February 29, 2008

Singapore runs on 'free market system'

1,521 pedigree dogs dumped

28 February 2008
Straits Times

SINGAPOREANS are dumping their pedigree dogs, once prized for their rarity, at an 'alarming' rate, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
More than half of the 3,002 unwanted dogs the society took in last year, or 1,521 animals, were purebreds.
According to the society's executive officer Deirdre Moss, purebreds made up a quarter of the unwanted dog population in the 1980s and grew to almost one-third in the 1990s.
The increase comes as more owners import pedigrees from outside the country.
Leading the pack of breeds that showed up at the society last year were golden retrievers and Jack Russell terriers.
The pedigree dogs the SPCA sees now are younger than before, with most being one to four years old, she said.
Not having the time to look after their pet was the most common reason owners cited for surrendering the animals, the SPCA said.
To curb the the increasing numbers of pedigree dogs being imported, bred and sold here, the SPCA had suggested that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) restrict their supply.
But the AVA, in a response to the society, said it 'would not be appropriate' to restrict the number and type of dogs.
'We understand the SPCA's concerns but would like to reiterate that Singapore operates on a free market system,' said AVA's head of the centre for animal welfare and control, Mr Madhavan Kannan.
The SPCA warns against impulse pet purchases and urges potential pet owners to carefully consider the implications of dog ownership.

Source: The Straits' Times, Thursday, Feb 28, 2008, H9 Home (accessed from Factiva)

"Singapore operates on a free market system" -- I find this statement extremely problematic and come to terms with. It means that all the while that Singapore, or the Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, has existed, the animal welfare business has been run on a 'free market system'; it lacks a good measure of ethnical considerations for the very welfare of the 'products', that your selling, buying, production, reproduction, transport, import and export, transfer of your animals, deny that your products are sentient, living beings.

Where abandonment numbers are so glaring, we cannot simply stick to 'Singapore running on a free market system'. This will apply if and only if the situation is ideal, i.e., every owner/petshop/breedining farm is responsible for his/her animal(s).

And if this is indeed your stand, then, please remove the word 'Welfare' from this title. There is no form of desired welfare, only 'control'.

February 26, 2008

South Africa to resume elephant culling after 13 years

AFP - Tuesday, February 26
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - - South Africa is to resume elephant culling for the first time in 13 years, lifting a moratorium on the practice to bring ballooning populations under control, the government said on Monday.
After months of emotive public debate over government plans to reduce elephant numbers, Environment Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk announced culling would be an option from May 1, but only as a last resort.
"Our department has recognised the need to maintain culling as a management option, but has taken steps to ensure that this will be the option of last resort that is acceptable only under strict conditions," the minister said in a statement.
Since domestic and international pressure led the government to introduce a moratorium on culling in 1995, the number of elephants rose from about 8,000 to 18,000, saddling many game parks with unsustainable populations.
"The issue of population management has been devilishly complex and we would like to think that we have come up with a framework that is acceptable to the majority of South Africans," said Van Schalkwyk.
His spokesman, Riaan Aucamp, could not put a number on the elephants to be killed.
"There is no estimation. Everything will depend on the management plan of each park," he told AFP.
The World Wildlife Fund's Rob Little said elephants had no natural predators after the age of 15, and with populations growing at six percent a year they become a hazard to their habitat.
"We are not pleased with the thought of culling elephant, but we do recognise it as a management tool," he told AFP.
"Historically they would have vast areas to migrate and move in, whereas today we confine them by artificial boundaries. We call elephants habitat engineers, because they consume such vast amounts of vegetation that they have the potential to change the landscape."
Announcing norms and standards for elephant management, the minister said contraception and translocation would continue to be the preferred population control measures.
Culling may be undertaken only when recommended by an elephant management specialist, and on approval by authorities.
"It was to be expected that strong emotions would be part of this debate. There are few other creatures on earth that have the ability of elephants to 'connect' with humans in a very special way," said van Schalkwyk.
Added Little: "We all love our elephants, they are the most charismatic icon of Africa. But we don't have the luxury to allow one species to dominate and alter the composition of our natural assets."
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which opposes culling, said legislation should be strict enough to ensure it is truly done only as a last resort.
"In no way do we condone culling as an option, if it is to be then it really must be with only the most careful management," said Christina Pretorius of IFAW Southern Africa.
Most of southern Africa is struggling to contain elephant numbers, with some 300,000 individuals estimated to roam the region today, according to Pretorius.
"In all likelihood a few of our neighbouring elephant range states are watching South Africa to get guidance," added Little.
Van Schalkwyk also announced a prohibition from May 1 on the capture of wild elephants for use in commercial exhibition, such as circuses.
This was welcomed by IFAW, with Pretorius saying: "Elephant back safaris in particular, it's an industry out of control".

Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080226/tts-safrica-environment-elephants-cullin-c1b2fc3.html

The exchanges between environmental authorities and not-for-profit organisations prove that it's almost always a contention on the ethical, humane handling of animal lives -- helping wild elephants avert death. "Contraception" and "translocation" sound synonymous with our terms of "sterilisation" and "rehoming" respectively -- again, redistributing the populations of a species in question to some places else.

In the vast expanses of (South) Africa's elephants' ranges, how happens to the carcasses of freshly culled elephants? Will bodies be properly disposed of, or will cullers capitalize on exisitng tusks, flesh and skin, using them for commercial trade - thereby perpetuating the vicious cycle of the demands and supplies of wildlife trade? Just a thought.

Later, I'll be sharing with you about elephants again.

February 25, 2008

Our Litte Boy is the survivor

of the three or four in the litter. He escaped the death fate of his other siblings, that were all abandoned by their mother, who wasn't, I reckon, quite ready to tend to her newborns. A worker on the farm told us mummy dog literally dropped one infant puppy into the pond, leaving it to drown, while the rest gradually disappeared, apparently chucked somewhere by their mum. Yes, strange as it seems, one female dog we have here lacks motherly instincts -- all part and parcel of the animal kingdom.

We briefly cruised by the farm today. Our Little Boy awoke from a languid late morning snooze and pranced and galloped around, as he caught sight of V's car entering; his stubby little legs and his tail flicking enthusiastically. His tiny mouth opening into a lazy yawn. He's grown a tad since the last I saw him.

Little Boy represents just another figure to the increasing stray dogs' number, another member borned into the communities, with equal potential to naturally mate, reproduce and contribute to the proliferation of strays (if left uncontrolled). V and I drove away from the farm, after a random discussion, that perhaps it's best to surrender him to the SPCA, where he might be put to sleep. I told V that I'd never have the courage to do this, relegating the 'bad guy's' job to the caregiver who faces constant flux of dilemmas everyday she tends to and sees her dogs. Spontaneous decision, but it was a tough one.

Images of our Little Boy carried me through the day, so on a random impulse, I phoned V again to walk through our buoyant decision to deal with the life of Little Boy, to once again play god and ordain the continuance or the snuffing out of his dear life. It's a notion that bothers me and for some time in the afternoon it bothered me much. Both of us, I guess, in our accumulated exasperations derived from the challenges of the animal welfare world, decided to 'include' Little Boy in our inexhaustible list of animals to save/rescue.

Yes, in probably a couple of months' time, we will take him for early-age neutering (accompanied with vaccination), before he becomes subsumed into the human-wariness that will be gradually imparted from the likes of Scruffy to the young ones. As soon as it's safe to his health to sterilize our Little Boy, we will nab him from the streets for a while to go under the knife, so that he won't become the undesired contributor to a burgeoning stray pack. And we will put a collar on him in our bid to distinguish him as an 'owned' dog to possible cullers, increasing his legtimacy as an animal with the right to live on the landscape.

Sterilisation will take place in good time, if you want to be part of the support process of Little Boy's attempt to stake his rightful claim as an inhabitant of the living space of the farm, do email us at projectjkteam@yahoo.com.sg
Be it a good home, monetary support, suggestions/ideas, or even a little collar for him...

