Friday, September 29, 2006

Telling different stories to different people

I just got a call from a feeder who said the clinic was going to charge her the full rate for sterilisations. Of course she wanted us to call for her right now. She said she had a 'special arrangement' with the clinic and she did not know why they were not giving her the special rate. She said that this had been the case for a long time and she did not know why they were giving her trouble. The clinic asked her to get CWS to call for her.

I told her that we had no knowledge of any special arrangement. I said that we have been booking slots through CATSNIP for more than a year and everyone has to do that.

She called and said the people she's sterilising for cannot get the special rate, they're poor, etc. I called the clinic to find out what happened. Apparently the clinic has been telling them repeatedly they need to go through CWS, but she has ignored them. She told them she's an old member and can get special privileges according to the clinic.

The clinic gave her a final warning on Wednesday and the same thing happened again today. I told the clinic I was fine with them charging her the full rate, but they said they would give her this last chance.

I called the feeder and she said this was a complicated system, having to call and book first through CWS. I told her there were many other people who needed slots and she could not jump queue like this. She expressed surprise that so many other people were sterilising (which has always been the case with this feeder).

She claimed someone did not have to book and I told her EVERYONE had to book through the system if they want the cheaper rate. She claimed the clinic had never told her about this. She did have the CATSNIP number though.

Frontline tonight

Thanks for the reminder KY and Vegancat. The episode on Animal Abuse is going to air tonight at 10:30 pm on Channel 8. This was the interview they wanted me to do in Mandarin, but which I did in English in the end and it's largely about the Jurong abuse cases from what I've been told.

"I want a reply within three days"

While most potential adopters and fosters are by and large very nice and polite, some people are quite demanding. I had someone who wrote in this morning and gave me her name, but said I was to address her as Ms. so-and-so and then proceeded to mention in her email how much it cost her father to buy her a pedigree cat, where it was imported from, and how people had asked her to pay for sterilisation but she wanted to go to her own vet. I told her we have no issues with whichever vet she wants to go to, but she needs to sterilise the cat.

The adoption volunteer said she got an email from someone saying that she had not yet gotten a reply from the foster. She wrote in again to say she expected a reply from the foster within three days. Faster then some town councils! :)

Working through accounts now.

Spay Day Registration Closed

Okay it's official - we're closing Spay Day registration, a few days earlier then our 1st October deadline because we can't fit in any more cats.

We're sorry we can't accomodate everyone but response has been pretty positive. We're trying to see if something else can be done for the people who don't make the deadline.

One week to Spay Day

I've been updating all the Spay Day slots from the faxes and mail we've been getting and we're running out! As I update the forms, more forms are coming in via fax. We're up to 100 slots, but we actually have slightly more slots then that, so we're trying to accomodate as many people as possible.

One of the newspapers called to check on the details two days ago, and I had to call her back to ask her to say that we have no more slots because in our press release just a few days ago we still had quite a lot of slots. Wiggie says she has been inundated by people calling up.

Thanks to everyone who is offering to help out. One of the transport services people was so kind as to offer to do the transport for just the cost of his petrol.

The next time you get into a taxi


The next time you get into a taxi
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

look out for these brochures!

Thanks to Moove Media for the photos.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Park


Park
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just got back a short while ago from a mediation. Several neighbours had complained about the residents in a flat having a lot of cats and that the smell was terrible.

I went by and the smell was not too bad, but I understand from another neighbour the TC went by to wash the place, and she thinks that they took their cats and dumped them in the park downstairs (the park in the photo).

It seems that every time there is a complaint, they'll dump the cats in the park. The cats then mate, breed and proliferate. In addition, they come down and leave food all over the place.

At first most of the residents wanted the cats removed, but when I explained that if they were sterilised and managed, they would not cause a problem, all were okay. One resident said that the TC should remove the cats - his friend said they had come and there were still a lot of cats so removal wasn't helping. Both agreed sterilisation would be a good idea.

Now let's hope the resident with the cats calls me.

Dealing with unreasonable complainants

I was just drafting an email to confirm what was said at the TC meeting yesterday (and what a long email it was). One thing discussed was unreasonable complaints (which all admitted were the minority) and how they should be dealt with.

For example, what if someone said they did not want any cats there. One of the residents brought up the case of someone who said they were scared of cats. The officer said for example, people might not be able to go upstairs if there was someone scared of cats, or someone might take a spill if they were running away from the cats.

I said that I thought that if someone was genuinely frightened of cats, caregivers would certainly try and help. For example, possibly changing the feeding spot I pointed out that in one case we had a woman who WAS scared of cats, but she didn't want them killed either. I also said that there were people scared of other things too - cockroaches, lizards, etc, and yet the TC was not being asked to get rid of ALL cockroaches or ALL lizards.

I said that it's about working hand in hand - the caregivers will try their best to ensure the cats come into as little contact with the person who is scared of cats as possible. In return however that person has to realise there can never be a cat free estate - no matter whether they like cats or not.

In addition, there is someone who obviously likes the cat as much as the person frightened of cats - and that's the caregiver. So why should the cats be removed without balancing both sides of the equation?

So this is what was decided - a clear line of events should be set out. This would show that the caregivers and TC tried their best to solve the problem in question but that the other party either refused to engage in diaogue or working together, or else was unreasonable. As the town council GM said, they are not maids.

For this reason, if the complainant can be shown to be unreasonable, then the TC can show they DID do something but that the complainant would not be reasoned with. So the TC cannot be accused of not doing their job - nor can the caregivers.

I suggested in my email to them that it would be good to set down events, phone calls , emails, etc to show what action had been taken, and why ultimately it had proven to be futile, so a set of actions could be shown.

Courts to Review Sentencing Guidelines (28-9-06)


ST (28-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Good article - hopefully this will extend to animal abuse cases.

Animal Rights/Neighbour Rights

The Executive Producer of this show called to ask us to appear on the show. She said that she was rather 'affronted' that we declined to appear on the programme. I told her that we were not in any way trying to editorialise, nor had I asked them NOT to include Tony Tan on the programme, but that we were not appearing on the programme because we did not want to pander to complainants who believed that complaining loudly meant they are listened to. This is exactly what we have been telling town councils not to do - and it would be very strange to now go against what we've been saying all along.

Now she says that the new angle is going to be animal rights/neighbours rights. Firstly, I told her that we were not an animal rights organisation. She expressed surprise, so I explained to her what animal rights was versus animal welfare as she was unclear about the difference.

