Friday, September 30, 2005

"I want to help"

We had someone write in because she had sent some cats to the SPCA and then she wanted them back and this is not the first time is has happened. She asked us to please help but often (as in this case) the person signed a document saying that they were giving the community cats up. The SPCA was able to give her the cats back, but here's the thing - please do not send a cat in unless you realise that the cat is going to in all probability be put down. There's no point sending the cat there and then running to us to ask us to get the cat out. The SPCA has more than 1000 animals sent in every month - they simply don't have the space to take anymore. I realise this was a slightly different case as the woman was facing family objections and the cat kept running into her home but as a rule, be aware of what happens when a cat is sent into SPCA - don't send it in and then regret it later because it may be too late.

Here's the thing - people often write in and say they want to help, but they want (i) the Society to find them a foster, (ii) get them a preferential rate or better still, free treatment,(iii) come pick up the cat and send it in and (iv) board it afterward. I'm not speaking about caregivers who have to look after many cats - these are people who come across ONE cat or a cat once in a blue moon and 'want to help'.

Alternatively, they try and find some other kind soul and ask that person to take in a cat. That person is probably already doing a lot. I often wonder how these people can justify handing another cat to a foster or adding a cat to their colony and walk back to their homes, which sometimes have no animals in them! These people aren't managing colonies either.

Today I got two different emails - one from a TNRM group trying their best to rehome an abandoned kitten. They're spending a lot of money already and they know they're quickly reaching their limit and I do have a lot of sympathy for them because I know how hard it must be. On the other hand, I have this person who writes in and has ONE cat she found. She has been bugging me all day about the discount she can get, how much it will cost, who's going to foster it and goes on about how she's only one person helping this cat out. As far as I know this is the second cat she has written in to 'help'. Surely once in a long while, since she has a job and 'wants to help' she can afford the relatively small sum she was quoted. If not, then let the Society know what the problem is, or don't 'help'.

If you want to help, then do something - as they say, either put up, or shut up.

SPCA sign

It's quite clear - when you walk into SPCA there is this big sign on the door that says they have no choice but to put most of the animals down. Plus there are two other signs that say the same thing. So there's really no excuse for people who say they didn't know. I had to drop by the SPCA today to drop off some leaflets and was also told that if people call, the receptionist will tell them that they have no choice but to put most of the cats down.

The "are you for real?" request of the day

The woman who wrote in yesterday (and just wrote in again a few minutes ago) to ask if we can help foster a cat for her till her child's exams are over. That way she can decide AFTER the exams if they want to keep the cat. She just wrote in to say that she has decided against keeping the cat after I explained that if she decides NOT to keep the cats in three months, then we will be in a real bind.

We've been getting a lot of people writing in again asking us to take cats. I wonder why the sudden influx of requests.


I love this t-shirt which I got at CHAMP. I like how they also use TNRM - but their 'M' stands for Maintain.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Talk at the Zoo

Singapore Zoo

So I'm giving a talk at the Singapore Zoo next Sunday. I'm looking forward to the Ben & Jerry's ice-cream afterward!

The mystery of the missing envelopes

We recently instituted Business Reply Service envelopes for people to easily return our GIRO forms to us. I received a delivery receipt in the mailbox before I left and went to the counter to ask what to do with them but was told to just ignore them as they were a record of our deposit.

Now I realise we've been billed for a number of envelopes we never received. I called up the main hotline at Singapore Post and have been told the envelopes are all with the post office!

Service in Singapore - you have to love it.

On another note, the Millionaire article on CWS was just sent to us so that we can check the facts. The writeup was good but the funny thing is that everyone else in the article is holding or promoting pedigreed dogs or cats. We're the only ones there who (i) aren't well-connected society people and (ii) are promoting community cats!

Get Fuzzy

Get Fuzzy

Look at the strip from today's Get Fuzzy - it's great!

Back to work

Back at work this morning - still a little bit jet lagged. A lot of snail mail has piled up and I have more to collect this morning.

Plus people need cat traps, leaflets delivered, etc. So it's back into the fray!

Monday, September 26, 2005

There's a writeup on each cat. This poor cat was left by its previous owner. Posted by Picasa

Another shot of the cages. Posted by Picasa

Pet Adoption Centre at Petsmart - all of the big pet shops I''ve visited have adoption centres in them. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Visit to Alley Cat Allies

I dropped by Alley Cat Allies again yesterday - they're going to help sell our "Real Singapore Cat" book on their website.

They're hard at work with the cats down in the Gulf Coast because of all the cats displaced because of the Hurricane. I did speak with Donna and Kris from ACA for a while - realised that the situations we face may be in different countries, but that people around the world behave the same!