Our newcomer, Little Boy, is still very tiny

I believe this black dog showing some affection to Little Boy is his mum who might have selected him as the sole survivor of her litter, compared to his other siblings

Mouth wide-open, Scruffy could be surprised, nonetheless happy that V was early in her daily visit

You can see two tiny puppies curled at the side of the overturned pot. The lighter coloured one is Little Boy. This is taken a few weeks ago, when his other sibling was still around; they were quite well hidden in a remote spot under some canvas

Interesting email correspondence

with P, who called me to express her interest in adopting Mama Rock, do share with us your thoughts (most recent email at the top):

Project JK
I beg to differ that 'talking more, asking more' to understand the potential adopter is sufficient, because, how am I to guarantee that a potential adopter will not abandon the adopted dog a few years, or even a year down the road, in spite of pre-adoption verbal promises rendered by the potential adopter?

To be honest, we do not personally know those who come forth and express interest that they'd like to adopt so-and-so a dog, unless they're recommended by someone else, or is a friend we personally know.

Animals, domestic or street, are life, sentient beings and need to be treated humanely. We cannot 'operate' an adoption like a business case, or simply cast our faith to the potential adopter, whom we feel merely instinctively is the right owner. Good instincts need to be accompanied with some form of evidence that the dog is well taken care of, hence the imperative of house visits. That's the best we can do, the rest we'll leave it to between the family and the dog.

I'm glad that you're considering adoption instead of purchase - undeniably it's a good deed, as you claimed. Adopting Mama Rock out will not significantly alleviate any financial concern -- we're just doing this because we feel Mama Rock makes a good home pet.

FYI, none of us are full-time volunteers, but full-time professionals/students who are sparing some time, within our means, to help in the humane treatment of animals; that said, this is in no way any form of organisation.

Thanks for sharing your views again, as it serves to further reinforce my view that house visits are even more imperative. Best.

A friend of mine had recently adopted a dog from SPCA. Although they did verbally ask if the adopter minds them visiting, but If the answer is no, they do not outright reject the adopter.
Sometimes understanding the potential adopter, talking more, asking more, should be adequate. We are all here to help the animals by going to organizations like yours.
But if there are sufficient funds to keep your cause going, and continue to keep the dogs through their lifetime, then I guess its ok.


Project JK
No worries, you're entitled to your preferences and views -- I respect them. But having met many a adopter who promised a verbal lifetime of 'guarantees' and later either abandoned the dogs, or surrendered them, post-adoption visits are strictly necessary.

In fact, this is the norm for the bulk of shelter dog adoptions, for eg. SPCA, which stipulates a one week, one month, so and so forth house visits. Thanks for being frank with your stand, I'm glad we at least communicated this clearly.

All the best in your looking for a lifelong companion for your family -- should you need any help in dog welfare matters, I'll be glad to assist you.

Thanks for the email.
I do understand your position, and the need to ensure she goes to an appropriate home. I am fully aware, and sometimes disgusted, at how people treat their pets nowadays, especially as Singaporeans get more affluent and have money to spare. Not knowing or unaware of the commitment that is required for the well being of an animal (be it a dog, hamster, cat, bird) for its lifetime. I even have a neighbour that once told me that she left the gate open for her shih tsu to walk out as it was no longer a puppy and not cute anymore.

Both my husband and I grew up with dogs in the family. He even used to show dogs when he was in his 20s. We are both commited and experienced people, who find dogs intigral to our lives, and make them part of our lives. We do not even go on holidays together because of the dogs.

However after discussions with my husband on your requirement of viewing the adopted dog after it being adopted, We feel that it is a little too much to ask. Iam fully aware that you do this for the good of your adoptees but we feel that it is a bit too much in prying into our private lives. I am even agreeable to have my dog meet yours. And am able to answer any of your questions, how many they may be, some of which we talked about yesterday. You are free to ask me more questions but we are just not comfortable with such visits.
If this is your criteria, then I would like to politely decline.

kind regards

Project JK
Hello P, thanks for calling to discuss about pending adoption of Mama Rock. If you're keen to take in her son as well, we'll need to speak with the farmer and also take account a multitude of other considerations, including, if your current female GSD will be ok with both (new) dogs.