Secondly, I told her that while I understand that the title, has to be, in her words, sexy, we don't feel that there has to be a pitting of one right against the other. It's really a false dilemma - animal welfare if anything, enhances human rights, because it's basically about teaching people to be more compassionate and humane. If you can't be humane and not cruel to an animal that cannot talk or fight back, then what hope will there be against a person who can do both?

She said they would have to say on the programme that we were approached but did not take part. We did just send them a statement to explain why we are not appearing.

She also said that this would be our chance to put our side of the story out, but again, there will be some people who undoubtedly side with Tony Tan, and there are others. Debating (or not even debating because it's filmed separately) someone like Tony Tan isn't meaningful because it doesn't go to addressing any issues if the complainant refuses to talk to you. Apparently Tony Tan said in his interview he refused to speak with us.

They did offer to have a second episode which would be part 2 of this programme, and that we could appear on this second part, without Tony Tan. However the point is not Tony Tan personally at all. It's about the fact that it's still responding to someone who is complaining and not willing to solve this problem.

I was also surprised that the focus of the programme had changed again. I checked what HRSS and ACRES segment would be about but those will just be straight out features on HRSS and ACRES.

So we're still not taking part.

Meeting last night

We had a dialogue session between a town council and the caregivers in an estate last night. This TC has been in the news of late. The GM and an officer represented the TC, an officer from AVA was there and almost 20 caregivers came.

I think it was quite a useful session. We suggested a way to deal with complaints so that cats not be removed that both TC and caregivers found acceptable, namely, that

(1) if a complaint comes in, caregivers are alerted and given a period of time to deal with it;
(2) caregivers let the TC know how it was resolved. As a result, no need for any action on part of the TC;
(3) should the complaint not be resolved and the situation persists, the sterilised cat in question may need to be removed or relocated by caregivers;
(4) if the caregivers do not wish to do so, they will alert the TC who only in this instance, will remove the sterilised cat.

It was also agreed that should any sterilised cat be caught, it should be released by the pest control on the spot. If for some reason it WAS taken to the AVA, the TC should make arrangements to have it released to the caregivers. CWS is supposed to be the liaison between TC and the caregivers.

A resident raised the question of anonymous complaints and the TC said they would give these complaints less weight, which is great to hear. The TC also said that if the programme works well, there is no reason it cannot go on indefinitely.

The TC also suggested working with the RCs which is a great idea. I hope this marks the beginning of a good working relationship between the TCs and the residents.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mediation and Meeting

I just spoke with the complainant and explained that I had gone down and flyered units and managed to find out that one of the neighbours was feeding, and that someone else on the other end of the block was also letting the cat out. She thanked me and said I had been very helpful, which is nice to hear.

I do hope they keep the cat in. He's very handsome and friendly and if they keep him in, the problem should stop.

Meeting with a town council tonight.

Cat on staircase


Cat on staircase
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went for a mediation this afternoon because someone complained about a cat going downstairs - here's the culprit. He was waiting for someone and I followed him up where he ran up to a woman in the corridor. I spoke with her and she said the cat belonged to a friend. I also noticed she had cat hair on her shirt.

Press Release for Spay Day

JaQ has done up the Press Release for Spay day and I'm sending it out now to the different media.

Petitions

Someone asked about petitions below with regards to the HDB. It's good to hear people want to write in and people are asking what's the best way of sending in a petition.

For the HDB for example, we had 3000 people sign physical letters in 3 weeks and were told that wasn't representative. What I would suggest is to actually send in emails individually if possible, or with small groups of friends, and that you include your full names and NRIC numbers in those emails.

I know that sometimes people do start petitions on websites with links to ask people to sign up. It's great that people feel strongly enough to do it, and to see how many people sign those petitions. It does show as an indicator how people feel about a situation.

The only thing is I don't think those petitions are taken very seriously by authorities. For one thing, most of them don't require full names and NRIC numbers so they're easy to dismiss in terms of credibility. I'm not even certain that for example that they are actually looked at by the authorities if someone does send them the URL, in any way more than a cursory glance.

What I think IS more effective is to write emails and snail mail. The reason I suggested writing individually or with small groups of friends is that people often feel slightly different about a certain situation - so it's good to have different voices speak up about it in their own words. Even if you do use someone else's letter, it does look like you did look through it and agree with it enough to put your full name and NRIC number on it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Van


Van
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw a van yesterday but the same people volunteering to loan us a van for Spay Day are offering this one now instead. It's much bigger - you can see the cat trap I put in to measure it!

I only want the solution I want to hear

You know I write about complainants who don't want to listen to reason and will keep asking for another solution because the solutions you have given is not the solution they want. So all the different things you throw up are just not what they want to hear.

The same thing also happens of course for feeders. I just spoke with one who lives in a condo. She mentioned she had called me a few months ago. At the time I asked her about setting up a programme but she kept insisting her condo was anti-cat. It turns out there is only one sterilised cat there and another cat just came in and gave birth, so she wants to know what to do with the kittens.

I told her that it still comes down to setting up a programme because if not, new cats are going to have to be handled if she removes these. I said I highly doubted there was only one cat in the entire estate - more cats must be coming in and perhaps she just didn't know about it. The management knows she feeds some cats (two of which were killed) and they are okay with it but she doesn't want to approach them officially, because they all 'hate cats'. She asked if I could believe that they kept count of the cats on the estate and I told her that I would be surprised if they DIDN'T. She also said people complain and the MC will react - and I told her that of course they will, but it's about making sure she is able to help with complaints.

I told her that one condo we worked with started off fining people who fed the cats and now have a cat cafe programme. I asked her what how much more 'anti-cat' that could be. I said the main thing was there was a programme. Then she said she is the only person there, they must have more support, etc. I told her it was essentially two or three people who wanted to set up a TNRM programme. She said she was the only one. She could not go against all the anti-cat people herself, etc. I told we would be happy to go with her and see her management if she liked.

Then she said that was the long term and she was worried about right now. She is worried about the kittens. She wants someone to take them. She says she cannot leave them there as she saw a little boy trying to do something to them but she won't mention it to the Management committee because otherwise they'll notice the cats. She did go over however and scold the little boy and his mother.

I explained we only have three or four fosters and they're full. Since she insists they cannot stay, I suggested putting them up for adoption and that she could foster them in the meantime. She said she is not single and unmarried and has 20 cats and children she cannot take anymore in. I suggested boarding if she is very keen. She says she is not keen on this. Then she said adoption is not an option because they're not socialised.

