Thursday, August 31, 2006

Knowing when to speak up

Just got off the phone with a bunch of volunteers and different people including a rather hostile young woman who started yelling down the phone at me when I called her. She was upset about the whole culling situation which I understand, but she doesn't seem to know what to do and is getting upset with everyone else.

She claimed one of the volunteers is angry with CWS and rambled on non-stop for a few minutes in a rather condescending tone about what we ought to do. Now I know the volunteer she mentioned fairly well, and I told this woman so. I was scratching my head to think of whether I had offended her in any way - and when I called the volunteer direct later, she said she barely even knows this girl and when I told her what she said, she was even more taken aback.

Also I realised that this young woman doesn't really have a clue about the programme or TNRM. She kept saying they wanted to keep the TC's goodwill, but also wants to go to the press now and complain about them. She seemed reluctant to speak up if they did trap the cats eventually because she said the TC can do what they want.

What IS important is to get your facts straight and find out what is happening from the horse's mouth. The woman I spoke to, is the PA of the General Manager and the latter is on leave. She did know however what I was referring to the minute I called and said that the SMSes and emails were rumours but that she'd get another officer to call and confirm with one of the caregivers. This officer called another volunteer and said the information about the culling was false.

If the town council gives their word that it's not happening, then I think we should accept it. If they go BACK on it, then they should be questioned about it. However, deciding NOT to do anything in the interest of keeping goodwill if they do trap, but preparing to go to the press now, just doesn't seem to make any sense to me.

But I didn't WANT to feed them

I just spoke with a town council officer and the feeder from this morning who is wishing all manner of retribution on him. The feeder just called again to say that she has taken to feeding the crows for the last year, in addition to the cats. Now she doesn't WANT to feed the crows, mind you. She is doing this because the crows are following her around. The crows recognise her. When she is on holiday, they do not come, but wait for her to come back because they recognise her. Plus, according to her relatives, perhaps she is obligated to feed them because she owes them something in her last life.

The officer told her that perhaps she can just change her feeding spot (both of them agree on this) so that it is not so obvious that the whole of crows are following her. This feeder however says she does not want to do so. She also does not want to feed the crows so she told me she asked the officer to send people down to shoot them. She says it is up to the authorities to take care of the problem.

I told her since she does not want to feed the crows to just stop. The feeder says that it is not possible. They may attack her.

In addition, she says feeding the cats is also becoming a problem. If not for the cats, she would not need to pray to her Gods so many times a day to protect them. This is the first time I've heard cats blamed for forcing people to pray.

So I told her that there is such a thing as consequence. No one forced this woman to feed the crows. I told her no one put a gun to her head - she CHOSE to do so If she didn't want to, she shouldn't have, and now she has to deal with the fall out. She can use a water spray and shoot it at them for example since she doesn't want to feed them. Complaining that she doesn't want to feed them, while continuing to do so, and not of course being able to control the population, doesn't help. So when she really doesn't want to feed them in a few months, they're going to be even MORE crows 'attacking' her. Also, since she talks all the time about retribution, I told her that if as she says, she is feeding the crows because she owes them, what is going to happen when she orders them killed?

The officer said he is fine with her feeding the cats, but her feeding of the crows is attracting more unwanted attention for the cats too and that if she does not do it more discretely, the cats are going to get affected to.

But everyone here hates cats

I keep hearing this over and over again (and again in an email this afternoon) and I can tell you in my experience this is simply not true.

Sure people may come up and say I don't like cats. Now instead of staring blankly at them, ask them a simple question :- why? People may not like cats for various reasons, and most of them have to do with various problems they face. For example, some people are ignorant - they may not realise the cats there are being managed so they dislike the fact that more and more cats are being born in an area.

Alternatively, cats are defecating outside their house and it irritates them. If you can ask exactly what the problem is, you may find they have a problem and not a problem with the cats per se.

Of course there are SOME people who dislike cats - but in general they are the minority, just as the minority who really love cats. However, the vast majority of people do not want cats removed.

Sometimes when feeders don't see the cats causing a problem, they don't realise there is one. It's a good idea to ask - and to try and educate the public when you can about cat behaviour.

Another SMS going around

I'm sure at least some of you have gotten an SMS going around about another reported mass culling exercise going on in one of the areas. We're working on the situation now.

Unfortunately some of the other residents in the area have been less than supportive. We had been encouraging them to engage the town council in dialogue about this issue, as there were signs that this might happen, but there were quite a few who didn't want to talk to the TC but were more interested in trying to sterilise what cats they could catch, instead of looking at the wider scale of the matter. Via the SMSes and emails, I have been getting, I have seen that the SMS advises people to take cats in - this just means NEW cats are going to move in, and THEY are going to be caught.

Again, if the residents who are there do not want to speak up, it bodes extremely badly for the cats. Instead of working together at a workshop we held for them, they were more interested in complaining about the other members in the group. If they can't put it aside to help the cats, again that is extremely bad news for the cats.

Please do NOT contact the press as some people have been saying they will do. The caregiver in the area I am working with wants to try and resolve this first with the TC directly.

Display at Police HQ


Display at Police HQ
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this sign at the Police HQ yesterday in a display on the K9 Unit.

No one really cares

I was just speaking to a feeder in one of the areas today. She looks after the cats, but for some reason, she feels she has to stop sterilising because she promised one of the officers she would not do so, so she says. Some of the officers, in an attempt to curb the population, asked people to stop sterilising in some areas. This was so they could trap the rest.

In addition, she had some cats caught in her area recently, and I called to check if they were sterilised cats and why they were caught.

She told me that there was no point in talking to the town council or the MP. She would just pray for their eventual retribution because all the officers were evil.

Now first things first, just because the town council says something does not mean you HAVE to agree, it is not an inalienable truth that can never be changed. After all, you LIVE in the TC - the TC is supposed to make YOUR life easier, not the other way around. As a resident, your feedback counts - or it should count at least as much as the feedback of complainants.

Secondly, praying may be good for your soul, but praying for someone else to face retribution probably isn't going to be :) Putting that aside, let's face the immediate earthly plane. Why not TALK to the TC? The feeder says that the other people all say it's no use, that the TC doesn't listen, etc etc, though as far as I can ascertain none of them have really tried.

I told her if that's how they feel that the TC is right - no one really wants the cats there. If the people who are supposed to care the most about the cats cannot rouse themselves to let the town council or MP know how they feel, then they can't want the cats there very much.

This feeder's idea of speaking to the town council is also rather unique. Instead of proposing solutions, she told the officer he would face retribution one day for his evil actions. Now she says he doesn't want to talk to her. I have told her repeatedly we could hold a workshop to teach all her feeders how to handle complaints, how to manage the area properly, but they're all too busy for a workshop in their area. They have to feed the cats, and she has to pray - this despite the fact that I told her we can arrange a time to come down which is suitable for them all.

She has agreed that if her own cats are targetted, she will speak with her officer, but she can't do anything about anyone else's area, which is true.

Today (31-8-06)

No leniency for animal abusers

Thanks Vegancat for sending this in.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chinese Evening Papers

Veganmeowies told me that a friend of hers had seen an article about a cat being thrown down from a block of flats in Yishun. I spoke with her friend, who said that it was in either the ShinMin or the WanBao last night. Does anyone have access to these papers from yesterday, and could they please help me take a look?

Sterilising - more flexible than feeding

I spoke to a caregiver this afternoon. She mentioned that she has already sterilised all the cats in her area, but that she would like to do more in terms of sterilisation. She said she does not have the time to feed every day, and that in addition, so many people are already feeding in the areas around her but not sterilising. She said she would like to let them do the feeding, but that her role would be to sterilise.

She does bring up a good point too, which is that while feeding has to be done every day (or almost every day), sterilisation does give you a bit more flexibility. You can decide when is more convenient for you to trap and send the cats in. In addition, she is absolutely right - there are always people feeding, but not all those people are sterilising. I do know of a handful of people (and I do mean a HANDFUL :)) but I hope more people like this woman come forward.

First regions with low-cost dog & cat sterilization are still making fastest progress

Spay-Neuter progress

From the latest issue of Animal People.