Adoption of Mama Rock and/or son is going to be lifelong commitment; as their owners, your family will be their pillars of reliance for the next 10plus years of their life span, hence a serious consideration, definitely.

Also, in light that Mama Rock was badly treated in the previous home, we want this to be her permanent home, if it works out. Take your time to sort this out, we're in no haste to adopt her out, esp. since I've been in this 'business' for some time and witnessed, even experienced cases of outright abandonment.

I didn't mention to you just now that an adoption agreement form will be signed - this also includes an adoption fee which serves as commitment to Mama Rock's lifelong welfare. All donations will be given to the continuing of straywork - animal welfare efforts.

I hope you'll understand that if this indeed works out, I'll be dropping by your home to see how Mama Rock is faring. Don't wish to be in any way imposing on your private life, but just doing it out of concern for Mama Rock's long-term welfare.

Hear from you.


Would be keen to adopt the female rottweiler and her pup.
Kindly contact me at 98******

thank you

February 24, 2008

Mama Rock - looking for her last permanent home

We're in no haste, really, to adopt Mama Rock out, after what she's been through and perhaps, for the bulk of it, the experiences we have gone through in adoption/rehoming. H, a fellow caregiver, who juggles between tending to street dogs of industrial estates and a full-time profession, finds it hard to put her faith in adoption.

Adoption is a tricky business. From assessing the characters of all family members to recce-ing the potential home environment, we cannot help but be strict about and doubt what adoptive owners can offer to our dog in question, and what that will unfold in the 10plus years the family is expected to commit to the dog.

Normally, we will go through the conventional procedures of adoption publicity: putting up posters/notices at bulletins of petshops, clinics or even supermarkets, mass snail-mailing adoption leaflets, email-blasting, so on and so forth. But this time, we're in no haste in adopt Mama Rock out, toning down all adoption efforts.

A lady just rang to ask about Mama Rock; spoke with her at quite some length so we'll see how it turns out. Again, I remind myself that I'm in no haste to rehome Mama Rock. As far as we know, our Rottweiler-cross seems to be very happy at the farm. Best of all, she gets to play it rough -- farm-dog style -- with her son. It's a joy to hear about it, more so to see animals, unrestricted and unhindered, roaming free in the wild; natural expression of dogs who are intrinsically 'wild' at heart. Carefree-ness is the picture.

Mama Rock's next home shall be her permanent home. We'll be taking her to the vet tomorrow to review her heartworm condition. Hopefully, the worms are killed and none are clogging her blood vessels with the help of aspirins.

Email us at projectjkteam@yahoo.com.sg for copy of the poster to spread the word on Mama Rock's adoption appeal, if you'd like (for some strange reason, the jpeg file doesn't appear properly here). Gentle-nature, strong motherly instincts, Rottweiler-cross, about 5 years old. Our Mama Rock may be a little wild at heart, but she demonstrates motherly love to little puppies (even kittens!), kindness that prove dogs are sentient beings, with feelings, sentiments and memory.

Adopt Mama Rock, but adopt her with a heart.

February 16, 2008

Further to media reports on the death

of dogs' carcasses found in Clementi (MyPaper Feb 15, 2008)... the following pictures remind me of Doby's sister, the young female that eluded human contact and who was missed by V, our caregiver, for a good few weeks before her body -- shockingly reduced to bones -- were found.

At the spot where she usually ate.

Very, very sorry. I feel so sorry for the needless (and unexplainable) deaths of these street dogs. In their harmless, unaccounted existence in the city, what good have we given these animals who yearn to seek just a quiet unnoticed chance of survival, except our intentions to snuff them out of our shared public spaces?