So basically what she wanted was that CWS would take the cats off her so she can continue to complain about her management and neighbours, while we handle her feral kittens, socialise them and get them adopted out for her. Unfortunately as I did not provide this solution to her, she said there was no solution given.

Responsible feeding


Responsible feeding
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

That's a lot of food - but the cat is being fed neatly on paper as you can see.

Animal Vigilantes

I was supposed to be filmed this morning for an interview on a current affairs programme. However, the producer called last night to tell me that they were going to have Mr Tan on their programme (incidentally they never did publish our reply to his letter).

I told her that I did not want to appear on the same programme with him because it is giving credence to someone who is essentially just complaining a lot (and not just about cats). We have said all along that we don't want to encourage people who get attention just because they are complaining the loudest and the longest. Apparently he is not happy with the government agencies for not responding to him either.

I understand the need for different viewpoints, and certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there can only be a meaningful discussion if (1) people are interested in engaging in dialogue and (2) that people are willing to listen. For example, if people say to me, I don't care what studies say or what science has shown, because I just don't, that's generally a sign to me that the meaningful discussion has ended.

She said that the programme would be a good way to air our views to the general public. She said that people may sympathise with what Mr Tan has to say. Certainly they may, but at the end of the day, people like Mr Tan aren't going to be convinced of what we say anyway.

I told the producer that for example if someone is a bigot, they may argue that people of such and such a race are all stupid. Now you can point out all the contrary examples, you can cite studies, but how do you refute something which has no basis in anything but their own opinion? Then why continue to engage people like that and allow them to air their views?

In addition, the programme she said is about animal vigilantes though she has clarified this is her working title. We are not vigilantes. We're not even an animal rights group but an animal welfare one. She did ask why I'm uncomfortable with the term. The fact is that I am - the term denotes someone who takes matters in their own hands, operating outside the law.

CWS on the other hand, believes strongly in working with the authorities. We have always believed in engaging the authorities. We do not operate outside the framework of the law.

At the end of the day, the programme is going to be edited and we have no control over the content. Of course this is the same with any television programme but in the others we've worked on, we've been happy with the general approach of the script.

There will always be people who think animal welfare people are crazy. It's a fact. What we can do is behave in a manner that will show to the objective person that we're reasonable and logical. Are there people in animal welfare who are illogical and a bit off-centre? Of course there are - but there are people like that in every field or occupation or job.

You can only appeal to someone's logic if they are willing to listen and they are able to assess the argument for themselves in a reasonable manner. I believe this is the vast majority of people. Appearing on television is a means to an end - and that's of educating people on TNRM. There are other means to do so, and even if they don't have the same reach, a smaller people with the right message may be more important than a wider group that may go away with the wrong idea.

A community working together

I went for a meeting last night where caregivers, the RC and the TC were all involved to see what more could be done for the cats in the area. The different groups already work together in this area. I showed the video on the cat cafe and also the Alley Cat Allies DVD. The people at the meeting found both videos very educational.

They have decided to put the plans for the cat cafe on hold at the moment while they sort out some other issues (and the caregivers are not all that keen on one anyway because right now their system is working quite well). What was very interesting was what was discussed and the amount of co-operation.

For example, there is a sub-committee within the RC that deals with cats and is helmed by an RC member who is herself a caregiver.

Another caregiver is also very good at getting other residents in her community involved. Both caregivers speak and to people as they do their rounds. When one of them (the non-RC member) found an area to be littered with leftover food, she took a novel approach - she convinced the people sitting around in the void decks to help her clean the area up. The littering stopped.

The town council officer said that since he started working with them, he has found the area to be much cleaner. They have less complaints as a result. He said that it was good to see that they had contained and managed the community cat population.

Also in the course of discussion, matters were clarified - for example, animal hoarding. Many other cases of hoarders were raised and discussed - the RC Advisor mentioned for example, they had someone who hoarded so much newspaper, that the resident could only open the door a crack and needed to climb in over it to get into his own home. I think it gave a better conception of the problem to the RC and TC and they also realise it is not just an 'animal' issue from their experience.

Issues like abandonment were discussed, with the TC officer agreeing that if the HDB changed their rule it would really help. They said right now, once the warning letter is issued, a lot of cats are dumped. The RC Advisor then said that they would also write a proposal to query if the rule could be changed.

Ideas of having more outreach programmes to the residents were broached as well through the RC.

It's really great to see what can be achieved when a community works together. I think everyone left the meeting feeling glad to have had an exchange of ideas, and there was a sense of everyone working together. Let's hope this can be replicated all over the island!

Cat in playground


Cat in playground
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went for a meeting last night and saw this cat. He's recently been dumped according to the volunteer I spoke with.

Monday, September 25, 2006

RC Meeting

Going for an RC meeting tonight about a cat cafe.

Why don't you stop AVA from killing the cats that I send to them?

I just spoke with a guy who trapped a community cat in the area. It turns out he runs a child care centre and some of the cats come in at night. He says they have been defecating in the area.

He said he has a large garden and that he cannot keep them out with strings. I suggested using the Scarecrow, but he has no hose in the area he says. He also said he did not want to worry about the water bill.

I suggested using a spray, but he said they had used sprays on the monkeys. No idea what sprays, but he didn't want to try it.

Then I suggested that the caregiver would be more than happy to come over and pick up the defecation. He said that he cannot do that because it might be inconvenient for him. There might be safety issues or she might forget to close the gate. I told him that she lived just a few houses down, and that of course she could come by whenever is convenient for him. I said I suggested he be there to let her in but that she could come by whenever he called to ensure the place is clean.

He said that he did not want to inconvenience her because he wasn't paying her. I told him that he should put that out of his mind as she was happy to do it. Furthermore, trapping her cats was inconveniencing her far more than that.

Then he mentioned that it might be inconvenient for him. I told him that considering he can call her whenever he comes in and she'll be right over, I didn't think it would be too much trouble. Plus, she lived just a few houses down.

Then he went into a long rant about training the cats. He said that like children, they must be trained, so they don't take drugs (!). I told him there was a big difference between home cats and community cats, and that these were not owned cats. He kept insisting they were owned cats because they looked well fed.

My favourite moment was when he said he could keep sending the cats to the AVA. I told him the cats were being killed without a solution in sight as there would still be defecation. He said however that AVA should not be allowed to kill cats. He said that animal welfare groups should stop AVA from killing cats. I said that as long as he keeps sending cats in, they'll kill them!

I told him that since of course, he said he liked animals in a way, that he should look at alternatives that stop the defecation but still allowed the animals not to be killed.