Meeting with the police

I went for a meeting with the Deputy Director of the Operations Department for the Police Force today to discuss how we might work with them to make filing police reports easier. I had told them that we had several people telling us that they could not file reports, because they had been told that animal abuse was not serious. Apparently, they traced the officer who had answered the call that one of the caregivers made and spoke with him. She assured me when I asked, that the person would not get into trouble, but would be told what the proper procedure is. She said that feedback like this is very important - and they will not get anyone into trouble, but will be used to improve performance. She encouraged us to let her know if we do encounter such situations. She said they do not punish or rebuke officers unless they are rude or unprofessional in any way.

On a larger scale, I mentioned that we wanted to see how we could reach out to officers to try and get the information out that animal abuse is a crime. She mentioned that a circular had been sent out in March this year but that perhaps not everyone was aware of it still. I asked if it would be possible to speak with the officers or the recruits while they are still in the Academy so that they are aware of this law. She was open to the idea and suggested alternatively as well that perhaps we could send them a packet on what we would like them to teach. They can then also include the proper procedure that should be followed.

She also made it clear that if there is a crime being committed, or if someone finds an abused and dead cat after office hours, the public should call the police. She said alternatively, if it is during office hours, the public can also call the AVA.

Sterilisation volunteers

 

Here are the sterilisation volunteers, whom I joined after the council meeting last night, hard at work. These lovely ladies take calls from the voicemail, answer emails and help plan slots at clinics. Thank you for all your hard work ladies!

They are planning an event which will be announced in a few days by the Society. Posted by Picasa

Hungry cat

He meowed farewell

Josephine and I went for a meeting with another volunteer last night with the council of her estate who were concerned about the situation with the cats. They were worried about cats attacking people.

Josephine explained the situation and how many cats they had already sterilised and the strict schedule that the caregivers adhere to. Most of the committee members were supportive - some were surprised how much work was being done. One asked how the work was being paid for and Josephine mentioned that she and the other volunteers paid for it themselves. One of the gentlemen there said he would like to thank the volunteers for all their hard work and their help and to say he commended them on their work.

One man however, whom I believe is supposed to be the Chairperson,was rather difficult. He kept asking HOW we could be absolutely sure that no cat would ever attack - this was after Josephine explained that cats only ever attack in self-defence, and rarely at that. Another council member explained that cats generally would run away.

He also claimed that if they were sterilising, he wondered why the cat population was increasing. Two of the council members refuted it. One of the ladies mentioned that she had seen a visible drop in the population since the programme started. She also said that earlier a lot of money had been wasted removing the cats without seeing any improvement.

The man kept saying that IF a cat attacked, then the parents would not care if this was a one-off situation and that the condominium would be blamed. I said that in that case, we should ban cars from the condominium too because of the chance that there MIGHT be an accident. Josephine and I stressed that the condo WAS doing something by having a TNRM programme to cut down the population. He did not say anything at this point. In the end he suggested that there be a booklet or pamphlet to be sent to all residents to explain the situation on cats.

On the way out everyone thanked us. One of the gentlemen asked to borrow the TNR video we have from Alley Cat Allies. When we said our goodbyes, the majority of the council thanked us very nicely. The difficult man though insisted on meowing at us as we left and told the rest that they should not say goodbye but meow their farewells. Some of the council members looked a little embarassed I thought, and one joked that the man had already been neutered.

The gentlemen who borrowed the video called this morning to say he had watched it and found it very informative. He thanked us again for coming down and asked if a public session could be arranged to allow the condo residents who wanted to, to come and view the video. I assured him we would be delighted.

Cats awaiting their feeding time

 

Here are the cats I saw last night just after my meeting. Posted by Picasa

Meeting with police

Was going to post a photo of some cats at a colony that I saw during one of my meetings last night but Flickr is not co-operating so will have to do it later.

I'm off for a meeting with the police now.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My cat just died today. I want a cat ASAP.

Someone wrote into the adoption team to say that her kitten had been run over yesterday. She wrote in on the same day to say that her child was devastated and the woman was very sad too and they wanted another cat as soon as possible. She sent in an email today again and also managed to get my number and I realised that I had some missed calls from her today.

Now accidents happen, and sometimes cats do get run over. It's very sad, but no one meant for it to happen. However, the thing that was a little surprising was the speed at which she wanted another kitten. I know that the best thing to do is to get right back into the saddle and adopt if your cat dies but the same day? Generally aren't you still grieving for the cat that just died hours ago? Perhaps some people move on quicker then others. The other alternative - that the cat is just a commodity that can be easily interchanged - is just too chilling.

Fizzy playing with Ming


Fizzy playing with Ming
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Winnie for sending this in to share with us!

Cats in a yard

So the woman who wrote in today about tossing the cats at the market wrote in again. She said that her neighbours are really annoyed. I asked her why she didn't just get them sterilised. She says that she's just going to stop feeding, and that if the neighbours call the AVA then there's nothing she can do.

I told her if she sterilises them NOW then she can at least control the population. She keeps insisting that they are not her cats and she cannot be responsible for sterilising them - but she CHOSE to feed them. I told her that if she sterilises them then they will not reproduce.

She says that her neighbours are annoyed with her now and she doesn't know what to do. She says they will be calling the AVA she thinks. I said that if she had sterilised them when she first started feeding this would not have gotten to out of hand. Now she says not to worry, there are male cats in the estate so she thinks the survival rate of the kittens is going to be very low.

So I asked her - wasn't she doing this to be KIND to the cats? Now she's got them eating in her yard, annoying her neighbours and she's hoping that they somehow all drop dead so they don't cause HER a problem? Poor cats - they would have been better off hungrier but alive.

Tossing Cats at markets

I have my second email in the last two days about people tossing cats at markets. The first one was from a woman who picked up a cat. She was considering getting it sterilised after feeding for it for a while. Then she decided that it was too much trouble. Next stop? The market.

Another woman wrote in today. She has been writing in since early this year about the cat (now cats in the plural) in her area. She says that she feels bad that they're hungry so she has been feeding them. We advised her to sterilise, and she agreed, but there was always some reason that she could not sterilise. She was supposed to pick up traps from two different volunteers at different times but kept saying she could not do so. Now the one cat she started to feed has multiplied into eight, especially since the mother cat had 4 kittens yesterday. She says her neighbours are annoyed, so she is going to stop feeding, toss Dettol in the area to keep them away, and bring the kittens in two weeks, to you guessed it, the MARKET!

People love to throw cats at markets. Where there's food, they reason, the cats won't starve. Cats though when tossed there, and used to be being fed, will go up and beg for food from people, which means, they're probably going to get rounded up.

ST (29-8-06)

Light sentence for cat torturer sends wrong signal

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pet cat


Pet cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the pet cats I saw running around the condominium on Saturday. The sad thing is sometimes the other neighbours get irritated when they encounter a problem with the cats and they cannot tell between a pet cat and a community cat. While the pet cat will get reclaimed if caught in most cases, the community cat who may be unfairly blamed for some problem may not be so lucky.

Dreams

I was talking to Josephine today about a council meeting we're attending in her estate this coming week. There are quite a number of things going on this week, including a meeting with the police, the cat show, and various meetings and the like.

I mentioned to her that I took a nap after coming back from meeting with the management and volunteers of another condominium on Saturday and here's the funny thing - I dreamt the entire time about talking to someone about TNRM! :) Sadly, this isn't even the first time it's happened.

Scarecrow delivery

Some volunteers went by to deliver the Scarecrow to the difficult complainant yesterday. We sent along a contact for him to sign, which Josephine helped to draft. He balked on seeing the item about paying for incidentals, claiming that we had offered to pay for the water bill for the item. I had in fact done so, but the man kept claiming he has no idea what his average water bill is or how to calculate his water usage so there was no way to do so. He also demanded to know where I was and how come I wasn't there to demonstrate the Scarecrow to him.

Michelle and I had earlier agreed that we would just drop it off to him because this man was just illogical and to offer him the Scarecrow if he wanted him. There's no point speaking to him because he's not interested - he just wants to complain. I spoke to Jolanda, because he lives in her former estate, and she said that they were very queer people.

Feeders and caregivers

Since the letter came out in the Straits Times on Saturday about feeding, I've gotten a few emails from people and some comments on the blog. Some people have said that we should not be too harsh on the feeders. Others wrote in to complain about feeders in their area.

One person wrote in to say that he was irritated because his neighbours constantly feed next door and the cats run into his house. He has spoken with them, but to no avail. He asked why there is no society to help protect those who are having problems with people using cats against them.

