Animal shelters get home in Sungei Tengah
Government allocates space for animal shelters, will build facilities
There has been much uncertainty over the fate of animal shelters in Loyang and Seletar after the Government gave notice that they would have to move out by the end of next year.
So there was a great sense of relief from animal shelter owners, volunteers and animal lovers yesterday when the Government announced that it was taking the animal welfare groups' concerns into consideration.
To help the shelters, it is allocating land and will be building the facilities so that the animal welfare groups can just rent and not have to buy the land, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a press release yesterday.
Four affected animal welfare groups based in Loyang and Seletar told The New Paper that they were relieved by AVA's decision.
Voices For Animals president Derrick Tan said he went into a "panic attack" mode after learning about the earlier move, but he is very happy now.
"Now that we are assured that we will definitely get a space at the new Sungei Tengah area, we feel at ease," he said.
Senior Minister of State Desmond Lee and AVA met the animal welfare groups last Monday to inform them of the plans for the new site and to hear their opinions.
The new facilities will have two storeys.
Mr Tan told TNP that the space given by the authorities will depend on the number of animals.
RELIEVED: Voices For Animals president Derrick Tan is happy the Government has came up with a viable solution for housing the animals. TNP FILE PHOTO
"I'm hoping to request to take both storeys of one of the buildings," he said.
"I have about 100 dogs, so I think having both storeys would be pretty comfortable for the number of dogs I have right now."
SOSD president Siew Tuck Wah said he was caught by surprise.
"For the Government to be building this shelter space so that all of us can be spared from finding and building on a new land is unprecedented," he said.
"It is really a better outcome than we could have imagined."
GLAD: Dr Siew Tuck Wah, president of Save Our Street Dogs, is surprised that the Government has come up with a solution. TNP FILE PHOTO
But, elated as they may be, there were some concerns about space raised by Animal Lovers' League (ALL) co-founder Cathy Strong and Causes For Animals Singapore (CAS) co-founder Christine Tan.
Ms Strong, whose organisation houses about 400 dogs and over 200 cats, said: "I'm afraid the dogs won't have a space to run around in the future, since they didn't really specify.
"Most of my dogs are quite huge, so we are still working on a solution with the authorities."
Mrs Tan told TNP that although the new area in Sungei Tengah will be cheaper than what CAS is now paying at Seletar for the space of about five four-room HDB flats, the new place will also be much smaller.
"CAS dogs now have the courtyard space to roam on a rotational basis for a few hours a day," she said.
"But I'm not sure if they can do that at the new place since it's mentioned that the dog runs they are building will be shared."
When asked what were some of the ideas discussed during the meeting, Mrs Tan said: "We explored the possibility of having a common adoption space and education facilities for the public."
Animal lovers were also rejoicing online when they heard the news.
Facebook user Sharon GJ Ong posted on SOSD's Facebook page: "Of all the many beautiful days I have enjoyed so far in 2016, today is extra beautiful."
Facilities will house 7,000 animals
The Government will be building and leasing out two-storey animal shelter facilities at Sungei Tengah Road and opposite Farmart, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said yesterday in response to The New Paper's queries.
The development will help cover nine animal welfare groups, 29 pet farms and several independent shelters in Loyang and Seletar that now collectively house about 6,000 to 7,000 animals.
The AVA said the Government understood that it may be challenging for animal welfare groups and pet farms to raise enough money to tender for land and build their own facilities, so the move will help ease their cashflow as they will not need large upfront capital.
The land area of the facilities will be about 3ha and construction will begin early next year, the AVA said.
It estimates that monthly rent will be about $13 per sq m.
The final cost will depend on the design and the contractor's tender prices.
Pet farms will have to tender for the units and their rental will be based on their tender bids.
The priority is to house the existing animals in Loyang and Seletar.
The AVA will consider leasing out to other animal welfare groups and pet farms in other areas in future if there is sufficient space.
It is seeking the views of the groups and pet farms on the design specifications, and will continue to keep them in the loop.