Then at the end, he said he would think about it and get back to me. He said possiblty the manual cleaning would be the best option.

Cookies


Cookies
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to meet a nice couple who wanted to borrow cat traps for Spay Day and the lady passed me these really lovely cookies! Very sweet of them.

Van

Off to drop some traps and look at a van someone may be able to loan us for Spay Day!

Spay Day, 6th October 2006

Two people pointed out they weren't exactly sure when Spay Day was so it's next Friday, 6th October 2006.

It's turning out to be quite the little tactical operation. Thank you so much to everyone who wrote in to help transport cats. We do need volunteers to help tag and transport and return the cats in the evenings, so we appreciate all the help everyone is offering!

The Spay Day team will need to sit down with the volunteers to brief the volunteers and also to sort out which cats go where. We're also preparing for things like first ad kits and the like in the meantime.

Sunday Times (24-9-06)


Sunday Times (24-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Interesting article from the Sunday Times yesterday. I'm glad to see what the PM said about Singaporeans acting in the best interests of Singapore.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Do you know this Man?


Do you know this Man?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the photo from the New Paper today of the man who kicked the cat. If anyone knows who he is, please come forward. He callously kicked and probably seriously injured the cat in the video. Such behaviour cannot and should not ever be tolerated - especially when the violence was filmed so callously. Someone knows this man and the more people who look out for him, the better the chances of finding him.

Kitty Kick and Click continued (TNP, 24-9-06)


Kitty Kick and Click (TNP, 24-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

"Kitty Kick and Click" (TNP, 24-9-06)


"Kitty Kick and Click" (TNP, 24-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

While TC officers sometimes get bad press, I think it's great to see it was a TC officer who called in this video.

TNP (24-9-06)


TNP (24-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Friday, September 22, 2006

That's dedication

I've been calling around to see how we can rent vans to use for Spay Day in case the pet transport people cannot take so many cats. Thanks to Mezzo for writing in to offer to help drive some cats around!

It also really goes to show the dedication of some of our volunteers. Rebecca was online today and had been calling clinics, so I was wondering why she wasn't at work. She just mentioned that her grandfather had passed away. The hardworking girl she is though, she's been running up from the wake to call clinics and make sure that everything is going well. When I told her that she should concentrate on that, she said that she had some free time and could help make sure everything was going smoothly for Spay Day.

I'm sure I speak for us all when I say that we send our condolences to Rebecca and her family.

On a happier note, Jolanda sends her greetings from Mexico. She and Jan, her husband, say to say hello to everyone. She and Jan have been following the news about Singapore via the blog as well. She's waiting for her cat trap to arrive so she can start sterilising over there too!

Spay Day transport

Wiggie, Nan Nan and Rebecca have been working out the logistics of Spay Day. About a quarter of the slots have been booked via fax (more should come in with the mail). One thing we've been considering is transport. We're arranging four pick up points but the problem is that obviously people need to get to these pick up points - we tried to have them spread out throughout the island, but it will be a of a travel for some people no matter what.

The pet transport people also are not quite sure how to charge us as this is going to involve several stops along the way. As there are 15 vets, and the cats all have to be in at a certain time, we need to make sure that they can all get in at the right time.

One thing we're wondering is if anyone with a car might mind helping out and say picking cats up from certain neighbourhoods and picking them up at the end of the day. It could well be your own neighbourhood of course - the cats have to be in from 8 - 9 am and picked up between 6:30 - 8:30 pm so you could drop them off before work and picked up after. We're still working on this and of course it depends if anyone can help.

Cats Protection League brochure


Cat Protection League brochure
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I picked up this brochure when I was in the UK earlier this year. They mentioned that some people were reluctant to adopt cats when they were older because it might be difficult to care for the cat in the event something happened to them. Cats Protection undertook to take care of a cat, or two, should that happen. Good arrangement!

TNP (22-9-06)

Thanks Vegancat for sending this in. I was just speaking with one of the producers the other day about how cats can be such comfort to seniors who are living alone - or anyone living alone for that matter :-

It's Purr Trigger Memory

A woman I know suffering from depression said for example, that she got up in the morning because she had to feed her cats. If not there was no reason to get up at all. Another woman I know living on her own told me that without her cats, there was no reason to keep living - her children no longer visited her, she had mild schizophrenia, and her cats were the one constant in her life. Another woman adopted some cats to keep her husband company - her husband has Lou Gehrig's disease and the cats keep him company.

Your chances of surviving a heart attack are better if you have a pet. You are less likely to be stressed. So hug your cat or dog today!

$13000 poster


$13000 poster
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

While dropping off posters at the vet, I saw this poster. Now if only they would have one telling people how much they spend to kill cats, and what can be done about it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I won't sterilise because....

I just spoke with someone who is selling her pedigree cats. One of the caregivers saw her poster up in a pet store and was appalled so she called me. It turns out her mother cat is giving birth again and so she wants to sell the kittens she has. The caregiver said they are so pretty someone will definitely buy them - and she's worried they will go to a bad home.

I spoke with the girl, and told her to please firstly, be careful when adopting the cats out. I told her that not every home is going to be a good home. Secondly, I asked her if she would please consider sterilising her cats, and just when you think you've heard it all, something surprises you. She said she could not sterilise them because when her parents sterilised their cats, the fur fell off. She said this happened with one of their dogs too. So she's convinced that sterilisation has to do with it.

I explained that fur dropping can be due to diet, to fur mites, or even stress. I said that the cat which wasn't sterilised, might have been terrorising the rest for example, and the rest were so stressed they lost their fur (the unsterilised cat by the way was killed when it ran out of the house and so lived a shorter life then the rest).

I also explained the health benefits of sterilisation and offered to send her our brochure but she said she knew all about it having had animals all her life. She also said she would not be able to cope when the cat keeps giving birth. However, she said sterilisation is irreversible and might make the fur drop.

I told her to check with her vet about that, but I also told her that there were many cats killed every day because of the overpopulation of cats, besides all the postive benefits of sterilisation. I also told her unsterilised cats look more haggard in general - I told her that they had no choice but to go on heat, and it was like being pregnant every two months for the cat's life.

She said she would think about it, but I don't think she sounded convinced.

Besides the fact that I really don't think there's a link between her cats losing their fur and the sterilisation, I am pretty horrified she thinks this is a good reason NOT to sterilise. Even if it were true, so the cat doesn't look so pretty - the fact that it's not going to have more kittens you can't cope with, that they don't go to bad homes, that it lives longer, that it's healthier, that you don't add to overpopulation, etc is not enough to balance that it doesn't look as NICE?