He also said that to ask feeders to sterilise is pointless, because they love more cats and want more cats around.

I wrote back and pointed out a few things. First, not EVERYONE who likes cats acts the same way. He made the analogy that if you go to a sale, you can't tell people to keep their money for a rainy day because they won't listen. I wrote back to say that not everyone goes to sales - some people only shop for example, when they need something. I told him this was like saying that if someone leaves a soft drink can around, we should blame the soft drink company for producing drinks and ban soft drinks altogether.

Secondly, I pointed out that we don't endorse ALL feeding or all feeders. I asked him why someone who loves the cats would want them to continue reproducing uchecked, be in worse health and then be caught by the town council because there are too many cats? I said if they really loved the cats, they WOULD sterilise.

You may have noticed that I use the terms 'feeders' and 'caregivers'. I actually think that these two categories of people are entirely different, and of course within each group, people are all different and will thus behave slightly differently. The people I term 'caregivers' are responsible - they feed responsibly, they sterilise the cats and they manage them. Sure there are exceptional caregivers, and there are some so-so ones, but they are all trying their best to manage the population and complaints.

Feeders on the other hand, just do that - they feed. They don't sterilise. If the cat disappears, some of these feeders don't even care. If there are complaints, it's none of their business. They may be belligerent and get into fights with others. They feed because it is about them, not about the cats.

Now some feeders are feeders, because they don't know any better - they haven't learnt about the importance of sterilisation and management. That's understandable - and I am sure that on learnng about why sterilisation is good, they will do it because it's better for their cats. They will eventually become caregivers once given the right information and support - that's where all of you can help to come in too. If you see someone feeding, please speak with them about the importance of sterilisation. I just got an email today from someone who spoke to a feeder and is now asking how to sterilise. Great work Angela!

On the other hand, the hard ones to reach are the ones who just enjoy the act of feeding. For them, it really isn't about the cats, because if the cats are gone, they don't particularly care. In the Jurong case for example, the caregiver there is horrifed that some of the feeders were absolutely nonchalant when she told them the cats were being abused. One asked her when she was going to get more food in response to being told. How is this loving or caring for the cats?

Wanbao (26-8-06)


Wanbao (26-8-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks HW for sending this in. I spoke to SPCA to find out what is happening with this case and they've contacted the newspapers to ask the owner to please call them.

My Mandarin isn't the best but from what I understand there is someone throwing darts at cats at Hougang Street 22. This man's pet cat got hit in the eye, and they suspect someone, but the person denied it.

ShinMin (24-8-06)


ShinMin (24-8-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Another two abuse cases. Rebecca sent this in. Thanks Rebecca.

The cat has been scalded obviously and some young people took the cat to the vet.

Cat in bushes


Cat in bushes
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to a condominium on Saturday to talk about setting up a programme there. They're agreeable, but hopefully they can find people who are able to help out as they do need more residents to help out.

I saw a complaint letter from one of the residents about the TNRM programme starting up - he also complained about having to pay for gym facilities, some key card, etc. Some complainants are just difficult about everything.

Jurong update

What a long of things happened this weekend and unfortunately most of them weren't good. Another 4 cats disappeared in Jurong East. Some volunteers went down and patrolled the area. Apparently there are no short supply of people acting strangely in the area.

It's worrying because the abuser seems to have stepped up the abuse. One cat crawled back home (this was a home pet that the family let out to wander) and collapsed before it could get to the right unit. When some of the volunteers patrolled an area I understand that they parked at one of the blocks and came back and found that one of the volunteer's wind screen had been smashed even though they left the car for just a few minutes. It may or may not be connected to the abuse - but definitely makes it less safe for the volunteers if someone has spotted them and knows who they are.

I was speaking with the volunteers about this and told them that sometimes it comes down to this :- do you want to catch the abuser or do you want to stop the killings? Of course, everyone WANTS to catch the abuser, but at the same time, it doesn't always happen. In one case years ago, I remembered that our reward flyers were distributed and the suspect was identified by his neighbour. The neighbour would not testify out of fear for his safety, but with the information, the police warned the suspect and the killings stopped. In that case, the suspect was never apprehended but the main thing for those volunteers was that the killings stopped.

The volunteers in Jurong now have to make that same decision on what they want to do. It's great that so many people have come forward to help but everyone can only offer help and suggestions at the end of the day because the decision really belongs to the people who look after those cats. They'll have to live with the consequences, more so then anyone else, of their decision.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Letters to the Straits Times

CWS & SPCA letter - a condensed version of the letter sent in.

Cats pose no danger if respected

Off for a meeting.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Strange advice

I just got a call from the caregiver who discovered the abuse in Jurong East. Apparently a woman called saying I had asked her to contact the caregiver, which is strange. Firstly, I never give out numbers without checking with the caregivers first - and only two people asked for the caregiver's number to get in touch with her. The person also did not want to give her first name.

The caregiver mentioned that this person had said they had worked on the previous cat abuse cases which had occured and that it was best not to hand the corpses over to the police but to leave it for her to examine. Again this is very unusual advice because I am sure if the person was involved in both cases, they would know that the post-mortem was crucial to the prosecution. Unless the person in question is a vet, I am not sure what she can do.

The post-mortem is crucial. One reason that the Old Airport road cases were hard to prosecute was the fact that the earlier bodies could not conclusively show the cats had been abused. Remember - the prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. So if there was no post-mortem done, there IS a doubt - the cat MIGHT have been killed otherwise. Perhaps it was an accident, perhaps it died of illness.

True, the post mortem may not always be conclusive. For one thing, the corpse may be too rotten to determine the cause of the death. It is however certainly better then NOT doing anything with the body of the cat and leaving it there.

Another reason is honestly credibility. A defendant will ask why if there were so many dead bodies, none were reported to the police? If you DO report, it helps to build up the case that there have been a number of crimes in the area.

The caregiver is also surprised at the advice and wanted to ask my take on it. I told her I didn't tell anyone to call her except a young woman this morning, and that was at the request of the caregiver.

SMS alert

Just got back from Bras Brasah where the adoption volunteer and I went to buy boards for the adoption drive next week.

I am still getting inundated by SMSes, emails and calls about the situation I mentioned earlier Here's the situation, the deadline already lapsed and no cats were caught. We do not know of any intended roundup at this point.

I understand from the caregiver that the TC plans to do a survey among residents about the cats. The caregiver has already gone door to door to speak with residents, but she thinks it best to see what the result of the TC survey is to decide if we ought to go around the neighbourhood and ask residents for specific questions if necessary. Right now, only one resident complained about the cats.

It's best to see what the TC (with help from the RC I believe) is going to ask first before deciding if a new survey is needed. How the questions are worded may be leading. For example, if the question is :- do you think there are a lot of cats in the neighbourhood, someone may agree with that statement. This of course is completely different from asking if someone would want those cats removed and killed.

Yishun

Update on the situation in Yishun. I spoke to the officer this morning. One of the cats was caught as I mentioned and sent to AVA. According to the officer, Mrs Lee called this morning and asked that the cats be removed but that they not be put down. The officer told her that the pretty, healthy cats would be sent for adoption at AVA (a notion which I tried to disabuse her of). Mrs Lee asked what happened to the rest, and she admitted they were killed. Mrs Lee apparently told her this was cruel, but the officer said there was nothing else she could do.

She told me she would go down and speak with the units in question today. I told her I had already gone down and flyered the blocks and spoke to whomever I could. I realised that besides pest control, the newspapers and the TC have not gone down yet.

I asked if the officer saw a lot of cats in the area and she said she did not.

She referred a case of someone she says is hoarding cats and requested i look into it.

A caregiver from another area also called up to see if she could redeem the cat caught. It turns out that the cat caught may be a completely different cat. Mrs Lee told me the cat they saw may have been pregnant. This was an ear tipped cat of a different colour.

ST (25-8-06)


ST (25-8-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo from the Straits Times of the Old Airport Road abuser.

Attorney-General's Chambers

Some people have written it to ask what they should do about the sentencing for the Old Airport Road abuser. Write in to the Attorney-General's Chambers and tell them how you feel about this case :-

ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S CHAMBERS
Address : 1 Coleman Street, #10-00, Singapore 179803

Tel : 63361411
Fax : 63325984
Internet Website : http://www.agc.gov.sg
Email Address : agc@agc.gov.sg

As always, please be calm, polite and reasonable. We're also preparing to write to them on this matter.

