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JUNE 2, 2003
Animal shelter and Johor reject stray cats from S'pore

MALAYSIA will not accept some 2,000 stray cats from Singapore that animal rights activists have rescued from being killed when the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said last week that it was rounding up stray cats for 'public hygiene' reasons in the wake of the Sars outbreak, officials said on Monday.

The Animal Lovers League in Singapore last week said it planned to send the strays it had saved to the Noah's Ark animal shelter in Johor.

But Raymond Wee, the founder of Noah's Ark, claimed the Singapore group had not consulted him on the plan, which he stressed would overly burden the shelter. Noah's Ark, formerly sited in Seletar before it moved to Johor in 2000, already has 320 cats and dogs in its care, he said.

'We cannot accept any more stray cats,' he told The Associated Press.

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman also rejected the plan.

'Why must we settle the problem of these stray cats?' he was quoted as saying by Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper. 'Johor is not the place to cast off stray cats. We cannot accept the group's wish.'

Cathy Strong, president of the Animal Lovers League, said that the group had already run into problems getting export permits from the Government and was developing an alternative plan - building a cat shelter next to an existing private kennel in an open area of Singapore.

The proposal was being submitted to the AVA for a shelter that could accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 cats, Ms Strong said. It would cost S$300,000 (US$173,000) and could be funded by private donations. -- AP


Cat lovers in Singapore have been taking it upon themselves to round up strays and sending them to the animal shelter in Johor, Malaysia.

The AVA caused a stir when it said last week that it was stepping up the culling - from 35 cats a day two weeks ago to 45 now - for public health reasons, as sterilisation has not beeneffective.

While the link between cats and Sars has not been proven, the AVA said that it was for environmental and public health reasons that town councils werehelping to round up strays, especially those found at and around hawker centresand markets.

MR RAYMOND WEE: The Singaporean founder of the Johor animal shelter, Noah's Ark, says the Animal Lovers' League had not told him about its plan to put the strays in hi shelter, which is already housing 320 animals.
DATUK ABDUL GHANI OTHMAN: The Johor Menteri Besar or Chief Minister is asking why Johor has to end up settling the problem of the stray cats from Singapore.
MRS CATHY STRONG: The president of the Animal Lovers' League says that the group was having problems getting export permits for the cats from the Government, and is looking into building an animal shelter next to an existing private kennel in an open area in Singapore.


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