anyway, likewise, cats who don’t understand our good intentions are still better off neutered. Kids might not know any better due to lack of maturity, but the cats know even less.
Q: Does neutering interfere with nature’s evolution?
A: It would seem so, to some extent, but it’s for the greater good of the cats. To not support neutering; to passively allow continual proliferation and mass-culling is to endorse even more destructive interference with nature, with the rights of the cats to live out their lives naturally. To passively allow culling is to allow others to interfere with cats’ lives in the worst way possible. Neutering is pro-life, not pro-death; as neutering is not abortion, but to prevent deaths. The truth is, humans are already interfering with nature in many other worse ways – via domestication of animals, pollution, breeding and eating of animals… We are all factors in nature; we are part of nature. Everything we do or not do affects the interdependent web of life. If we function with greater compassion and wisdom, we benefit nature on the whole.
Q: Doesn’t letting a cat be culled cause more negative karma than neutering it?
A: Yes, the negative karma and hatred created when countless cats are killed is worse than neutering some cats, which if done with right intentions, creates no negative karma at all; and only good karma. Mass killing of animals is one of the potential collective karmic causes of conflict and wars in our world – when the animals are reborn as humans in future lives, when they encounter those who killed them.
Q: It seems that humans are the main culprits of the stray cat poliferation problem?
A: Yes, humans are the major culprits in disrupting the environment. But karmically speaking for the cat issue, it’s two–way too. That is to say, the cats too created karma to face their current problems. However, we should not be passive about this – as karma is always dynamic, and we can create karma that changes the paths of our past karmic potential. The karma of the cats can change too, and each cat has different karma. Who is there to say all strays karmically deserve to be culled? No one – just like no humans would like to imagine they deserve to be killed when they over-populate.
Humans probably should had not domesticated any animals in the first place. From domestication arise problems like animal imprisonment, torture, exploitation by breeding for profit, proliferation of strays, culling… In the Bodhisattva precepts in the Brahma Net Sutra, keeping pets is generally considered not a Bodhisattva practice… unless it is the taking care of strays and the injured, who would otherwise suffer out there. But of course, if you already have domesticated pets, you should care for them for the natural span of their lives best you can.
By Joanna Hughes,15 June 2005
THE first time I saw the heavily muscled street cat with the huge, splash-shaped scar on his side, I chased him off with a horse whip.
He had turned an innocent frolic in the alley outside my house into a scene right out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Two pampered, naive house cats out for an airing went flying by the window, followed closely by 10kg of snarling tom.
The tom, though, had picked my alley as the new home for himself and his extended family – wife, son (definitely), another son (paternity in doubt) and daughter. I clutched my tender tabbies – no Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat they – but no amount of whip-waving was going to dislodge this grizzled survivor.
One rainy night, I saw the tom and No 1 Son under a small overhang. Nothing is more miserable than a cat in the rain. Pity stirred, I produced some cat biscuits and a beautiful relationship was born.
Pops, as he shortly became known, responded to food, warily at first, but then confidently enough for me to nab him and take him to be neutered.
As he lay unconscious, I got a good look at him. Imagine Morpheus from The Matrix as a cat, with scars that told a story of inhumane treatment – and survival.
‘He must be really strong to have survived the hot oil or water that scalded his side,’ the vet said.
Pops’ wife took longer to catch, long enough for her to produce two litters. But Pops turned from being the terror of the neighbourhood to a kindly cat ‘uncle’.
Propping his great bulk against the wall of a nearby restaurant, he greets all admirers. Tourists pose with him for pictures. And I would preach to any who would listen that the humane treatment of animals includes neutering them.
I have neutered more than 16 cats since 2003. They are clean, and eat and drink from bowls, and use a litter box.
In my neighbourhood, the dirtiest creatures are those with two legs, who leave stuff from soiled diapers to drink packets on the covers of rubbish bins.
Our little colony is proof that neutering cats and returning them to their environment works.
Following Sars, the Government has backed away from its support of programmes to return neutered cats to their old haunts.
The Cat Welfare Society (www.catwelfare.org) has alternatives for those who find cats a nuisance and to explain that the neutered cats you know are much better than the toms and yowling females you don’t, but it’s been an uphill slog. If a neutered cat – you can tell from the clipped ear – is captured by AVA, it will be destroyed unless it is bailed out by an ‘owner’.
Unfortunately, no-one owns these cats. In the meantime, we can give them a chance at survival. These cats may not have homes, but they have our hearts. And if you’ve ever seen their eyes, you know they are grateful.
The writer is a media consultant
|The Electric New Paper :|
|Cats are not a traffic hazard|
|SEVERAL cat carers who are involved with the community cats in Jalan Pemimpin have sent e-mail messages expressing their distress with the coverage of the traffic situation along this road (‘Cars along Jalan Pemimpin swerve dangerously to dodge cats’, The New Paper on Sunday, 20 Jul).|
|27 July 2008|
|SEVERAL cat carers who are involved with the community cats in Jalan Pemimpin have sent e-mail messages expressing their distress with the coverage of the traffic situation along this road (’Cars along Jalan Pemimpin swerve dangerously to dodge cats’, The New Paper on Sunday, 20 Jul). |
I thought the coverage of the benefits of sterilisation programmes in which cats are neutered and then returned to their community was good (however, it was negated by the ‘catch-a-cat’ programme mentioned by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority).