Cat Body Language

Kuro.shiro.Neko was suggesting that it's good to have a guide to teach people how to read body language of cats so that people know when to stay away. It would be great if most people could get to learn the basics about cats, and here's a guide :-

Cat Body Language

The problem is this (1) it's just a guide. Reading it, yes you can see some signs when you should leave cats alone, but it's only with experience that you really know what to do. For example, by the time the cat is hissing as in the photo, I think most of us would have left that cat well alone because it's about to strike (2) people who don't really like/are not interested in cats are the ones who may benefit the most, but will they read it, when information is already out there? Furthermore, there's no substitute to experience and that you can only learn from coming into contact with a cat. People usualy feel they need this information when its too late - ie after the fact.

Really the one thing you need are parents who are prepared to show the children what to do - and the problem is that most parents have never had experience with animals themselves. I know people with children and some of these two to three year olds handle cats far better then their adult counterparts do. Children are naturally drawn to animals, and in at least some cases I think cats actually put up with more from a child then they would for an adult. I have seen an unfriendly, timid cat but who lets the child in the family happily use her for a pillow, gently pull her tail, etc. The mother corrects the child but the child is still very little - he doesn't mean harm, and the cat knows the child well enough to know that too.

So there's only one rule of thumb :- don't corner a cat or frighten it and that includes not making sudden movements that scare it. That's it. If you don't particularly like cats then try and stay out of their way. They'll definitely try to stay out of yours.

For the rest of us, we learn through experience. I'm sure most, if not all of us, have gotten scratched at some time or other if you come into contact with a cat but few of these scratches are serious. You learn to read the cat and try to stay out of the way as best as you can in the future. Of course, each cat is also different - come to think of it, just as people are.

8 weeks' Jail for cat abuser

Thanks Siva for sending this in. Italics are mine.


Aug 25, 2006
SITNews: Eight weeks' jail for cat torturer
by Kushwant Singh



AN AIR-CON technician pleaded guilty in the Community Court to torturing a cat and was jailed for eight weeks yesterday.

Malaysian Wong Geng Thong, 28, had befriended the cat after having dinner at a Haig Road coffee shop on July 31.

He fed it some cat food he had in his van and played with it. But when it scratched his leg, he became furious and put it in his van before driving off.

He reached the multi-storey carpark at Block 93A Jalan Dua, off Old Airport Road, at about 1.40am and parked in a deserted corner. He let the cat out but grew angry when it started running around.

He tied a wire noose around its neck and lifted the wire, hanging the cat by the neck. Every time the cat lost consciousness, Wong would revive it by massaging its chest.

He repeated his cruel game until the cat could not be revived.

Removing the wire noose, he grabbed the cat by the neck and bashed its body against the wall several times. He threw it on the floor and kept kicking it before driving off.

Wong did not realise all this had been captured on a spy camera in the carpark.

After cleaners found the grisly remains of 10 cats in the neighbourhood over the past five months, animal lovers started weekend patrols and raised funds to buy video cameras.

They then convinced the town council to hook up six miniature cameras to zoom in on areas in the carpark where several of the mangled bodies were found.

Mr Ishak Puteh, 42, a cleaner, called one of the animal lovers when he found the dead cat on Aug 1 at about 9.30am.

He alerted Miss Sandy Lim, who spotted a blue-and-white van in the video footage of a man swinging a cat from a lasso-like rope tied to its neck.

The education consultant, who is her 40s, scoured the neighbourhood, found the van and tailed the man to his workplace in Eunos, where he was later arrested by the police.

Miss Lim and two other cat lovers, who were in court yesterday, said they had expected a stiffer sentence.

She said: 'The punishment did not take into account the full severity of the crime as about 10 cats have been killed.'

Added graphic designer Fiona Yuen, 32: 'We've no doubts he is a serial cat killer.'

In passing sentence, District Judge Bala Reddy stressed the seriousness of the offence. He also noted that the psychiatrist who examined Wong was concerned he might abuse people too.

Wong could have been jailed up to a year and fined up to $10,000.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is upset with the sentence, and will be submitting an appeal to the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Said the executive officer of the SPCA, Miss Deirdre Moss: 'With due respect to the courts, the SPCA thinks the punishment does not fit the crime, and may be sending out the wrong signal that such brutality is tolerated in society.''

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Meowing


Meowing
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is one of the few cats I saw. They were all unsterilised, but there really weren't many of them - and they were friendly too, which makes me think pest control hasn't been around to do a major round up yet.

I was told to speak with the market holder who told me a lot of people feed but almost nobody sterilises. I've asked her to help us get in contact with the people there to get them to start sterilising. She said that she knows most of the feeders, but that she thinks they won't sterilise because they are all generally older. Sigh.

I have heard there is a lot of indiscriminate feeding. The childcare centre said there is food near the mailboxes everyday. Yet no one sees to know whom the feeders are, except for the florist. I also met a woman who said she cycled around and fed all the cats but did not sterilise. She insisted that cats do not attack. I asked her to please feed further way and to get her cats done, so she took down the details.

Interestingly, when I was walking around the Lees block, and asked people if they had problems with the cats, I spoke to two people in adjoining units. One unit said there were a lot of cats that came up and bothered them, the one next door said that they had no problems with the cats whatsoever.

A caregiver wrote in and said people have started calling her town council to complain about the article already.

Bird Feeder


Bird Feeder
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this unusual bird feeder as I was making my rounds today.

I walked around the 10 or 15 blocks in the area to assess the situation, and bumped into some feeders. One told me there were a LOT of feeders, but strangely I only saw something like 6 cats around. I wondered aloud if some of them might be home cats, and the woman mentioned that she thought some of them were, as she had seen cats walking up and down the staircase of one of the blocks.

Also in the Lees block, there is one family that definitely has cats, another which I suspect has cats, and a third which claimed they didn't feed any but did seem quite interested in the information. I was also almost certain I could hear kittens meowing in the flat. Mrs Lee mentioned that there were cats sometimes in the corridors and food as well, but she thinks the town council may have spoken with the neighbours as there was none out today.

Visit to Nicole and her family

I went down to visit with the family of Nicole this afternoon. Nicole is recovering, though sadly, Mrs Lee said Nicole is now quite scared of cats, which is to be expected under the circumstances I suppose. Unfortunately I didn't get to meet her because she was resting, but I did leave her a small get well present.

Mrs Lee was nice and thanked me for coming down. I explained I was trying to speak with the feeders to see what can be done and she said she was glad that something was being done about the situation. Mrs Lee mentioned that there were quite a few people leaving food around, and said that even Nicole's childcare centre complained that there were cats walking in and out and that's a few blocks away. I told her I would flyer the block. She mentioned someone left food right in front of their flat.

I asked Mrs Lee if she knew what happened, but she was not in the room. I now know why no one saw how the little girl was attacked - the main door is at an angle behind the bookcase, so someone in the living room would not be able to see what is happening, even though technically they are in very close proximity.

I told her that in general cats do not attack, and that while in no way were we trying to say that they did anything to deliberately provoke the cat, it may have felt threatened. She said that the cat might have been frightened when her son and her mother in law walked in and then run out and straight into Nicole who then unfortunately got hurt. How she got scratched on the face we'll never know because no one saw it happen.

She did say that they used to like animals, but not so much now. However she did not want the cat killed either. She said the town council came today and took the cat in question away. She asked them where they were taking the cat as she did not want it hurt. She said they assured her it would not be hurt but it was going to be taken to 'Pasir Panjang'. When I told her what that meant, she looked quite taken aback.

They have wired up the door now so that there will be no more repeats of the cats running in.

Under the Pest Control Van


Under the Pest Control Van
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back an hour or so ago from Yishun - this not too bright cat was sleeping under a pest control van!

Visit and Police

I'm going down now to see the family and the feeders in Yishun.

Also, the police wrote back in response to my request for a meeting to discuss protocol on what to do in cases of animal abuse. They were very quick I must say - most efficient.

When cats attack

For some reason, I noticed that articles I've posted are only showing up hours later in some cases. Not sure if this is a blogger issue.

SPCA and CWS are sending in a joint letter about the little girl who was attacked by the cat today. I'm trying to get in touch with the reporter but she's not in so I can speak with the neighbours next door and the family too.

