News

Residents chase dogs back into forest

About 10 Buangkok residents got into a heated confrontation with dog catchers hired by the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) last Saturday.

This was not the first time the AVA was there so the residents were well-prepared. They brought whistles and party horns to chase the dogs back into the forest so that they would not be caught, reported Chinese paper Shin Min Daily News.

Mr Ng Ah Pik, 68, who would drive from his home in Serangoon to Buangkok to feed the dogs every day, was there on Saturday night.

The lorry driver and former Buangkok resident said in Mandarin: "They had already taken one away in a cage and we were scared that they would take more away.

"We were very angry and we made noise to make sure the dogs went back to hide."

Madam Helen Tan, 53, added: "I hit the (construction site) barricades until my hands were swollen so that the dogs would run away. Some of the dog catchers tried to stop me from doing that."

When The New Paper was at Buangkok Link on Tuesday evening, Madam Tan and some residents were trying to chase several dogs back into the forest.

They were worried the dogs would get caught after receiving a tip-off that dog catchers were in the area.

They threw stones, shouted and chased the dogs across the road, sometimes without checking if there was oncoming traffic.

Two residents also removed food from a trap that they believed had been set by AVA officers.

An AVA spokesman said: "While we understand the public's concern for the animals, we would like to advise them not to hinder our trapping operations.

"Obstruction of public duties is an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 12 months."

Action for Singapore Dogs president Ricky Yeo said that a "blanket sweep" operation would inevitably draw displeasure from animal lovers.

"We would usually ask our registered dog feeders to ask for identification, but often these trappers get hostile and refuse," he said.

CULLING?

Mr Yeo, who has been involved in dog rescue for the past 15 years, said his group has been pushing for a trap-neuter-and-release solution instead of culling.

He said the former has been successful in Hong Kong and San Francisco.

"Currently, AVA traps the dog and we will bail them out to temporary shelters or fosterers. There is never enough space in shelters, but if we don't take them out, they will be culled."

Ms Joanne Ng, CEO of the Cat Welfare Society, thinks that mediation with the authorities and education is crucial.

For the CWS, efforts in mediation have been crucial in reducing the number of cat cullings.

The AVA euthanised about 1,000 strays last year, a huge drop from 3,300 in 2008 and 13,000 in 2001.