The images are shocking, but they are the truths happening out there. I choose to post them here, because I don't think I should deny the public from knowing the brutality of it all. I'm not exactly for ghastly images in my bid to educate anyone on animal welfare, but if it takes powerful images for members of the public to know that this could be the result of intolerance of dogs within our residential/industrial communities; this is the result of single-minded complainants; this is the consequence right before our very eyes.

Before the eyes of caregivers who had invested to sterilise, rescue and rehome Shelley, Shiloh and the pack. I can relate to the sentiments when Doby's sister died, when Busuk died, when dogs disappeared from my sight, from this earth... dogs whom I crossed paths with.

By what measures do we allow these street animals into our living spaces?

Our belief in education does not just root within ourselves; we are capable of ACTING on it. Mediate tensions between complainants and caregivers. Stop a child from shooing a community cat at the void deck - tell him it's wrong. Show in all ways that animal lives should be respected.

February 12, 2008

The week begins with

renewed strength to live through the week, to embrace moments of the day with hope and faith.

I think of V plying the streets all on her own, feeding the dogs, hurling bags of brown rice meshed with meat and bread pieces for wary ones. She's been telling me she doesn't want to call me and disturb me.

"The animal world is wicked," she laments.

Watching, observing... probably thinking to herself how long can she do this before she calls it quits, before her health gives way.

No matter what, it's good to take things in optimism. I tell myself to look on the bright side of things, psych myself to do it. Yes I can do it.

I want to continue contributing to animal welfare for as long as I live.

The changes do not take place overnight, but I know deep in my heart that whatever I do is for a good cause; it's for something I truly, truly believe in. Passionately.

February 9, 2008


Land of the long white cloud.

JT, since you shared with me this word, it seems to keep coming back to me. So, aotearoa it shall be. To keep in touch with all at home. Will share as and when I can.

Stay well !


February 8, 2008

For a very long time,

it has been bugging my mind. Unfortch, I never got down to doing it, but each time I walked past the pickup, I would peer into it to check if the dog was in it. When he was, I would press my fist against the metal grilles and he would lick my knuckles, exuding friendliness that transcends beyond species.

Yes, the idea of our friendly on-campus mongrel, lying at the back of the pickup, in the midst of cardboxes and planks, in the heat of Singaporean afternoons, could prick many a conscience, but judging from the looks of our daytime resident mongrel -- healthy and robust -- and the fact I'd seen his owner take him out for a pee on the grass patch, gives me other reconsiderations.

I have interacted with many 'ground-level' owners: from factory janitors to canteen vendors to security guards, these folks ply the 'lowest grounds' of Singapore, and are the ones in constant contact with our stray dogs, together with our caregivers.

It could be seemingly 'cruel' to contain your pet dog in a vehicle during the day when you work, but my experiences in the animal welfare world has taught me to think more: that the owner could've adopted/rescued/taken him in out of kind intentions; owner might be struggling with finances himself to keep his pet; he can't afford proper daycare/dog-walking services to tend to his dog while he works during the day; he, like many others, is struggling with the stringent dog-unfriendly HDB laws... all seem possible.

We wouldn't want to end up confronting the owner -- all too righteous-sounding -- and compel the guy to abandon his mongrel altogether, as an easy means to avoid all troubles. After all, our mongrel here is healthy, and pet treatment, in this case, is decent. If the owner can sustain such decent treatment in the long run, why not give him a chance?

In my correspondence with the on-campus student animal welfare body, I found another piece of good news: a fellow animal-welfare counterpart is now in a higher authority to exercise better animal welfare duties. His team will investigate. Animal welfare is first priority.

Let's see how this goes. I wouldn't want to see this friendly mongrel a victim of abandonment.

February 6, 2008

HAPPY CNY to all !!

The festive season can us pretty hurried and flustered over very small issues if we're not conscious of our actions and reactions. Let us all slow down our pace. Slow down our changeable moods.

Remember that opportunities to fellowship with family and friends are moments to be cherished.

It's not about the food. Not how well your springcleaning is. Not the spanky new clothes.

It's a reunion. Re-union. It's the people who matter.