We obviously want to speak with the neighbours so they don't leave food right outside their home and speak to them about proper management.

I'm hoping to clear up a few things as well. For one thing, no one saw the attack according to the newspaper article. It may be that it happened too quickly and no one saw what happened, or it just wasn't reported, but it seems from the article that the grandmother was chasing the cat, and that the brother was also in the same room. I hope that by speaking with them, that we may be able to piece together details to find out what actually happened so that everyone's mind will be at rest that this sort of thing won't happen again.

It's also unusual that the poor little girl got a deep scratch on her face. A cat is unlikely to launch itself at somone's face when trying to run away. Also if the girl was standing, it would probably have left some other scars on her and not just the one deep scratch unless the cat managed to sink one claw in while dangling with three other legs in mid-air. Perhaps there were other scratches but I would think they would have been in the article too.

The little girl was found squatting on the floor though - so it may be that she may have innocently got a little too close to the cat while squatting on the floor next to the cat. She may have leaned in or moved her face close to the cat, because otherwise,I think the cat would in all likelihood, have tried to run around her. As someone suggested, she may have been trying to lure the cat out nicely and unfortunately, got scratched because the cat was so scared and felt it was being trapped, when the girl was just trying to be kind.

We can really only speculate until we are able to find out more. The main thing is to try and let people know that this rarely ever happens and that there usually is a reason why. A vet I spoke to once told me that when animals attack, there is ALWAYS a reason, just that sometimes we don't know what that reason is.

Old Airport Road Abuser sentenced

I just spoke with Deirdre from the SPCA. It seems that the Old Airport Road abuser was just sentenced and he got a two month jail sentence.

Another abused cat

Another dead cat found in Jurong. Some of the residents are going down to patrol the area tomorrow. If anyone wants to help, please do let me know.

Fight of Flight Response

Animals when threatened will try and protect themselves, hide or run away. When they cannot do so, they sometimes lash out to try in a desperate means of getting away. If an animal feels cornered and under attack, it will lash out. Those of you with animals, know that an animal is most threatened when it is being chased around in an enclosed space with no means of escape.

Fight or Flight - this is in humans.

As some of you have suggested, sometimes unfortunately people are not familiar with how cats react in a situation, and this can cause problems :-
Fight or Flight

ST (24-8-06)

Thank you Vegancat and Otterman who sent this in.


Aug 24, 2006
SITNews: 15 stitches on toddler's face after attack by cat
by Leong Su-Lin

AN ATTACK by a stray cat left a three-year-old girl's face so badly wounded that she required 15 stitches.

Nicole Lee was stepping into her parents' flat in Yishun Avenue 6 at about 10.30pm on Monday when the grey and black cat attacked her at the doorway.

It had sneaked into the house earlier, and was fleeing from Nicole's grandmother, who was trying to scare it out by shouting and stamping her feet.

A few seconds later, she and Nicole's 15-year-old brother, who was walking ahead of his sister, heard the little girl scream.

They turned to see Nicole squatting on the floor, her face covered in blood.Nicole's mother, Mrs June Lee, 41, rushed out of her bedroom, and on seeing her daughter's bloodied face, thought she had fallen and cut herself.

Plastic surgeon Erik Ang, at Mount Alvernia Hospital, told Mrs Lee that the deep scratch, which ran from the top of Nicole's lip to the base of her nose was probably inflicted by the cat.

When the little girl recovered enough to talk, she confirmed that it was the cat that had attacked her.

She was stitched up and discharged, with a bill of $3,325.

Dr Ang said the depth of the wound makes it possible that Nicole will be left with some scarring.

Mrs Lee sent a picture of her daughter's stitched wound via an MMS to 75557, the number of Stomp, The Straits Times' interactive portal.

Nicole is recovering, but her mum worries that more cat attacks may occur because 'neighbours are leaving food right outside their doorstep for strays'.

The food attracts many cats to the area, and as there is a kindergarten and childcare centre nearby, she hopes the practice will stop.

'I don't want this to happen to any other children,' she said.



First of all, poor little girl. It did look like a bad scratch and I am glad she is recovering.

Secondly, we probably need to try and find those people feeding the cats and get them to feed away from the flats. I don't know anyone in this area though. Will need to contact the papers to see if they have any information.

Thirdly, food does not attract cats into the area. Cats are always in the environment. Improper feeding though can bring the cats into places where they are not welcome (like this home). If the food is left right outside the doorstep, this should of course be changed.

Having said that, here's one thing to remember - cats do NOT attack for no reason. Animals do not attack unless provoked. When the grandmother tried to chase the cat out of the flat, the cat probably got very frightened as well especially as there were quite a number of people in the flat at the same time. The cat in a desperate attempt to escape (since this was supposedly in the doorway), probably scratched the poor little girl as it may have felt she was standing between the only route between freedom and being hurt by the grandmother. I'm sure the grandmother did not mean it either - but any animal (including people) cornered will have the same flight or fight response. In this case, it was trying to flee - but the little girl may unfortunately have been the only thing between its flight to freedom.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Information sharing

The adoption volunteer and I were just talking. One thing that she mentioned she's a bit wary about is when people write in and say that they did this and that for the cats, volunteered here and there, or helped rehome XX number of cats. One such person wrote in today - and the funny thing is when we checked with the person she supposedly 'helped', the person said that they were quite concerned about working with her.

The volunteer said that she noticed that a good way to tell if someone is a good adopter is if they tell you about their background and their family - ie how many people in their family, what experience they have with cats, information about their past cat, if any, etc. If they are open and honest about it, she finds they usually make good adopters.

The ones she is wary about are the ones that do not tell you this but tell you what a great 'animal lover' they are and how much they have done for the cats - ie I have fostered cats (often this means, adopted a cat and then gave it up when they were bored), etc.

The difference I think is that the former tells you information that is pertinent to deciding if they are good potential adopters. The latter is that they are more interested in telling you what a great person they are.

Come to think of it, that's the same for caregivers and volunteers. Sometimes when you are a newcomer, it is always impressive when someone comes and tells you how much they have done, how much experience they have when it really doesn't have much relevance to the situation. I've often found though that the best caregivers are the ones who are the humblest - they never toot their own horn, and they always tell you that they haven't done anything. One caregiver I really admire always does that - she is amazingly hardworking but you'll never hear it from her.

Yes more phone calls and SMSes about the trapping in the town council, including a call from the press to whom a caregiver gave my number. I am actually quite surprised how the information really went around when I spoke with just the caregiver about it. As I mentioned though, I am concerned about bringing the whole town council's reputation into disrepute when it really is just one difficult officer.

I'm Singaporean too


I'm Singaporean too
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Befriending the cats

I spoke to a volunteer today about getting close to the cats in the area. Some people feel that befriending the cats is the best way to trap them for sterilisation. While it is good to be able to pick up the friendlier cats and just pop them into a carrier, other cats may not be so easy to trap. By the time you are able to bring them in, they may have already given birth.

Another reason that would be a factor against 'befriending' the cats is that they sometimes get too friendly! They start walking up to strangers - and yes even pest control. I have heard that some pest control are now using food to lure the cats, just as feeders do though I cannot confirm this.

This does make the cats more prone to trapping and abuse. They are more likely to be caught and taken away then if they are wary of people. In one colony I visited just last week, the minute I approached, the cats all scattered. They let the caregivers get close, but the caregivers don't play or pet them so they aren't too friendly. This could very well save their lives.

In other areas, cats I don't know come right up and rub against me. If I meant to trap them for nefarious purposes, it would be very easy.

SMSes about Town Council roundup

Today I've been bombarded with SMSes about a town council roundup in one of the TCs. So in case everyone is wondering, yes the town council did send an email last week saying that there was an anonymous complaint and that this woman was complaining that there were a lot of cats around the bin centre. That's it. End of complaint. The town council then said they would give a week before sending in pest control.

I wrote back and said that we were not given any details so we can't DO anything. What is the problem here exactly? The caregiver was informed and she was worried and also irritated. I don't blame her because this is the area under the Dificult Property Manager. Almost all, if not all, the cats have been done according to her as well.

The caregiver has been pro-active, letting other caregivers know about it, and I believe that is how the SMSes have started.