My headache just got a lot worse.

Reward or no reward?

The reporter from the newspaper called to ask if we wanted to put up a reward for the person who was filmed kicking the cat in the video. Some of the committee discussed this via email and it was a tough decision with different members coming to different conclusions. We put it to a vote in the end.

On one hand, it might bring someone forward who saw it. On the other hand, who knows WHO will come forward? Besides the person filming the video who might decide to claim if the sum was great enough (though it could be worded to prevent that from happening), it just seems that the guy's face is so clear on the video. It would be good if someone came forward just because it is the right thing to do - not because there is a monetary reward. I suppose that generally in abuse cases, we find it so hard to find someone who saw it happening and a reward is necessary in that case because the chances of finding anyone who saw it is small. That person might be induced by a monetary reward for example. In this case, the guy's face is clear. If it's put in the newspaper, on the Net, etc - someone will recognise him, be it a friend, ex-school mate, colleague etc. I really hope that someone will just see it and come forward because it's the right thing to do, not because there was money involved.

I have to move, I'm putting my cats down

Just had a long phone conversation with someone whose block may be sold in an en bloc sale. She said that she is not sure where she is moving to, and as a result, she wants to let me know she's going to put down all her cats if the sale goes through.

I told her that a lot of people have faced similar situations, and that ultimately of course it's her decision, but that one thing to consider is that these aren't home cats. No matter how friendly they are, they are community cats. They may live in a protected estate, but still they are cats living on the streets and they do have the instincts.

She insisted that they are very sweet cats and won't be able to survive, but I told her that at the end of the day, if she puts them all down, they're all 100% dead. If she leaves them, they have a chance to survive. They can run to the nearby areas to look for food, they're all sterilised. Yes some of them may not make it, but some of them will.

She said that she can't bear the thought of them possibly coming to a bad end on the streets. I told her that at the moment, she still can't tell what will happen to them. They live in an estate yes, but they may get abused, run over, have an accident, or just die mysteriously. She can't watch them 24 hours a day. Yet they've lived there happily for many years.

I do know of people who moved out or moved away and left their cats, or the area the cats lived in was demolished. I'm sure it is an absolutely worry for them every single day - but many of those cats are still there.

Again, I can understand her worry and not being able to see her cats every day (though possibly she could travel there and watch over them). I can also see the cats are going to be bewildered and frightened when the estate undergoes changes. Some cats will adapt though, and some cats won't. They may die - but they would have a fighting chance.

It's a hard call.

Cat walking around


Cat walking around
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went for a mediation because someone had written in to say her friend was living in a flat where the cats kept walking in. I went down and didn't see any cats at that block, but spotted this guy at the block across. I spoke with his caregiver and gave her some information about sterilisation and asked her to please consider it.

Within ten minutes she called to ask how to go about it.

ST (21-9-06)


ST (21-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's a photo of the kitten.

Out for mediation now if the phone will stop ringing! :)

ST (21-9-06)

Thanks Vegancat for sending this in. I have to say I have never understood why some people derive satisfaction from dyeing animals. I think dogs look much prettier their natural colour then say purple! Then again people do dye their hair and some of them do look very nice.



A stray white kitten was found dyed completely in permanent orange.

Mr Kamarrudin, a cleaner, noticed the four-month-old kitten wet and shivering near a drain opposite Siglap Shopping Centre on Monday.

He contacted SOS Animals founder Sandy Lim, who took it to a vet. It was not abused in any other way, but it is not eating well.

Ms Lim said: 'It may seem like an amusing prank but we should not subject animals to any colouration or body art.

'People shouldn't be allowed to pick up a stray and do whatever they like to it.'

SOS Animals is asking anyone with information to call its hotline on 9849-6748.

Spay Day update

For a while we were wondering why it was so quiet about Spay Day and then 9 consent forms came in by fax this morning which is great!

We've still to confirm one pick up location but otherwise the rest are confirmed. We have 4 pick up locations throughout the island and we are arranging for co-ordinators from those areas to let us know where the vans are to meet.

Anyone can take part, but you do need to drop the cats at the pick up locations because it will be too confusing for the vets if the cats go in at different times and with different people because we're talking pretty big numbers here for some vets. Also, the cats MUST be in proper carriers - we don't want a cat bursting out and escaping.

Also because not all vets can do female cats, we need to limit the slots to 1 male and 1 female OR 3 males per person.

Will be dropping off the last few posters this morning and heading out for a mediation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Don't antagonise

I had a fairly long talk with a woman who called this evening - someone sent me a link from one of the pet forums to say she needed help because she was helping some other people to sterilise the cats. She said that the area has tons of people feeding - but no one sterilises. When she first saw the cats, she said there were perhaps 40 cats, now there are at least 70 over 10 blocks. She is keen to start but needs to know if she can get some help. When we talked I realised this was one of the areas that another feeder had called about. She hadn't sterilised but she kept feeding and the population kept growing, but she refused to sterilise. Now with this new woman starting a programme, it looks like the cats are going to start getting sterilised!

I also spoke with another feeder - she said someone left a note threatening to poison the cats in an area she feeds in. None of the cats are sterilised. She said that she had been feeding there for years without a problem till now.

I told her that while that was illegal, and these people should definitely be stopped, because there is no excuse to poison the cats, she also needs to sterilise the cats, because the population keeps growing. She said she had too many cats to sterilise - sadly, it's the same problem again. I told her to just handle what she could then and not keep feeding if she cannot cope. The problem is, with better food and nutrition, more cats are born and there are then more cats - which means more cats for people to abuse. Also, if it's the same people living there all along, this may be a case of them getting more and more irritated - and deciding to threaten the feeder because they want her to stop. No cats have been poisoned I must emphasise - it may be a threat to scare the feeder off. This was not the first note - apparently an earlier note had been left there asking her to stop feeding which she ignored. Unfortunately this time, the feeder left a note warning the person about poisoning being a crime(which was sensible and a good idea) but also calling them names (which was not). It would have been better to explain she would sterilise and would manage the population. Aggrevating the person is not going to help the cats.

No sale of live animals


No sale of live animals
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just went to drop more posters today - we're ALMOST done with the posters and about time too :)

I saw this pet shop and dropped a poster by them too. I'm so happy more shops have signs like this!

Luin


Luin
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Luin the producer, whom I just had a really long chat with. Poor Luin has been bombarded with tons of information!