So, enjoy!

February 4, 2008

Remembering Hong Kong Dog Rescue

one of my maiden trips to shelters overseas. I realised that we are all not that different.

Whether it's HK, Singapore, KL or U.S, dog shelters face similar problems and struggles, and are at the same time, filled with jolly, rollicking, jumpy dogs. Lovely creatures, connection to nature, in an urban built environment.

It was a personal privilege to have visited it.

HK Dog Rescue is located on one of the most prime properties of the S.A.R. If you know the city, you'd be wondering how anyone is able to sustain the shelter with sky-high rent fees.

The shelter is also in close proximity to the highway.

Doesn't this remind you of shelters in Singapore, too?

Mama Rock back at farm

Yesterday we received a call from the petshop where Mama Rock boarded that she needed to be removed asap. Out of fury, out of paranoia, out of other motivations - we're not sure. But it was conveyed to us that the residents who live upstairs complained about her barking.

Mama Rock seldom barks, if at all.

The message was clear: Mama Rock to be out of the shop asap.

But we moved her out anyway and back to the farm where she reunited with her son. The familiar smell of wilderness, her sight of her home.

On a brighter note, Mama Rock is fine and well on the journey of recovery. When she saw me, she was jumping around in joy, nibbling a litte of the bacon treat I gave and propping herself with her fores on the fence of the pen. She showed every sign of a dog in good recovery.

Many thanks also to M who was quick to finance Mama Rock and tide us over this part of her recovery (M, you made the difference, truly). Mama Rock has got to be one influential dog, her warm nature rubs off on all of us.

Heartworm is fatal; Mama Rock has opened her heart to our human intervention and I'm sure she will, to a family who can take her in permanently with unconditional love. Fingers crossed for Mama Rock. We're still on the lookout.

I apologise for my otherwise interruptive background voice. Couldn't really contain the excitement of seeing a jolly Mama Rock, prancing with the joy of life.

February 1, 2008

Carmen has been found!! :)

From ASD:

Carmen has just been found ! Many thanks to a sharp eyed lady who saw the poster and noticed her at a construction site at One Raffles Quay on her way to work. The security guard there had been kind enough to hold onto her for the past 2 days at his post but she did not want to eat during all this time :( She must have been very depressed cos she is usually very greedy.
She is now back at the ARC under observation and we will fatten her up again :)

Our utmost thanks to all of you who helped us with information, prayers and lots of legwork. We know some of you spent your lunch hours looking for her the past few days and there were some who were looking for her yesterday past midnight and today as well, covering areas up to Fort Canning, all with the focused hope of finding her alive and well. After all the suffering she's been through, we are sure no one had the intention of letting her suffer again.

So, thank you very much again everyone, we are very happy and proud to have such a cohesive and caring community of dog lovers, and we are sure everyone will sleep easy tonight!!

Update on Carmen

"Hi everyone

There was a caller this afternoon that said she recognized Carmen from posters and that she was around the HSBC building and Fullerton Hotel vicinity. If anyone is around the area, and spots her, please call Yvonne immediately at 98801137. Please keep her in sight if possible

Thank you very much for your help.

Ricky Yeo

Today is my

last day at work and I now step fully into the final stage of preparation for my move to New Zealand Massey University to fulfil my heart's calling to be a Vet.

Counting down now as I'll fly off on 9 Feb.

Thank you all so much for your strong support, belief & encouragement in Project JK. Let us all persevere on, each in our own ways, to better the situation for our animals and the people around us. To show kindness -- one animal, one person at a time. Kindness has an impact more far-reaching than we may imagine. It can literally change the world.

Will keep u all posted via a blog which I'll start on my days in NZ. Will miss home and all for a season but I will be back as there is work here to be done!

During this period, should you require any help, you can continue to email projectjkteam@yahoo.com.sg. The team, with my counterpart, KZ, will continue to do our best to help whenever we can.

My heartfelt gratitude once again for your big heart which has led us into miracles upon miracles. Thank you ever so much. It has been a wonderful journey.