At any rate, no one should be going so quickly down any street that they cannot keep a proper lookout and react to whatever comes into their path.
It could be a cat or a child or an old person or someone who has tripped over something in the pathway or a bicyclist.
Cats are not a traffic hazard.
Inattentive drivers are.
And while no one can predict what they can do in any given situation, we must adopt a defensive attitude.
Don’t think ‘if’ – think ‘when’.
WHY NEUTERING IS A GOOD IDEA
Neutering a male cat is an excellent step in helping your young man grow into a loving well adapted household citizen. The main reason to neuter a male cat is to reduce the incidence of objectionable behaviors that are normal in the feline world but unacceptable in the human world.
Another reason to neuter a male cat has to do with the physical appearance. A cat neutered prior to puberty (most cats are neutered at approximately age 6 months) do not develop secondary sex characteristics. These include a more muscular body, thickenings around the face called “shields,” and spines on the penis.
Male cat neutered prior to puberty
Male cat neutered after reaching puberty
21st August 2009
Loving restaurateur dies
Family and friends paying their last respects to Mr M.K. Ramachandra at the Ananda Bhavan Restaurant in Selegie Road on Thursday. -- ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN
The Electric New Paper :
Cats are purr-fect pets, yes, even in HDB flats
By Joanna Hughes
07 March 2006
OH, no, you’re thinking: Yet another animal column from Joanna Hughes.
Please believe that I meant it when I vowed not long ago not to write another word about pets, large or small, for at least six months.
But then, someone wrote in to The New Paper asking HDB to revise their ban on cats and HDB wrote back.
And I just can’t let this one go.
‘We wish to explain 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.’
The reply was from Mrs Foo-Ho Yoke Ming, the HDB’s Deputy Director (Branch Operations).
First of all, cats are peculiarly attached to places, according to books on cat behaviour.
Cats have travelled thousands of miles to return to their homes. In my block alone, a young cat abandoned by her elderly owner when his family put him in a home still waits outside some two years later.
Cats like to be inside, if they are neutered and their needs (food, clean water and clean litter) are met. Unsterilised cats will respond to nature’s most urgent imperative, but a simple, painless and relatively inexpensive operation can take care of that.
My cats have always been house cats and I challenge anyone to show me happier, healthier cats.
As for shedding fur, surely a vacuum cleaner or a dust mop will take care of that at home. Although admittedly, they also shed fur in public places.
On that subject, the biggest shedders I have ever met after dogs are women, as anyone who has seen the sinks in a ladies’ loo can testify.
Do cats pee in lifts like humans? I had a colleague who had to pick her way daily past a pile of human faeces left on the stairs leading to her flat.
Cats at least bury their poo. I have yet to see a cat deposit a child’s used and dirty
Cats lick themselves frequently and do not smell, unlike many fellow travellers on the MRT.
Yes, a territorial cat fight can cause a few minutes of yowling, but compare that to tipsy lovers’ quarrel, an all-night mahjong game, a boisterous karaoke session or even a void deck full of possibly illegal gamblers.
Now that I think about it, maybe the biggest problems in HDB estates walk on two legs.
I don’t want to make this another Eastern vs Western values issue, but in the West, most apartments allow cats but not dogs.
Or if they do allow dogs, the owners must pay a higher security deposit. Dogs mate and squabble over territory. They shed and poo and pee, inside and out. They chew walls and tear up doors. They will howl when lonely.
And many of the more active breeds, like the small terriers, are almost impossible to confine happily in a small flat.
Why not try out a policy that allows cats in HDB flats provided the owner can provide proof of sterilisation and micro-chipping, plus a pledge to keep the cat indoors?
Or even demonstrate that he or she knows cat care basics, like the importance of a clean litter box and proper veterinary care.
A licence can cover the costs that such checks would incur. And let cat lovers enjoy the same healthy benefits of pet ownership - legally.
Brooke English, 6, finishes off her salad and peanut butter and jelly sandwich dinner at her Brandon home. An animal lover, she gave up meat two years ago.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
MY PAPER THURSDAY AUGUST 20, 2009
WE REFER to the letter, “Why cull stray cats that have been sterilised?” (my paper, Aug 14), by Miss Cheng Siew Luang.
Our town council adopts a pragmatic multi-pronged approach to the problem of strays in our estate.
A balanced approach is needed to take into account the good intentions of cat lovers as well as the genuine concerns of people who find stray cats a nuisance.
As a town council, we have a responsibility towards our residents to ensure that the environment is kept clean.
Some of the problems which residents encounter with regard to stray cats include food left behind by feeders.
This leads to pest problems and cat defecation in common areas, which dirty the environment.
We have also received complaints from residents who have a phobia of cats.
Sterilisation is a way to prevent the proliferation of strays.
The culling of sterilised strays would be avoided unless the cats create a nuisance or are found around eating places.
Public education remains an important part of our strategy for controlling the number of strays within the community.