For one thing, she mentioned that they have problems getting vets to do early spay neuter too. Donna took two years to convince a vet to do it - and now he says he really likes it.

We were also talking about people who won't sterilise and keep saying they'll find homes for them. One lady Donna spoke to had 27 cats by the time they got her to sterilise them.

I've always thought that if you took caregivers from all over the world and put them together, they'd find they have far more in common no matter what their culture or background. We all speak a common language - cat :)

Cate from Humane Alliance also wrote. She has said that she would be willing to come to Singapore so share how to start up a clinic! That would be great - now we just need to get funds to get them over!

Look what Alley Cat Allies has on their board - our ginger cat postcard from Life on the Streets! Posted by Picasa

Disposable Animals

Why I killed my Cat

This post had me boiling mad. Why is it that people seem to feel justified to put an animal down because it no longer fits into their lifestyle? This is not about whether people are more important than animals - this is about taking on an animal. You make the decision to take in the animal, so you should be responsible for it.

For example, this woman has a yard - why not build a little shelter for it in the fenced in yard? The cat could live outside AND be safe. Her house wouldn't be soiled either.

Also, why bring the cat to the humane shelter to kill it? Why are societies the dumping ground for everyone's unwanted pet? No one wants to feel bad - so let's just pass the responsibility to a shelter or society so it's not MY fault. The writer and her family didn't even spend the few extra dollars (despite spending thousands on furniture replacement, vet fees, etc) to have it put down at the vet rather than bringing a stressed out cat to a shelter to put it down. It seems that the writer wasn't there, and neither was her daughter - the pet that she admitted did bring some joy to their lives, was just sent to be killed. Out of sight, out of mind.

Again I really wish everyone in the family was made to stand there and watch as they kill these animals. I bet euthanasia rates would go down.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sterilisations - get them done properly

Disturbing - someone emailed to say that they had a cat that had been sterilised by a visiting vet from another country who came in at the request of an acquaintance. The cat was not sterilised properly and subsequently gave birth. It has since died of an infection that may or may not have had anything to do with the blotched surgery.

She said she had to pay $40 for the surgery. She didn't mention where it was done. Please do be careful if someone offers to do a surgery for you somewhere because there is someone who can do it cheaply. Every vet practising here must have a license - in fact that's why we've had so much trouble getting vets in to do high volume spay neuter because of the licensing restrictions. Even getting a demonstration done proved to be very difficult. However, if there IS a problem, you can get the AVA to look into it, whereas if you get some vet who is doing the sterilisations under the table so to speak, you can't do anything if the cat bleeds out. You also want to make sure it's done in sterile conditions - infections can kill a cat. IF something does go wrong during the surgery, you also want to make sure that the cat has proper medical equipment.

This is not in any way to run down foreign vets, many of whom are fantastic. However, it's to basically say we should all be careful. These are the questions you should be asking :-

1. Where is the surgery done - if it's not done in a proper vet clinic or with proper equipment be very wary;
2. Whom the vet is and whether they're licensed;
3. What is the protocol should something go wrong - ie where do you bring the cat to? Sometimes things do go wrong despite everything - you want to know where you ought to be bringing the cat to in that case; and
4. What the post operative care procedures are. Ask the vet or vet assistant or person who is admitting or releasing the cat if you're not sure.

It's not worth risking the cat's life for a cheap operation done under shoddy conditions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cate, who was ever so gracious about showing me around and answering my thousand and one questions!  Posted by Picasa

One of the kittens awaiting sterilisation. They sterilise cats from 10 weeks old.  Posted by Picasa

The van used for transport. Posted by Picasa

Cats waiting to be sterilised, and recovering from sterilisation. They separate the males and females for easy identification, males on the right, females on the left. Posted by Picasa

The clinic. Posted by Picasa

Waiting room of the clinic. Posted by Picasa

Visit to Low Cost High Volume Clinic in Shenandoah Valley

I went to the Shenandoah Valley Low Cost High Volume Spay Neuter clinic today, set up by Spay Virginia. It wasn't a huge clinic in terms of size, but they're sterilising 25 animals a day - both cats and dogs. They set up using the Humane Alliance Model - the Humane Alliance come in and help teach the protocol based on the model they used in their first clinic in Ashville. They gave a presentation at CHAMP last year and were very impressive.

Cate, the lovely lady who manages the Shenandoah clinic, and who took time out of her busy schedule to show me around, said that the Humane Alliance were quite invaluable in helping out. She said that they came and showed them everything from samples of the forms they might want to use to vet techniques to do high volume spays and neuters.

The low cost rate applies to everyone - they aim it at low income and feral cat caregivers, but no one is turned away if they can pay the cost, which is US$35 for males and US$50 for females. It would be too time consuming and complicated to do means testing for income. They're also considering switching using sutures to stainless steel, because it is cheaper and apparently the cats have no reaction to it at all, which is great!

