Jurong dogged by strays: Cat & dog lovers at odds

Jurong dogged by strays: Cat & dog lovers at odds

 

Feline fans say roaming dogs are a hazard to cats, while canine camp calls for compassion

 

By Lim Heng Liang

 

RESIDENTS from Lakeside to Jurong West are fighting like cats and dogs – over cats and dogs.

 

The neighbourhood is the turf of stray dogs that roam in packs of three to a dozen, usually at night.

 

Dog lovers do not mind them, but cat lovers are hoping that life can be less of a hazard for the neighbourhood felines.

 

Mrs Alice Koh, 57, a retiree who lives in Block 444 Jurong West Avenue 1, said more than 10 cats, both strays and pets, have been killed in the last three years.

 

‘The first time we found a dead cat, we knew it was the work of the dogs because of the puncture marks on the body,’ she said. ‘If the dogs started attacking people, it’d be terrible.’

 

At least one resident claims to have been attacked.

 

Madam Heryati, 47, a baker, said she was with her cat and some neighbours near her Jurong West block last September when it happened.

 

The dogs did not back off until a neighbour swung a plank at them, she added.

 

Her children, too, have become afraid of the dogs.

 

‘When they see a dog, they’ll try to find something to throw at it to make it run away,’ she said.

 

But those in the pro-dog camp say this is exactly what could be provoking the canines.

 

Ms Leona Lee, a 38-year-old manager who lives in Bukit Timah but has been helping a friend feed strays in the Jurong area for a year, said the dogs are actually afraid of people and are in hiding most of the time.

 

‘They come out only when they recognise those who feed them,’ she said, urging people to show them ‘some compassion’.

 

Another resident, who wanted to be known only as Madam Fauzih, is also unconvinced that the dogs are a problem.

 

She has been feeding them a mix of rice, sausages and eggs late at night for the last four years.

 

Her philosophy: Dogs with full stomachs do not make trouble for cats or humans.

 

Her ‘reward”: Nasty text messages from neighbours who want her to stop operating her midnight snack bar for canines.

 

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it has impounded two dogs from the area after residents complained in March.

 

Jurong residents are not the only ones griping about stray dogs, many of which have been dumped by their former owners. Bishan, Bukit Batok, Jalan Bahar, Tuas, Yishun and Woodlands also have this problem, AVA spokesman Goh Shi Yong said.

 

The AVA impounded 2,065 dogs islandwide in the last year and 397 in the last two months alone. Only five were claimed while the rest were put down.

 

Last year, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) received 3,002 dogs and put down 2,122.

 

But its executive officer, MsDeirdre Moss, said culling would not solve the problem. The real solution, she said, is to sterilise the animals to stop more dogs being born.

 

To this end, the SPCA gives out vouchers which the public can use to get strays sterilised at participating veterinary clinics, she said.

 

But Mr Ricky Yeo, who heads Action For Singapore Dogs, pointed out that neutering makes dogs more passive, so these are the ones more likely to be rounded up by the AVA, leaving the unsterilised ones out there – still multiplying.

 

The real solution is to teach people to be responsible pet owners because abandonment is the root of the problem, said the AVA’s Mr Goh.

 

‘Education is key to arresting the pet abandonment and stray animal problem in the long term,’ he said.

 

Source: Straits Times

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