We would like to apologise to Miss Cheng for not responding to her promptly. We have since contacted her to explain the situation and to work out an amicable arrangement.
Ms Png Chiew Hoon
Marine Parade Town Council
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Aug 20, 2009
Stop setting cruel and illegal animal traps
I AM shocked to find out that Singapore allows the public to lay illegal traps in forests to trap stray dogs and cats ('Clamp down on illegal traps' by Miss Michelle Sng, Forum Online, Tuesday).
This is such an inhumane way to trap animals and is dangerous to humans walking in the area. This is wrong and barbaric. We live in a civilised world.
Please do something about it. Please ban illegal traps.
Pauline Tan (Ms)
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
WED 19 AUGUST 2009
The Electric New Paper :
Help needed with strays
Less regulation, more assistance
20 August 2009
THIS morning, a fellow resident and caregiver of community cats called me, sounding upset about the recent discovery of a number of new cats in our precinct.
She suspected they came from families who moved away from the nearby HBD blocks of flats marked for en-bloc demolition.
I told her we would have to trap them as soon as possible for sterilisation.
I am part of the 'cat management' team in my neighbourhood, which not only traps stray cats for sterilisation but also assists the property officers in looking into complaints about cats.
Caregivers all over the island are facing the same problem - abandonment of home cats.
In our 'cat management', whenever we come across families with home cats, we will educate them on the need to be responsible, which includes sterilisation and keeping them indoors.
However, we need help as we have limited resources.
We appeal to the HDB to replace the ban on cats with regulations that include sterilisation and microchipping.
We appeal to the town councils and the residents' committees to start programmes to inculcate pet responsibilities and also to offer financial assistance to poor families that cannot afford the vet fees for neutering.
The town councils and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) can simplify the process for caregivers to claim reimbursement of sterilisation fees for community cats so that the rate of sterilisation can be expedited.
FROM READER DR TAN CHEK WEE
All citizens of democracies must account for their choices
05:55 AM Aug 19, 2009
Letter from Sanjay Perera
I REFER to "Fault lines in our Garden of Eden state" by Dr Eugene Tan (Aug 18).
Dr Tan rightly points out that in the Garden of Eden there is temptation and "in the garden were the seeds of man's fall from grace".
But perhaps we need to examine this idea a little closer. The reality is not so much that the Garden of Eden has within it the cause of its collapse, but that it is the choice of each human being that decides how things evolve.
Each of us has the capacity of free will and can decide what is right and what is wrong. Singapore is at a happy crossroads where it can take effective steps to open up and develop as a mature society.
Part of evolving into a mature society is the recognition that people are responsible for the governments they elect. They are also responsible for the societies they allow to develop in their name.
What is stopping anyone in Singapore from forming groups of communities to help themselves, help society, or improve the environment? Or from engaging the government of the day as part of a democratic process?
Any situation of disempowerment can only be resolved by people taking full responsibility for their lives and bringing ideas forward from the ground up.
We can look at a maturing state like Singapore as a Garden State, in that we have evolving ecosystems of citizenry taking responsibility for themselves and others, as well as living in a harmonious state of cooperation, tolerance and reasonableness.
The Government leaders are gardeners who tend the Garden State and give direction, nurturing and allowing space for growth and variety to breed a healthy social resilience.
Each of us is responsible for the collective consciousness of our societies. And we need to put aside our excuses and start believing that we can create the country of our dreams if we only acknowledge our own part in it.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Straits Times
Aug 18, 2009
Clamp down on illegal traps
IT WAS heart-rending for me to find yet another stray dog suffering as a result of illegal traps laid in the forested areas of Lim Chu Kang.
The sight of stray animals with their limbs torn off is too much for me to bear in silence. I hope the authorities will put a stop to these illegal traps.
It was reported in June that a stray dog had been found with its right hind leg severed by one of these traps ('Dog found with hind paw severed', June 30), and it is disappointing that yet another stray has suffered a similar fate.
Such illegal traps are also a danger to people. Will action be taken only after a human has been injured by them?
Michelle Sng (Miss)
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2) MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Minister MAH Bow Tan 31067111 firstname.lastname@example.org
RULES TO CURB PET ABANDONMENT
RECENTLY, a fellow resident of mine reported an increase in the number of stray cats in my precinct in Geylang.
She suspected that many of them were abandoned by families who had moved away from nearby flats that have been earmarked for en-bloc demolition.
While several residents and I will do our best to trap these cats as soon as possible for sterilisation, our resources are limited.
We appeal to the HDB to replace the ban on pet cats with regulations for owners that include sterilisation and microchipping of animals.
The town councils and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority can also simplify the process for reimbursing sterilisation fees, so as to expedite community efforts to control the stray-cat population.
Dr Tan Chek Wee
HDB on Cats
Cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats as they are difficult to be confined within the flats. The nuisances caused by cats such as shedding of fur, defecating/urinating in public areas, noise disturbance etc would affect the environment and neighbourliness in our housing estates. In view of this, HDB has the policy of not allowing cats to be kept in HDB flats.
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2) MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Minister MAH Bow Tan 31067111 firstname.lastname@example.org