Looks like I may be filming on Friday morning to talk about my work with CWS and what the Society stands for. She's asked if it's possible to film me in a meeting, so I'm asking for permission for that. She's also talking to ASD, ACRES and HRSS.

Off to go drop some posters now to the clinics.

Cat sitting on street


Cat sitting on street
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to drop some merchandise to someone who very kindly gave us a big donation on top of the items she bought. Here's one of her community cats - not at all bothered by the dogs that were just behind the gate a metre away.

Running errands

Heading out now - have to drop off some merchandise, drop off some more posters and meet the producer for the tv programme. More later!

Thanking helpful officers

I've just been on the phone with a caregiver who was telling me that she is very happy with her town council. She told me that she used to have a very bad impression of her TC and used to say they had no compassion at all. Along with her other friends, they would berate the town council and say talking to them was no use when their cats were caught. I remember it was very difficult to get them to want to see their TC at the beginning.

Finally, they decided they needed to engage the TC and when they did, they saw a huge change. She said that instead of finding bureaucrats devoid of compassion, they were actually pretty nice people. She explained to them that just because there were one or two complaints did not mean all the cats in the area should be caught. She said that some people complained repeatedly for example. The officer agreed.

She said that since then she and her friends have never had too many problems. She discussed it with the other caregivers and they all agreed they're very happy with the TC. She wanted to ask me if we could put a note on our website to thank the TC.

I told her that some of the town councils aren't too comfortable with the positive publicity too. They are worried that other areas might see them as a dumping ground for one thing. I suggested that she might consider sending them a thank you card instead. She said this was a good idea and they would do that.

While we must not be afraid to speak up, when praise is due, we should be quick to acknowledge that too. If you have a good TC officer who works well with you, why not drop them a note to thank them? It can be a simple card, an email or even a phone call. I'm sure that they would appreciate it.

If you live in a condo with a nice MC, or a housing estate with a helpful residents' committee, or have nice conservancy workers, etc, why not thank them too? I am sure they get a lot of complaints but very few thank yous.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Press

We're getting a lot of reporters calling today for some reason. One is from a current affairs department, and two from different newspapers about different topics (the abuse case and about local NGOs). Been preparing responses with JaQ's help. I've explained twice today that we are not an animal rights group, but an animal welfare one.

Video of man kicking cat

I just saw a most disturbing video that was sent to me by one of the newspapers. It shows this friendly cat going up to a guy in a void deck. The cat walks in front of the guy and the guys sort of lines the cat up in front of his foot. He then pulls back his leg and kicks the cat. The cat goes flying in the air over a distance of a few metres.

The guy filming it on camera is heard laughing and asking the abuser how he feels and the abuser gives the cameraman the thumbs up and smiles, as he says he feels 'good'. There is a good shot of the abuser's face.

I called the reporter up but she says they have no idea where the clip came from originally. They said that the clip was sent in by a concerned reader. Hopefully if the newspaper runs the photo of the guy, someone will recognise him.

Notebook


Notebook
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Tarsier Girl just passed me this notebook. Isn't it funny that the cat is sitting on the car happily and that it's seen to be a good thing?

Residents getting involved

I just spoke to two caregivers today who wanted us to put up posters on animal abuse. They said that they felt that if CWS did it, it would stop people from abusing animals. One of these ladies said she saw students beating the cats, and she wanted to stop them by putting a notice on the poster saying that she would call the police the next time.

I told her that it was unlikely a threat to call the police the next time is going to work. The most important thing is to call the police when she sees them abusing the cats right away. Telling someone you are going to call the police the next time makes them feel it is an empty threat and may in fact embolden them. She felt that having a CWS logo would frighten people but I really don't think that's true.

The same thing happened with the caregiver I just spoke with. She feels putting up a poster telling people that abuse is a crime may help and again that if CWS puts it up, it will have a greater deterrent effect.

At the end of the day, CWS is an organisation that is as strong as the people who make up the Society. I honestly don't think people are frightened of CWS - but I do think that if a resident speaks up and isn't afraid to call the police when they see abuse, that that it will help to stop the abuse right then. It will also let potential abusers know that someone is watching out in the estate and isn't scared to act on it. Both of these are certainly more effective than a poster on a board. If residents are prepared to get involved and be active, that will be the most effective means of stopping abuse.

"Don't worry CWS will do it"

Today is one of those days where the phone just rings non-stop and I hang up a call just to have someone else call two seconds later (or while I'm still on the last call). One was to arrange a meeting, someone else wanted a reward poster, a third person wanted to check on Spay Day, etc.

One of the caregivers who called me wanted to tell me that unfortunately in Jurong another two cats went missing two days ago. She is quite worried and the cats have not shown up. She said that the feeders there had not informed her until she asked that another of the cats had gone missing a while ago. She is wondering whether the abuser has killed these cats too.

She also told me how frustrated she was at some of the feeders. She said they could not be bothered to keep a good eye out for the cats. In addition, she was telling me that one of the feeders keeps telling her not to bother to do anything - she should get CWS to do it.

She says that she encouraged this person to join as a member but he said that CWS had enough money. Now it's fine if people don't want to join as members, especially if they can use the money directly on the cats instead, but we do need funds - and we're not by any measure well off, though thanks to donations, we're doing okay at the moment (and when I say okay, I mean that the whole amount in the bank is less than what a friend of mine spent on his car recently). If people keep asking us to help, we do need funds in order to help them. I do know some people help in terms of money because they can't help in kind - and that money should be used hopefully to help those with the least means, or who are sterilising large colonies.

She also said, and this is more worrying, that the feeder cannot be bothered to handle complaints now. She said if the cats are caught, he expects CWS to help them get the cats back (and we have done so before). He has found it so easy that she said she was told that he no longer thinks he needs to deal with complaints. Sigh.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Donation for Spay Day

A lovely couple who wish to remain anonymous have just written in to offer $1000 to defray the costs of Spay Day! Thank you very much!

Why SCRS 'failed'

My brain is fried because I've been trying to work out reimbursement claims and working on a paper.

Interestingly, one thing that has popped up a few times is why the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme (SCRS) started by the AVA failed. Today, someone mentioned the cancellation in one of the comments to an earlier post. First things first, I don't think SCRS failed. I DO think that there are things that could have been corrected and refined about it to make it better, but it WAS a good programme in essence. In 2002, four years after the programme was started, the number of cats killed in Singapore, dropped for the first time in 20 years to 10000 from the usual 13000. In 2003, the programme was cancelled, and the number went up again.

