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HRSS In The News

Pets Dumped. Over 1,000 a Month Abandoned in S'pore
The New Paper, 22 Feb 2003

By Anne Seah

MORE than 1,000 pets abandoned in one month.

That works out to 30 domesticated animals left to survive on their own every day.

According to Ms Deirdre Moss, executive officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the society took in 1,099 unwanted animals last month.

Among them were 287 dogs, 549 cats and 44 other animals such as birds, chicks, tortoises, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs. Plus, 82 hamsters and 137 unwanted rabbits - an all-time high.

Though unaware of the pet abandonment problem at Farmart Centre, Ms Moss felt that abandoning a pet is an act of utmost cruelty.

She pointed out that abandoned pets face many unpleasant possibilities.

Out alone, they might be abused.

Run over by a vehicle.

Or simply starve to death.

Pet owners who can no longer take care of their pets should try to find new homes for them, says Ms Moss.

'I would like to ask pet owners to be responsible and put themselves into their pets' positions, instead of putting their pets out there to suffer alone,' she said.

Animal lover Constance Ho is also outraged by the increasing number of abandoned animals.

The 28-year-old senior designer, who owns six rabbits and two hamsters, said pets demand very little from their owners - only attention and a safe place to live out their lives.

She said: 'If people cannot have the decency to be responsible for what they invited to their homes, whatever excuses they give for dumping them are not justified. Ultimately, they're just irresponsible.'


There might be yet another reason behind pet abandonment - a surplus of pets on sale.

Ms Moss is not the only animal lover who thinks so.

Miss Donna Tang, 23, a magazine journalist, feels pet shops should stop pushing sales of animals.

The owner of three dogs said: 'Getting a pet is not like making any other purchase. It has a life and you're forever responsible for it. You should take time to think about it.

'The pet shops should also give prospective buyers the time and not push their sale,' she said.

She has come across pet shops that keep throwing in incentives like additional pet food and accessories in a desperate bid to get customers to buy.

She called for education by pet shops at the point of the sale. 'It would certainly help to deal with the problem of pet abandonment,' she pointed out.

S'pore's other abandoned 'babies'
Pet owners sneak into Chua Chu Kang animal corner late at night to dump kittens, rabbits

PET animals left to fend for themselves at Farmart Centre in Chua Chu Kang.

They are Singapore's other abandoned babies.

And the modus operandi of those who dump them is just as disgusting.

They come at the dead of night to the centre's animal corner and leave the unwanted pets to be picked up by the centre's staff members the next morning.

Then there are those who come on the pretext of a visit with their pets and go back home alone. The pets are found roaming around the centre's compound.

There were even those who came with carton boxes and cages tagged with notes asking finders to take good care of the animals.

Yes, pet owners have been sneaking into the 2 1/2ha Sungei Tengah compound, located on the outskirts of Chua Chu Kang, to abandon the pets they no longer want.

And Farmart is upset that it has been getting more than its usual number of visitors - at odd hours.

According to Farmart's business development manager. Mr David Ong, 38, pet dumping in the centre's compound began in the middle of last year.

So far, most of these abandoned pets have been taken in by Miss Pauline Chin and Miss Julie Ong who maintain the animal corner where animals are showcased for the public.

They also own the pet shop called E Pet Stop at Farmart Centre.

Since the opening of their pet shop eight months ago, the two women have been taking in an average of five rabbits and 30 hamsters each month.

And they get at least five kittens left behind every two months.


Miss Chin also noted that two weeks before Chinese New Year, rabbit abandonment cases, which pose the biggest problem, increased to 11.

And it is not just your common breeds of animals that have been abandoned.

The women have in their care a pedigree breed of rabbit known as a mini-lop.

They found it wandering around the centre's carpark on National Day last year.

According to them, a rabbit of this breed would be sold for at least $300 in pet shops.

What is more worrying for them, though, is that sick rabbits have also been dumped into the rabbit enclosure at Farmart's animal corner.

Said Miss Chin, 47: 'The sick rabbits with communicable diseases such as mange are just thrown in with the rest of our rabbits in the middle of the night.

'By the time we get there in the morning, some of our healthy rabbits already show symptoms of the disease too.'

Whenever this happens, the two pet shop owners have no choice but to dip into their own pockets to pay for the rabbits' treatment fee by the vet's.

And even when the animals dumped don't have communicable diseases, they would usually be thin and weak.

Miss Chin said: 'They were just so pitiful. We felt sad when we looked at them. That's why we took them in on our own expense.'

Besides pets abandoned in the centre's compound, the two women have had pet owners turning up at their doorstep to give up their pets to E Pet Stop.

The most common reasons cited by the pet owners are lack of time, work commitments, children and pets not getting along, and the inability to cope with pets who breed and increase in numbers.

Despite the lack of space and funds, the two women take in the unwanted pets as long as they are healthy.

Said Miss Ong, 26: 'How could we turn them away? If we did, they might have been set free to roam. Then their lives would have been in danger.' The abandon pets are put up for adoption. The donation of an adoption fee is optional.

While most kittens are adopted within one to two weeks, only an average of one rabbit is adopted each month.

E Pet Stop estimated that it has 20 rabbits up for adoption currently.

Both pet shop owners also make sure that adopters are thoroughly informed of the temperaments and needs of the animal they're adopting.

And even though they have been taking in unwanted pets, the two women find the reasons offered by pet owners for giving up their pets inexcusable.


Said Miss Ong: 'I would like to appeal to pet owners to bear in mind that owning a pet is a lifetime commitment.'

Miss Chin added: 'And even though pets can bring an endless amount of joy and happiness, potential pet owners should research and consider all the factors carefully before getting a pet.'

Judging from the number of pets being given up and waiting to be adopted, Singapore may soon need counselling for potential pet owners.

Jail, fine for people who abandon pets

PEOPLE who abandon pets will be dealt with severely.

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, told The New Paper that it is an offence to abandon a pet.

The penalty is up to 12 months in jail or up to a $10,000 fine or both.

He added that AVA was not aware of the pet abandonment problem at Farmart Centre, but it would send officers down to check.

When asked why they had not contacted the AVA about the problem at Farmart Centre, both Miss Pauline Chin and Miss Julie Ong said they were keeping that option open.

Likewise, Farmart Centre's Mr David Ong said the centre had not found the problem significant enough to approach AVA for help.

Farmart Centre would only consider the problem significant if animals were being abandoned every weekend.


Farmart Centre's public relations manager Ms Evangeline Tan, 30, said the centre had erected an anti-dumping sign next to its animal corner in November last year to discourage pet dumping.

Mr Madhavan also said that Farmart Centre can inform AVA and give details of known cases.

AVA would then discuss the matter with Farmart Centre to see how to catch the offenders and deter such activity.


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