Conference Day Three
Today was part two of the Stray Cat Management session. There were very interesting speeches, one was about working with the government, and one was about how dogs' status as adoptable animals can be improved if the local dogs can be recognised as a breed. The speaker mentioned that stray dogs were hard to adopt out, but that when some of these strays like the Canaan dog of Israel became recognised as a 'breed', they became widely accepted and people wanted to adopt them. He also said that in a way, these were the 'purest' kind of dogs there are as the local dogs of many places are the indigenous dogs - hence the pedigree dogs are actually bred and derived from what we now term as the 'stray' dogs. One of the participants also mentioned that with the Bali street dogs, they found that they have a special gene that isn't found in any other dog - and it can help, if I understood correctly, with certain diseases other pedigree dogs have as that gene is missing in them.
It really is interesting - if our local cats, with their kinked tails and small stature could be considered a 'pedigree' cat (instead of the Singapura which has nothing to do with our strays in my opinion) then perhaps they would be so much more adoptable!
When you see the other conference delegates, you realise that Singapore is much more fortunate - we do have the resources and ability to tackle the stray animal situation. We don't have *touch wood* rabies. One of the speakers today said that where he comes from in India, they have 250 people bitten by dogs every day and they DO have people dying of rabies quite often. As such, the authorities stepped in, but instead of killing the dogs as they used to, they instead decided to work with the animal welfare groups. The authorities in this area gave land to set up a clinic, a van and even workers.
Here in a way because we have no rabies, the issue of stray animals is shoved to the back burner. In fact, we have the luxury of time to really tackle the problem head on. SARS caught everyone unawares, but it should not have - the animal population should have been controlled effectively and humanely right from the start through sterilisation. It seems these other governments are seeing that their methods of culling have not worked so they're trying something new and it is bringing the population down.
I'm looking around at the delegates and they're from countries much poorer than us, but they are getting support both financial and otherwise from their authorities. We are lucky enough that we are a first world country but without the stray cat population of say the USA (60-80 million estimated stray cats). We can and should really go out and make sterilisation the means of stray animal control. I honestly believe that with the authorities as efficient as ours, we can lick this problem through sterilisation. It's not going to take a lot more to really get a handle on the situation - we just need to start doing sterilisations aggressively. That would really make us a true first world country.