So what happened to the SCRS and why it got cancelled? Besides the name which I have to say I never really liked - it conjured images for me of cats being sent to the gulag for hard labour! - the programme was sound.

The main reason it got cancelled was SARS. The programme had it's failings (and which progamme gets it right the first time) but it would have gone on if not for SARS. If SARS hadn't happened (and the hysterical responses subsequently), I honestly don't think SCRS would have been cancelled. It may have still run into problems, but I don't think it would have been scrapped outright. A case of a good idea but just plain bad timing I think.

Secondly, improper understanding of SCRS. Yes it emphasises sterilisation, but it also had management as a component, but that wasn't really clear. I just got off the phone a short while ago with a woman who said her town council officer told her that they could never get rid of sterilised cats in the estate because of the programme. What some officers thought was that once the cats were sterilised, that was the end of it. If other residents had problems, there was nothing they could do. They just had to keep bearing with complaints, while nothing was done and they kept getting heaped with abuse. Now I'm sure at least some of these officers used this as an excuse, but I know some genuinely frustrated officers said that they could not do anything about nuisance cases once the cat was sterilised. They didn't realise that there was a management component that allowed them to refer the complaints to the caregivers.

Some officers also felt they weren't consulted on the programme. It IS great to have official support for the programme (and I think that would be the single biggest thing that would help really). At the moment though, town councils and residents work out how they are working together - so hopefully town councils will feel more consulted too (though why they don't feel 'forced' to work with difficult complainants on the other hand, is beyond me).

At the same time, officers thought that people would be bringing cats in from other areas. To them, all 'cat lovers' want more cats - and there are more cats in the estate. Ergo, these 'cat lovers' are importing cats from other estates. I just saw this in a letter sent to the town council on Friday from a complainant asking that CWS stop being allowed to release cats all over the place!

Of course what they didn't realise is that while there are undoubtedly a small minority who do bring cats in, most of the cats that make up the increase are due to abandonment. And they didn't understand it was Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage.

Which leads to problem three - nothing was done about abandonment. So the cat population, while sterilised, kept growing. This meant that people were wondering why TNRM was not working. If the cats were sterilised, why did the population continue to grow?

Problem four was that some caregivers got complacent - since the cats were sterilised, they could not be caught, so a small group of them just sat back and didn't manage the population. Some stopped sterilising, and I know some told the officers that they could never remove the cats because they were sterilised - without any proper management.

Problem five - no proper statistics were kept. So few people knew if the programme was working. Were there more cats, were there less? Were there fewer complaints? No one really knew. So it was hard to prove the programme WAS working.

There are problems other reasons why the programme didn't work, but these are at least the main ones I think cause the programme to not be as successful as it could be. We'll need to keep this in mind when starting up programmes and try not to repeat our mistakes.

Cat figurines


Cat figurines
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Adrian and Meow kindly let me take some photos of their cat collection when I dropped the trap off on Friday.

Trapping cats again

I've been told that this guy is trying to trap cats again. Two of the residents in his estate contacted me to tell me that they saw traps out on a Friday and Saturday and asked what would happen to the cats since the AVA is closed. I asked if anyone in the area saw the cats in the traps and so far none have gone in, but one of them told me that she can't be sure that the cats are all being sent into the AVA.

The two residents are going to try and approach their residents' association. If anyone lives in Seletar Heights estate, drop me an email please as the caregiver there has asked if anyone living there might want to help her approach the residents' association to suggest putting in place a TNRM programme.

"I can't speak English"

I got a call from one of the caregivers who always starts off by telling me she cannot speak English - and I've been talking to her for at least 3 years now. She'll then proceed to speak with me for the rest of the conversation in English - and yes, it's not grammatically correct, but it gets the point across, which I've told her many times.

The thing is - it doesn't matter if you can speak the language perfectly. The thing is to get the message across - and this woman does. It's the same with letters, I often get calls from people saying that they want me to write a letter for them in English to their MPs, but that they cannot write very well in English. It doesn't matter. Just write it anyway! It's much more important to put across the message in your own words - whether that be in English, in Mandarin, or whatever language it is you're comfortable in. As I mentioned the other day, town councils are careful about making sure no one feels discriminated against in terms of language, so they're not going to chuck your letter out because it's not written in English.

I realise that there is a language barrier for some caregivers, but the main thing is not to be frightened or intimidated by it. Just try your best to express yourself and that honesty will carry through.

The best thing you can say about my Mandarin is that it's enthusiastic - when I first started out with CWS, I used to get the words for 'suspicious' and 'pregnant' mixed up, so I would ask someone if they were suspicious of a certain person, and it came out with me asking if the woman was pregnant with that person. So far, no one has taken offence because I think most people see that I'm trying to communicate.

One of the nicest things I've seen is Jolanda and one of the dedicated caregivers we know. Jolanda doesn't speak much Mandarin, and the woman hardly spoke any English, but they communicated and worked together just fine.

Having someone else write your letter for you loses that unique flavour which only YOU can put in it, and that's quintessential part of you is the most important thing you can put in it.

"Caregivers end up cleaning othre peoples' mess too" (Today 18-9-06)

Letter I sent in.



We refer to Mr John Ang's letter. Responsible feeding is part of what every responsible caregiver practices.

However, there are some people who will not listen and whom the caregivers wish to stop as much as Mr Ang does.

Their actions dirty the environment, making it unpleasant for the people, and downright dangerous for the cats who get blamed for it and killed as a result.

Mr Ang might also like to know that in general, cats bury their defecation. As such, the excrement he sees may not be left by community cats.

Many caregivers already do pick up after the mess left by others and we are often told, much of it is litter left by a minority of irresponsible people.

Soft drink cans and soiled sanitary napkins are some of the things that have been found. Perhaps Mr Ang can also help out.

Being a civic-minded jogger who goes around the estate and notices the litter, perhaps he can help to look out for, and pick up litter - whethre it be of the human or animal variety.

Working together is the best way to keep the environment clean.

Litter Awareness if part of wider social responsibility (Today, 18-9-06)

Since the letters seem to get meshed together in the text version, here's the two letters that were printed out today.

Letter by Tan Chek Wee.

Many cat caregivers like myself are as upset as Mr John Ang ("Cat-feeders, please clean up too", Sept 15) about the mess left behind by irresponsible cat feeders.

Many, if not most, cat caregivers are aware of the danger of irresponsible cat feeding to the lives of cats — who have been caught by pest controllers to be killed following complaints from the public of leftover food.