The officer who wrote to me (not the Property Manager) called me subsequently last week and said that he had received some phone calls. He also said that he was being 'pressurised' but that one of the callers had told him to contact the caller if there were any problems and that they could not solve the situation in a week.

PM's National Day Rally Speech

National Day Rally

Thanks to Vegancat for sending me the link to this - was going to look for it to post here and he found it.

I really like what the PM said about heartware and the importance of community. I was especially happy to read that he said

"But heartware isn't just something we do in schools, it's also about getting all Singaporeans to engage and to participate in shaping the character and the life of our society, to feel passionately about something in our country, to get together to do something about it.

They understand, they feel and they also got the digital age skills to do it. So I think that we are getting somewhere in schools. But heartware isn't just something we do in schools. It's also about getting all S'poreans to engage and to participate in shaping the character and the life of our society, to feel passionately about something in our country, to get together to do something about it and work something out for the community.

And this is happening at all levels. It's not something which the govt can force or direct, but we can foster it and we can allow it to happen."

Later on he also said

"So these are the ingredients of heartware. They are individual pieces. They are not all organised top-down plan, but they show people who care, they show people who are doing things, and they show people who will get together and will feel that S'pore is a place where I did these things and I belong because I contributed and I made it happen and I made it different."

If this doesn't describe community cat caregivers, I don't know what does!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sterilisation appointments

We're having some issues right now with sterilisations at some of the clinics. Some of the vets have said that they are having some problems with caregivers and volunteers canceling at the last minute (ie the day of the sterilisation operation).

We understand that the vets are doing us a favour by working with us and helping out with subsidised slots. They could of course have set aside the slots for their full price paying clients as well.

On the other hand though, caregivers DO sometimes have problems trapping the cats. The cats are not home pets - they are community cats and they are obviously harder to trap for that same reason. Also when it gets to the last few cats, it gets harder to trap the last few cats.

Some of the clinics have asked that the volunteers confirm the night before and let the clinic know if they are bringing cats in. However due to the fact that most caregivers have problems boarding, most only trap the cats late the night before. This means that they can only call first thing in the morning. We have asked the vets to please try and understand that this is a problem, though we appreciate their concerns.

Now we have to try and see how we can resolve this issue. We do not want a few volunteers to perhaps jeopardise the rest (even if they do not mean to). We have been banned at a few clinics because of one or two volunteers and this obviously affected everyone. At the same time, we do feel for the volunteers who were out till 2 am and not able to trap the cats.

Cat-A-Pult


Cat-A-Pult
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I realised I forgot to post this. I went to the florist the other day to try and get some rue after reading it was effective as an anti-cat deterent in Desmond Morris' book.

They didn't have any rue, but the lady at Far East Flora said this was supposed to be good. It cost $10.40 and there's another powdered form, which cost a little less.

TNRM workshop September 9th

Just to let all of you know that we've confirmed the next TNRM workshop on 9th September at 3 pm. It will be held in a room at Singapore Management University, though I'll have to confirm the exact room. As we have limited space, please do drop either myself or the Society an email so that we can book a slot for you. Thanks!

Town Council meeting

I met with some residents and the town council today. It went fairly well. The town council reiterated that they do not trap sterilised cats and that they are happy to work with caregivers. They said that they realise that a lot of complaints do come in because of home cats and the like. Interestingly, they did not have a problem with speaking to pet owners and asking them to keep the cats in, which some town councils did. They also emphasised that they had no issue with responsible feeding at all. They said they do tell people not to litter but responsible feeding is fine.

Another dead cat

Right after the town council meeting, the caregiver called to say another cat had been killed in Jurong. I spoke to the Investigating Officer and he said to call for a squad car to head down and investigate which is what the caregiver did. SPCA is also sending down a van to see if the body can be taken for a post mortem.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to offer to help out with this case.

Meeting and dumping

Off for a town council meeting this morning.

I just spoke with a woman who was saying that she spoke with someone who wanted to relocate the cats in her area. Again, please don't relocate unless (1) there is no other option because chances are slim the cats will stay and (2) unless you are the caregiver or you have spoken with the caregiver.

I spoke with someone who was told by someone else she could take her cats and leave it at a 'cat sanctuary' in someone's colony. I was horrified. This is NOT a sanctuary. The people there are having a hard time and they suspect someone is dumping. Just because the cats are well cared for and looked after does NOT mean it is license to dump some more cats there.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Caregiver and Cat


Caregiver and Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

On the way out, we saw a cat. Here's the caregiver picking up after giving the starving cat some food.

Filing the report

I went with the caregiver to make a police report today. The AVA had come down and taken the body away earlier as well.

At the station, the sergeant taking our statement did not quite know what to do, but he was very honest about it. He said he had never had any experience with these cases and asked what to do. I showed him a copy of the statute and he wrote it down. He also asked for advise on what they ought to do in this case.

He also mentioned that this was a serious crime and that people like this abuser ought to be caught. He advised the caregiver to call if she saw the man and a squad car would be sent down. I told him that she had called yesterday but was told that this was a 'small thing'. The sergeant immediately said that it was not - that it was a serious offence and punishable by law. He also told her to let anyone know that there was a police case lodged on the matter. He said that they had a duty to send a car down to check it out.

A point to note if you're filing reports - it's not a bad idea to write down details before you go to the station. For example, how did you find out about the abuse, who were you with, what time and date it was, where you saw the body, and anything else relevant. If you have any suspects, the name and address or better still photographs. Photographs are always good to have if you have them. It can get pretty confusing if a lot of things happen, so it may be good to write it down first. For example, at this date, and at this time, I received a phone call from X who said that a cat had been killed. I went down and saw (insert description of what you saw).

This is of course a very basic idea of what you want to say, but write it down chronologically or even in point form so you don't get confused. Also check out the road names. For example, you may always think of it as Block 210, but what road is it on? Be precise and give exact details.

Food at Police Station


Food at Police Station
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Guess what the caregiver and I saw at the police station?

Camera

I'm just back from buying a disposable camera and to check in with my email. Heading down now to meet the caregiver.

More cats killed

Another two cats killed at the Jurong East carpark yesterday. As I was speaking with the volunteer, the phone rang and it turned out another body had turned up.

She said they called the police yesterday but the police said it was not within their jurisdiction. They called the SPCA and the SPCA came down, took photos and took the bodies back. I've just been speaking with the SPCA as well.

I spoke to the volunteer who called '999' and she was told this was a 'small matter' and that she should call SPCA.

Reimbursement problems

Poor Rebecca was getting bombarded by someone the whole weekend with SMSes about when they were going to get reimbursed. This from the same people who asked why they had not been paid back within three days and because when I opened the envelope, there was no reimbursement form attached, even though Rebecca and I had both impressed on the caregiver this was important. Worse, there was no address to send the cheque to. Or rather, there was a name, a bank account and no phone number, and the envelope was sent by someone completely different with her address on the bank.

I think we're going to have to make clear that if forms are incomplete, it is going to mean these forms are delayed in reimbursement, or that they cannot be reimbursed at all if the details are not complete and correct.

Also, reimbursement is a privilege. People should not demand it as a right. Seriously, hassling one of the committee members does not mean you're going to get your reimbursement any faster.

So far, we've reimbursed quite a few people with hardly anything more than a minor hiccup - but this one reimbursement has given more headaches then all the rest combined.

ST (21-8-06)

Tine for tougher Laws

Sunday, August 20, 2006

ST article (20-8-06)

Thanks Siva for sending this in.

Aug 20, 2006
SITNews: Animal abusers beware, hunt is on
by Nur Amira Abdul Karim



AFTER years of just writing letters and making passive pleas, grassroots networks of animal activists have decided to take more aggressive action to stop animal abuse.

Two weeks ago, they nailed a suspected cat killer after pressuring a town council to hook up a series of closed-circuit TV cameras in a carpark where the mangled bodies of cats had been found.

Another cat killer was tracked by volunteers in Bedok after they started active patrols.

At first, the animal welfarists handed out fliers and spoke to residents, encouraging them to keep a lookout for the cat killers. They also appealed to the authorities for help. But nothing happened.

Education consultant Sandy Lim, who is in her 40s, said she grew tired of waiting for the authorities to act. She said: 'If the authorities or the public have no interest in ending the killings, then it's really up to animal lovers to help. Body after body was found and still the killer wasn't caught. We couldn't just sit there, do nothing and hope for the police to catch the person.'

