I refer to the previous week’s Talking Point topic, “Pet Peeves” and agree that society needs to be more tolerant, compassionate and responsible in ensuring the welfare of pets and community animals. I disagree that community animals pose a public safety concern as it is our actions that will either help them or create more issues for them.
Majority of these community animals want to be left alone and they seek human companionship and love from caregivers that feed and care for them. It is the sole responsibility of caregivers to maintain proper hygiene practices when feeding these community animals to set a good example for others to follow and to maintain public cleanliness.
Also, to maintain a small and manageable population of community animals, sterilisation is the only option in preventing unwanted litters and the majority of such animals should be entitled to low cost mass sterilisation schemes that are funded by the government. This would help in managing Singapore’s community animal population and to show that sterilisation is effective and the most humane method available in avoiding over-population which becomes another issue.
Animal welfare organisations need to continue their good work of stepping up sterilisation efforts especially in industrial areas to facilitate sterilisation and re-homing efforts and projects. It is a societal and community effort in changing people’s mindset and showing an example for our younger generation to respect and care for the community animals in our midst by fostering kindness and compassion.
Furthermore, the various ministers that are involved in animal welfare and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) need to be the forerunners in creating awareness and educating the public about being compassionate and tolerant with these animals that are sharing community places. They need to be advocators and work hand in hand with the animal welfare organisations as these organisations cannot do it alone. With the assistance from the many animal welfare organisations in Singapore, more can be done in nipping residential complaints in the bud and finding an amicable solution where it is a win-win situation for everyone.
It is important that through such mutual efforts of the public and pet owners, being responsible and maintaining a working relationship will allow the Housing Development Board (HDB) to lift their existing rules in allowing owners to keep animals of larger breeds through a trial program. Thus, the success of the lifting of such regulations largely depends on owners and animal welfare organisations to work hand in hand in making such programs a long-term benefit for shelter animals and that such programs can be implemented in areas around Singapore as well.
Community animals lead unpredictable lives as they do not have permanent homes and that they have to fight for survival. It is essential for society to view this aspect and to just help them or leave them alone. I urge society to be more open and tolerant in respecting and accepting these animals.
Mediation and continued dialogue with residents who might face animal-related issues should be looked into but not at the extent of affecting the lives of these animals. It is a timely reminder for society to work together in looking at the problem and not to fight among ourselves. For society to move forward, change does not occur overnight, it takes continuous efforts and planning to create a society that accepts community animals and that common areas can be shared with them. Indeed, everyone has a part to play in terms of animal welfare so that changes can be implemented for the welfare of the animals.
By Darren Chan Keng Leong
By Darren Chan Keng Leong
Abstracted from TR Emeritus, The Voice of Singaporeans for Singapore