Saturday, September 27, 2008

9,300 pets abandoned by owners

ST 27 Sep 2008

9,300 pets dumped in just 1 year
SPCA teaming up with animal welfare group to educate owners in exhibition

By Judith Tan & Liaw Wy-Cin

'BARKING too much.'

'Too hyperactive.'

'The maid is gone.'

These are some of the silliest reasons pet owners have offered for dumping their furry friends, said Ms Deirdre Moss, the executive officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) here.

But they are why 9,328 animals - cats, dogs, rabbits and hamsters - were left at the SPCA between July last year and June this year.

Of this number, more than 3,000 were dogs. And among abandoned dogs, over half were pedigreed.

To stem this flood, the SPCA gives talks at schools - from primary to tertiary - to spread the message about responsible pet ownership.

It is an attempt to tackle the problem at the source - the SPCA lacks the space and resources to care for every animal left at its premises in Mount Vernon Road.

Of the more than 3,000 dogs it received from July last year to June this year, over 2,000 had to be put down.

All licensed pet dogs are required to be micro-chipped, but the SPCA still finds 80 'lost' dogs each month with no information on them.

Barely one in 10 of all animals the society gets is adopted or claimed by owners.

Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), a non-profit organisation which rescues stray and abandoned dogs, has a no-kill policy, but it has to rely on its network of 20 to 30 dog owners to help look after them temporarily.

The ASD has close to 100 dogs at its adoption centre in Lim Chu Kang and elsewhere.

Its president Ricky Yeo, 40, said: 'Many of these dogs are abandoned when young couples move on to start a family or break up.

'Couples will fight over the house, but no one wants the dog. One was even tossed out from a moving car.'

The Cat Welfare Society, a charity run almost entirely by volunteers, said many cats are dumped on the streets when they outgrow their 'kitten cuteness'.

Said committee member Ang Li Tin: 'There are many who take stray cats home, let them roam and mate with other cats in the area, and then dump the kittens in carparks or dumpsters.

'The kittens either starve, get abused or survive on the streets, while contributing to more cats being born to live on the streets.'

Mr Goh Shih Yong, a spokesman for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, said the only long-term solution is to teach people responsible pet ownership.

Many people are willing to pay between $650 and $2,000 for Maltese puppies 'because they are cute, white and fluffy'.

But this breed ranks high in the statistics of dumped pedigree dogs - 106 went unclaimed in the first eight months of this year.

'Education is key to arresting the pet abandonment and stray animal problem in the long run,' Mr Goh said.

The message is getting through to at least some tertiary students, who have stepped forward to promote animal welfare.

People for Animal Welfare (PAW), formed in 2005 by a group at the Singapore Management University, is doing just this.

It will team up with the SPCA to mount an exhibition on the issue at the East Coast Parkway on World Animal Day on Oct 5.

There will also be a photo gallery of animals available for adoption. T-shirts and calendars will be on sale to raise funds for the society.

Ms Moss said: 'Because we take in so many animals, we are not able to find homes for all of them. Keeping a pet is a life-time commitment, and not just for the novelty.'


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