Said teacher Rebecca Ng, 34: 'It was quite disheartening to see the bloody paw prints splattered everywhere.'

Miss Lim, Ms Ng and four others - graphic designer Fiona Yuen, 32, IT consultant Lynn Lam, 33, graphic designer Mel Lim, 36, and assistant accounts manager Sharon Lee, 36 - decided they had had enough. They started a nightly patrol and enlisted the help of the neighbourhood cleaners to report the abuse to them. The going was slow and the sleepless nights wore them down but the support they received kept them going.

The Cat Welfare Society stepped in with a $1,000 reward for any witness who would testify against the cat killer, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) funded the printing of the fliers. The women also received $1,200 from online donors, which helped them buy the CCTV cameras.

But their break came when the Marine Parade Town Council agreed to install six closed-circuit TV cameras in a multistorey carpark where several of the mangled bodies had been found over five months. A camera caught the abuser swinging a cat from a rope tied to its neck. Bloodstains splattered the walls of the sixth storey of the carpark in Jalan Dua.

Not long after, they caught their suspect.

Mr Ishak Puteh, 42, a cleaner, alerted cat sleuth Sandy Lim when he found a cat's bloody body on Aug 1. The film footage showed a van, which Ms Lim soon tracked down. She then tailed the driver to his workplace in Eunos and called in the police.

It led to the arrest of a 28-year-old air-conditioning technician, who faces charges of animal abuse. If found guilty, he could be fined up to $10,000, or jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

In the Bedok case in March, another group of sleuths took a census of the cat population and made nightly patrols to protect the creatures. For seven hours a day, they kept watch at void decks, staircase landings and streets until they caught the serial cat killer five months later.

The killer, 42-year-old packer David Hooi, was caught in the act by Miss Ngiam Mui Wah, 46. He was jailed for three months for animal abuse.

Organisations like Action for Singapore Dogs, the Cat Welfare Society, the House Rabbit Society (Singapore), Noah's Ark Lodge and Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) are run mostly by volunteers brought together by their love for animals. And their numbers are on the rise.

Ms Sandy Lim provides food daily for about 60 stray cats and funds their sterilisation. Her efforts and those of others like her have been received warmly by the SPCA, which believes that the recent movement towards grassroots animal activism is a healthy sign that Singapore society is becoming more mature.

Friday, August 18, 2006

And now for something completely different

Here's something funny to start off your weekend :-

Cat obsessed with toilet

Building a nation with HDB Blocks (ST, 18-8-06)


Building a nation with HDB Blocks (ST, 18-8-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is part of the speech Mah Bow Tan gave at the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy yesterday. The whole speech is quite interesting, but a bit lengthy, so I'm posting the part I think is relevant. Hopefully we can look to HDB changing their rules against cats in flats then!

He also mentioned the importance of community - and again, I am sure many people realise that a community is not people and concrete buildings. The Minister himself mentions how it is about building a sense of community - and community involves people interacting with their environment, with their neighbours, with the trees, the birds, and of course the cats.

Mass for the Dogs

Mass for the Dogs

Interesting clip on dogs being blessed at a mass.

Ward details

Just been moving the traps around. They're sitting around my home at the moment because every committee member is going to take a few so they are spread out across the island and it's easier to get the traps to people who need them.

I spoke to Madam Annie Lee. She says that she is feeling much better today. She said that everything had been taken care of and that her medical expenses were all taken care of by insurance.

I asked if it was alright to give out her details as some of you wanted to visit. She said that was fine. Please drop me an email if you'd like to get Madam Lee's details.

New Traps


New Traps
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

New traps are in! Just in time too I think because quite a few people seem to be starting programmes and needing traps.

Traps in van


Traps in van
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It took two trips for the delivery people to bring all the traps down!

Visit

I dropped in to see Madam Annie Lee. She was asleep when I was there, and looked very tired. I called her name but she didn't wake up and I am sure she must be exhausted so I left a card and a little get well fruit basket and left.

Poor woman has been through a lot.

Traps and visit

New traps are arriving this afternoon. I'm heading out now and will also be dropping in on Madam Annie Lim if she's up to receiving visitors.

An appeal

Rebecca and I had a long talk last night as we have been getting some feedback from the vets. We understand that some of the vets have been saying that they are not too happy when people cancel slots last minute - this was a concern raised a little while ago, but it's been raised again.

Rebecca explained that sometimes it cannot be helped because people are trapping the cats the night before. However please do try and bring in the cats if you have made the bookings as far as possible. I know that sometimes you cannot catch them all, but even if say you book four slots, and you bring in one or two, it would be appreciated. The vets don't want to waste the slots (and their time obviously) and I don't think they mind the occasional lapse, but they get annoyed if it's the same people canceling last minute all the time.

Also, sometimes people pass slots around which is fine, but the person booking the slot is ultimately responsible. Someone got a slot, passed it to someone else, and the person went in and kicked up a fuss about refusing to tip the ear. Unfortunately at the same clinic a few days later, someone wanted the vet to stitch her cat back up and return it if it was pregnant - now this also means there is a risk to the cat.

At the end of the day, most caregivers are reasonable and responsible. However because of usually a small minority of people (sometimes even one or two), we have been banned from clinics before. When this happens, the majority suffers.

This does not mean you should expect substandard service - and I don't think this is what the vets are saying at all. However they are giving subsisided rates so they do hope that the caregivers co-operate and make life easier for them rather than adding to their stress.

One vet clinic told me that while people were quick to complain, hardly anyone ever said thank you. Let's try and make the vets feel appreciated for what they do. They are helping out too - and without them, we would not be able to continue.

Another abuser in a car park?

One of the caregivers called today from Jurong. She sterilises the cats in a certain area, but does not feed them as she has her own (multiple) colonies elsewhere and there are feeders in the area.

She realised today that some of the cats went missing and she asked around. The cleaning supervisor said that he had found 3 or 4 cats dead in the multi-storey carpark.

I just spoke with the supervisor and he mentioned that he had found one cat with its head decapitated. He did not sound like he wanted to go to the police, but I left him the caregiver's number and my number to call if he found any more bodies. He said that the bodies were already started to smell when he found them and so he had buried them all.

The caregiver spoke to some of the feeders there but she said they did not seem too interested in doing anything. I've told her that we'll make the reward poster available, and she says she'll keep an eye on the area.

Straits Times (18-8-06)


Straits Times (18-8-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is really bad. Poor lady.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

We're not made of money

After the mediation today, I stopped by the vet to pay a bill. A woman had called Rebecca a few nights ago asking for a foster and I spoke with her after that too. The cat had been run over by a car in front of her and she took the cat home. She told me that she could not afford to pay for it.

I told her that we have limited funds and she could send in the bill. She said she had no money at all. The poor cat was suffering so I told her to take the cat in and I'd sort it out with the vet but that she was ONLY to get an X-ray to assess what needed to be done.

She called after the X-Ray and the prognosis was not good. The cat had suffered nerve damage and would not be able to defecate on its own. It would also never walk again and could only drag itself around by its hind legs. I spoke to the woman and she said that she could not look after it as she had too many cats of her own. She decided she had no choice but to euthanise it. She asked for help with the money for euthanasia. I told her that she could bill that and the X-Ray and ascertained the amount would not be too much though they did not have an exact figure. I also spoke to the vet and told them what we would be paying for - namely the X-Ray and the euthanasia.

I went down to settle the bill this afternoon. Again normally we don't do this - but an exception was made because the cat must have been suffering and we wanted it to get quick medical attention. I almost fainted when I saw the bill because it came to $250 - but of that, $130 went to cremation!

Now it's fine if you want to cremate the cat, and it's absolutely up to you, but that money could have been used by the Society to help another cat that is still alive who needs medical help. It's for this reason we don't pay for cremation. In addition, when I spoke with Rebecca,it turned out that the husband had told Rebecca that money was not a problem for them.

I called the woman up - she claimed she had told the vet she did not want to cremate. The receptionist told me that she had. I called the woman again and told her this and asked why her husband had told Rebecca they could afford it. She claimed it was because he was trying to be 'polite'. She says she'll try and pay us back for some of the cremation fee when she gets some money. We'll see. I guess we'll never know what happened, but I have to say I'm inclined to believe the vet.