They have two operating tables, which I was told saves a lot of time because the vet can easily move from room to room.

The clinic also has a van that does pick ups for rescue groups or people living further away - it services an area of about 100 miles. Residents from the nearby areas must however bring the cats in themselves. Cate mentioned they will be expanding the clinic so that they can have three surgeries and hire more vets to do more animals.

She mentioned that they still have a waiting list of people who want to bring their animals in and that around 80% of their clients have never brought the animal to a vet, whether it be a pet or a feral/community cat. As such, this clinic is the only chance these cats will have to be sterilised. They also did an event last month where they worked with a local welfare group to do cats and did 330 in three days! Amazing work.

Few of the cats have complications and those that have died have had pre-existing conditions when they did a necropsy.

Thanks to Teresa and Cate for organising my visit!

The sign marking the Shenandoah Valley Clinic. Posted by Picasa

Trip to the Shenandoah Spay Clinic - which is in the Shenandoah Valley region. It's a gorgeous (if long) drive. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

This is the back of the same t-shirt - it's to encourage men that it IS a Macho thing to neuter! Posted by Picasa

One of the problems about sterilising in the US (and probably all over the world) is that some men refuse to neuter their male pets, so Hooters, the restaurant, decided to do Hooters for Neuters.  Posted by Picasa

Spay Virginia South Central Region

Spay Virginia South Central Region

This is the clinic I will be visiting tomorrow in the beautiful Shenodoah Region.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Yes I DID try the quiz - no, I didn't hit seven.  Posted by Picasa

Look what I found at a store - just goes to show, stereotypes are the same everywhere around the world! Posted by Picasa votes

There are very interesting comments on the votes for charities - it seems that some people think people should be given the money, others think animals should because they never get anything.

What was most interesting was that someone asked if CWS had 'manpulated' the blog results. Being a total non-IT person, I have no idea HOW to even do that! :) However, what people probably don't realise is this. I'm a blogger - and people who read this blog are probably bloggers too, or are people read blogs. As such, it isn't such a stretch to imagine that they might know the tomorrow poll, or read about it here, and vote for CWS. Sometimes there really is no conspiracy :)

Appeal from ACRES

Just got this email from ACRES :-


We need your fast and immediate action to prevent Acres from closing
down due to serious financial problems. We have only S$2000 left in the
bank and unfortunately we are unable to carry on at this rate.

We have been trying our best to raise funds but we need your help to
tide over the next few months.

This work year has seen Acres take on several campaigns. Our recent
undercover investigations into the illegal pet trade in Singapore
revealed that one in five local pet shops sold illegal species of
wildlife. This led to a raid on 20 pet shops with numerous animals
confiscated. Our Wildlife Rescue Team's work has also led to the rescue
of more than 140 animals from the illegal wildlife trade, in a period of
only 10 months. We're also working on establishing the first wildlife
rescue centre in Singapore. More details of our work are enclosed below.

Currently, for this work year, we've spent S$87,000, with more than 82%
spent on our animal protection programmes. As always, majority of the
money we raise goes towards helping the animals.

I've attached the Acres brochure to this email with the donation form.
I've also attached the giro form. Please help us continue our important
work in ending the exploitation of all animals. I'm confident that with
your support and donation, we will be able to continue to make a real
difference for animals.

We are also working hard towards setting up an Acres animal rescue
centre in Pulau Ubin which has approved in principle by the governmental


I can't attach their forms, but ACRES website is at and all their donation information is there.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thanks everyone for going to vote! We're doing pretty well in the polls so far! If you haven't voted, please do. I would hope you vote for CWS, but I know that any vote is going to a good cause!

No Kill Movement Declaration

No Kill Movement Declaration

Check out the declaration of the No Kill Movement.

Michelle and I met Mr Winograd at CHAMP and I basically gushed about how much I admired his work for five minutes! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and the animals

There's been so much news about hurricane Katrina and one of the big stories is about the animals involved. The last few days, the news have been focusing largely on the animals. I was speaking to the ACA people and they mentioned that in one shelter, they evacuated but left the animals - the animals on the lower levels all drowned, the rest treaded water till they were saved.

The man who gave the keynote address at the conference runs a radio programme and has been speaking to Katrina survivors. He mentioned speaking to quite a few people who didn't leave because they couldn't take their animals. One lady refused to go because she didn't have enough money to drive away and all the hotels that took animals were full. She said when she got to the pickup point - almost everyone was holding animals. She waited there for hours, and many people said they couldn't leave because they had animals they couldn't bear to leave behind. She said that they were all loaded on a bus, and these people had lost everything, but everyone was calm until they mentioned that they would be separated from their animals. She said at this point, people started crying, from kids to adults. When they got to the shelter, the woman who ran in, encouraged them to take their animals in, and the woman with her animals said she realised the shelter was neat, people were respectful and responsible and everyone there was taking comfort in their animals and talking to them.