Sad to say this is NOT the first time this has happened. In fact, it has happened several times.

One woman left the country and her cats were adopted out to a third party (it's a long story). We heard about it and asked the woman what she wanted done. She said she was far from home and very worried and she wanted her cats back. A foster took in the cats, another drafted the contract to ensure there was no issue about whom ownership of the cats belong to (the woman claimed her family members here did not want to take the cats in case there was an issue of legal ownership). We paid medical bills. I called her overseas. Another volunteer went down to take the cats back. We asked her to just provide food and litter, or if she preferred to send cash which the foster could use to buy food. We kept offering to send the cats to her family members here. The woman promised she'd reimburse everyone.

When the woman came back, she said that she wasn't sure she could take the cats. Then she tried to say that she wasn't sure she should pay. In the end we dug up her email where she promised to reimburse us and she paid up.

The list goes on and on. It sometimes makes you want to say, no exceptions, so we can better help people who legitimately need the help and help the most number of people. We have limited funds - and people forget that when they take money away from us for less then legitimate reasons, that we may not have enough for some other cat. At the same time,we don't want some genuine case to not get the help they need.

Cat in corridor


Cat in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This handsome boy is sterilised. The owner told us that he normally goes out at night (though of course he was out in the DAY when we were there!). We explained why it was very important to please keep the cat in and the owner agreed.

The volunteer asked me why she had not taken the cat in after we spoke with her - I told her it was because she was in all likelihood going to ignore everything we had just said.

Mediating through a gap in the door

A volunteer and I went down to speak with a woman. A complainant had written in to say that her aunt had said that the cat was urinating and defecating in the staircase and corridor and that it belonged to her neighbour. The complainant gave us the neighbour's address. Typically, the aunt wanted to remain anonymous because she did not want to cause problems.

The resident's door was open a tiny gap and she would not come to the door. We ended up having to bend down and peek in through the gap because she would not get up from the floor where she was reading the newspapers at first. She eventually came to the door to take my card and some information. I asked her if she had a cat and she said that she did. I explained several times that we were not there to cause problems or take her cat away, but that we were from CWS and wanted to make sure the cat remained safely with her.

She suggested perhaps we could take the cat away because it wasn't really her cat but her son's. She asked if someone would take it away and put it up for adoption for her because it was very pretty. We asked her to please ask her son to contact me.

We walked all the way downstairs and smelt urine in the corridor next to her flat. On the second floor we spotted a lovely ginger cat, but it doesn't look like it goes up. We asked the resident there to keep the cat in. She pointed several flats to us that all had pet cats on her floor.

Postcards


Postcards
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I thought that having a group of boys, they might not want postcards of cute cats. I was glad to be proven wrong! The postcards were snapped up as they are at every school we talk at!

School Talk


School Talk
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The boys at the school talk I gave this afternoon. It is always interesting how people react to the video on sterilisation, and how some people are more squeamish about the ear being tipped then the sterilisation per se.

Talk and Mediation

Out for a school talk now and then a mediation!

Don't sugar coat it

Anonymous has been playing devil's advocate below and saying that most people know that cats are being killed. I totally agree - but if you ask most people, they don't want to admit it. Anonymous thinks that people are perhaps being diplomatic - I can assure you, that most of these people are FAR from diplomatic. The reason they don't want to admit it is this : - most people don't want to admit they want cats killed. If you ask them point blank, they'll say that they just want the cats taken away, or they don't know what happens to the cats.

My point is this, some people really are ignorant. I know there are because someone who wanted to borrow a trap from the AVA, took the trouble to email me and asked if they really kill the cats for example because she didn't get a straight answer from them - on hearing they did, she returned the trap. Others think that they are taken away to the SPCA where they are adopted. When you speak to them, people from this group stop complaining.

The rest KNOW that the cats are killed, but they are wilfully ignorant. So why are we sugar coating it for them? Have a problem with the cat - don't worry, just call up and borrow a trap, drop it to your house, pick up the cat and you won't need to know what happens. Meanwhile, someone else in the neighbourhood is trapping the community cats, sterilising them to control the population and spending money only to find the cats disappearing.

In the meantime, the problem isn't solved. New cats move in due to the vacuum effect and if defecation is the problem, it continues anyway. So how is the problem solved, except for wasting everyone's money?

If people are fine with it (and there are some), then letting them know the cats are killed isn't going to stop them. The vast majority do not however want to be known as 'cat killers' - so let's not make it easy for them by sharing in the pretence that the cats just go somewhere else nice. Thanks to SARS, quite a few people (including town council officers) ask about the land that the authorities supposedly gave for an animal shelter.

Of course this is not the main reason for the cats not being removed - that is based on the vacuum effect, and on why a proper management programme is the better alternative. What I'm saying is that there is no need to hide it as well that the cats are being killed - TELL people that they are because the AVA certainly doesn't.

Let me put it this way :- if you live on private property, and hornets have built a nest in your garden, your only recourse is to call pest control. None of the government departments will come down and help you to remove hornets for free. Why? Surely, hornets, which can fly and sting, are more of a public threat then cats.

Please ask first

Someone wrote in today to mention that she had found a kitten near her workplace. She said her workplace was not very safe due to heavy machinery, and that she was thinking of relocating it to a colony near her home. She said she had seen community cats and caregivers there. I advised her to check with the caregivers if she had not done so yet.

Relocation is as we know, fraught with difficulties. The existing cats are territorial, and will try and drive the newcomers away. The new cat or cats will also increase the population in the area, and complaints may come in, especially if the existing cats start fighting with the newcomers to keep them out.

Sometimes relocation is necessary despite all this, but please, if you relocate, do ask the caregivers first. They may have very good reasons that they cannot take another cat into their colony. They may know that their cats will not tolerate a newcomer, or that the TC has warned them already that there are a lot of complaints there. So please do ask - just because there are already community cats, it does not mean that the caregivers want another, so check with the caregivers first if it's okay with them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Zoophile?

Someone from a programme wrote in and said they want to do a show on people who love animals and to promote the idea of loving animals and caring for them. She asked if we know any zoophiles who might want to be interviewed. I think she means people who have an affinity for animals, rather then the more common usage of the word! I really don't think we want to be promoting that kind of 'love'! :)

Wrong information

This woman calls and says that she has a problem with the cats defecating on her floor. She says that it is a neighbour's cat. I asked if she could help to check the unit number and she agreed.

Unfortunately she seems to keep getting the unit number wrong. First, it turned out she got the wrong unit altogether. Then she told me that the unit had a big fridge in front of it. Today she said it was a microwave. I told her that there is a volunteer who is going down, but to please not inconvenience her as well as she has already been sent to the wrong unit once.

She gave me the instructions on how to get there but said there was no unit number on the door of the flat - the caregiver confirmed that she now knows which unit that is, but that it's on a different floor from the one the complainant told me about!

Felines and Fractals

For the mathematically inclined (of which I am sadly not of that number, no pun intended) :-

Cats and Fractals

For the rest of us, just enjoy the pretty pictures, which is what I did!

Wasabi


Wasabi
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

While Simon was the picture of friendliness, Wasabi was not quite as welcoming :)

There's no more problem because they took the cat away

i just got back from visiting potential adopters with the adoption volunteer. The potential adopters live in a house and recently lost their pet cat. They called the AVA but the cat had already been put down as it was not ear tipped and they did not call immediately (as I understand it, they are not Singaporeans and were not quite sure what to do).

They saw a cat which they really like but there is some concern as they plan to let the cat out. The foster said they were very nice people, and seemed to really love the cat. The volunteer decided to go down and advise them about fencing up the place. Unfortunately, they decided that they are not able or not prepared to do that.

I asked the couple if they knew whom might have trapped the cat, but they said that the cat did not go beyond two houses down. While the volunteer was speaking with them, I decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood and take a look around. I went to the lane behind theirs and found a gate that was all fenced up (usually a sign of problem with cats), so I rang the doorbell and introduced myself.

A boy ran in and called his father. A man came onto the intercom and spoke with me, but did not come out. I asked him if he had any problems with cats. His reply chilled me. He said that they used to but they 'came and took it away' so they did not anymore.

I told him that I was leaving him my card and to call me if he had any problems at all. He thanked me, but the fact that he would not come out to speak with me at all was worrying. On the way out, I noticed four houses with similar fencing.