The man who told us this story ended off by saying that five years ago, there would not be so much coverage about animals - people would be saying it was insensitive to talk about animals when people were involved, but he made an excellent point. To many people, these aren't 'just animals' - he said these were family and I totally agree.

Look at the little boy who was separated from his dog at the Superdome - he was so upset, he cried until he vomitted. People all over the country looked for the dog - and now they've found it. Everyone loves a happy ending.

Help us vote! is looking for a charity to support over the next three months. If we don't win, the money will certainly go to a good cause. Still it would be great if we did come in first - I'm not saying win, because every charity really is a winner in the work it does and the other charities are really doing fantastic work.

Here's the link if you'd like to vote for CWS!

Charity for Tomorrow

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

One of the participants at the session on how to start a mobile clinic. Posted by Picasa

CHAMP - Day 2

The morning session was really interesting - Dr Mackie and Dr Young spoke about setting up clinics and what you need. Dr Mackie's came with a breakdown of how many people your clinic should serve, and what equipment you need along with how many vet technicians you need to get. They both re-emphasised how important it is to do neonantals and young kittens - they do them at 8 to 12 weeks. Dr Young has done day old kittens before, and he says he had no ill effects. Michelle came to join me after her workshop on E-philanthropy and we asked Dr Mackie about what sort of drugs they use. He mentioned that the vets should use whatever they're comfortable with and just reduce the dosage for the drugs they require for the younger kittens. All in all a very enlightening session.

We both attended the afternoon session on Direct Mailers, but it proved not to be so relevant for us in a local context. Then Michelle went to the workshop on Spay Dos and Don't and I went to the one on Trap and reunite - which was very interesting. The lady running it, Ms. Albrecht used to be a police officer, and she realised that some similar skills could be used for cats that go missing. She also mentioned that if an outdoor cat goes missing, it's much harder to find it, but an indoor only cat is easier to find. What I found most interesting was that cats usually hide after they've gone missing for as many as 7 to 10 days and that these cats are actually in the vicinity. They may hear their owners, but don't necessarily come out. As such, putting out traps can be very helpful. One cat was in the ceiling of a vet clinic for more than three weeks and only went into the trap then, even though it was hungry. Will be good information for people who have lost their pets.

Then it was the mad rush to the airport to catch our planes - a lot of people had left by this time, so the last few sessions were sparsely attended unfortunately.

Michelle doodling at breakfast on Day 2. She's wearing her TNR and Adopt a Pet wristbands. Posted by Picasa

The inside of the clinic on the neuter scooter. Posted by Picasa

Everything is fixed to the walls to maximise space. Posted by Picasa

Here's another shot of the interior of the Neuter Scooter. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Participants at International Session

Different dosages for cats in Neuter Scooter

Inside the Neuter Scooter

Neuter Scooter

Opening ceremony

There are about 500-600 delegates attending CHAMP.


Today was the first day of CHAMP and Michelle and I went to several workshops and also went to the exhibition hall, which is huge. The first session I went for was the one on Spaying young kittens. Apparently it has been done in the US since as early as the 1970s. The two vets gave us a video and it will also be posted on Animal People. It's amazing - I timed it and they did something like 4 males in 2 minutes. Also, younger kittens heal faster, have fewer complications and actually have a longer life expectancy if they are sterilised younger. There were a whole bunch of references as well to show that it makes sense both in terms of health and more importantly, population control. They mentioned that in adoption programmes 30-60% of people never bring the cats they have adopted back, even if they have free sterilisation, and many of these cats will then give birth themselves, leading to more problems. Sterilising the kittens young means that the cat will be given out adopted. In addition, we won't have town councils trapping unsterilised young kittens if they have agreed to leave sterilised cats alone. It also means that once a mother has weaned the kittens, we can bring them ALL in because they can start doing surgery on kittens at 8 weeks old. It was an extremely interesting session.

The other session we both went for was one on voucher programmes for sterilisation, but it turned out not to be very relevant to Singapore. Michelle went to speak to one of the speakers also about statistics and checking your success. Unfortunately, it was so full, Michelle couldn't get in.

The last session was the international panel, where we gave a short presentation on our work. There were great presentations from people all over the world, from Iran, India, Ireland, Romania, China and other countries.

We also stopped in to look at the Neuter Scooter that does 35 cats every time it stops in a neighbourhood. I'll be posting the photos.

Hello from Anaheim!