Hence, they will speak to feeders whenever they chance upon them, to clean up. Cat caregivers who are responsible in feeding cats do not get noticed or appreciated, precisely because their acts are "invisible".

However, littering from cat feeding is part and parcel of our general lack of social responsibility. You will notice that the overwhelming type of litter is directly human-related.

Therefore, may I extend Mr Ang's call to all residents to pick all types of litter as we walk about this island.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Trial Period for Tampines Town Council

Tampines Town Council

Thanks to whomever sent this in to me!

So this was the meeting I was at on Friday. We didn't meet any MPs though. The article may have given the impression that the trial period came about because of the meeting, this was something some of the residents and the TC had already agreed upon. The town council will be meeting with the residents at a later date again. What happens after six months is something the residents and the town council have to decide upon together - the Society will be happy to help in any way we can, and we certainly hope that they'll agree to not trapping sterilised cats at all, as long as a proper management programme is in place.

Also do note, it is not a 7 day grace period for UNsterilised cats.

Sunday Times (17-9-06)


scan0013
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Good editorial.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cat play room


Cat play room
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I dropped another cat trap by a couple who had this lovely playroom for their cats. The lovely steps in the corner they told me was salvaged from some furniture that someone else threw out. Very innovative!

I'll sit however I want!


I'll sit however I want!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I dropped a cat trap off this evening and saw this funny cat - someone's pet cat I believe.

Feeding safely

Someone texted me to tell me that she was having problems as she was feeding. She said that she had people exposing themselves to her, and that someone rubbed up against her. She was scared to make a fuss and hence was suffering in silence.

Feeding of course is best done in pairs - but this is often hard to do. You need to feed safe and keep yourself safe. Feed in a well-lit area. Carry a whistle, burglar alarm or a water spray - and don't be afraid to yell for help. This woman told me that while this was in a backlane, there were quite a few people around. She just didn't know how to react. These people are counting on that - and they are using it to intimidate her.

Always look confident. Stand tall. Look like you are not afraid to kick up a fuss and do it! Carry a mobile phone at all times if you have one. Carry a camera if you can to take photos. Call the police if anyone bothers you - you should NOT have to put up with any abuse, physical or verbal. Make a police report if anyone bothers you.

Keeping quiet is what people are hoping you'll do. If you make yourself a difficult target because you're prepared to scream or make a fuss, they'll most likely to leave you alone.

Ivan has written an article about this - and it'll appear in the next newsletter, but just some pointers till that comes out.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

I was quite surprised that so many people commented on the letter in Today's newspaper. We have sent in our reply to the letter.

The thing that was a twist to me is that the writer of the letter wanted cat caregivers to pick up dog defecation. Now I can understand if the writer was upset there was food leftover - and today in fact, we were just telling the town council that if they do have recalcitrant feeders who do not listen and refuse pick up, they should fine them. This is similar to ANY other situation. The town council said it was difficult to tell the difference between someone feeding responsibly and someone who was not, and I told them in fact it wasn't. For example, if someone cleans up, it's feeding. If they leave food, it's littering. If someone is eating a sandwich on a bench, it's eating. If they toss the sandwich wrapper on the floor, it's littering.

The thing is - no one wants litter. No one wants leftover food. However in this case, the writer is upset with dog defecation - so why not speak with the dog owners who are irresponsible (and who make up a minority of dog owners)? Alternatively, why not just pick up? Obviously it bothers the writer enough to write in, so why not do something? Why ask someone else unrelated to pick up dog defecation? Because they're all animals? Because cat caregivers are the ONLY people living in the estate?

It is sad that this is what is happening - that people are pushing responsibility on to other people. I saw a letter the other day bemoaning lack of courtesy and then asking what the authorities are going to do about it. People are so used to looking to someone else - the government, other residents, the schools - that they have forgotten that they are the best people to effect change.

Not happy with dog defecation? Talk to the irresponsible dog owner. See someone throwing cat food around? Speak to that irresponsible feeder. Upset that people are throwing cans on the street? Talk to the person littering. If you can write a letter, you can speak to the people involved. Or you could start a community project to do something about it.

When I visit the US, there's a park near where I live and the park is maintained by residents. They have a group of volunteers who take care of the park because they feel it's THEIR park. They have a little group to look after the park. They set up little bins in the park with plastic bags so that dog owners can get easy access to plastic bags to pick up defecation. Other residents of the community donate their plastic bags to this endeavour. If you don't pick up, other people will ask you to. I have to say I don't think I've seen defecation in the park and I jog there too.

The idea there is - if you don't do it, no one else will, so you better do something. Here it seems more and more people seem to think, it's not up to me to do it, let's see who I can shove this responsibility to. And that's worrying for our society as a whole.

Caregivers on the other hand, are people who care about the community and who are actively doing something positive for it. Just because they're assuming responsibility for one thing - ie sterilising and managing the cats - doesn't mean they're responsible for EVERYTHING. If anything, they're already doing more for the community than other residents are.

Carton of donated food


Carton of donated food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the carton of donated food. We're likely to be giving it out on Spay Day as I mentioned because we do know that those caregivers sterilise in addition to feeding.

Another town council meeting

I went down to see the Town Council featured in the news recently along with the SPCA and AVA. It was in response to all the recent news about the trapping in the papers.

We spoke with them about the situation and said that it was very important to remember that this was not a case of residents versus the town council, but of working together to solve complaints. We cleared up some misconceptions on their part - ie that volunteers might bring cats in from other areas, that feeding irresponsibly was okay, that cats going upstairs are cats from downstairs.

There was also some miscommunication they said, because they thought that a few volunteers who had gone to see them in May spoke for all the residents, but they did not. This meant that other residents who wanted to speak with them were turned away. This of course made it difficult for the other residents to contact the town council, and meant that they felt that they could not have recourse to the town council. I told them that it was important to make it known that the town council would listen to every resident - just as they would to every complainant. They in turn were unhappy with the press coverage so we had a discussion about that and how some residents are still unhappy with the town council.

We also mentioned the importance of mediation. Dinesh from SPCA also pointed out it was important to explain to complainants about the programme and that it was important HOW this was put across to complainant too.

In the end, it seems that they they are going to ask CWS to be the go-between the residents and the TC. That way if they have a complaint, they'll ask us to contact the residents involved. I pointed out that we were fine with it as long as the residents are, for some residents may want to work with us for whatever reason.

So far, it seemed a pretty positive meeting. They'll be arranging to meet the caregivers shortly.

On the way out, we were speaking to the AVA and SPCA representatives about how all of us had gotten angry phone calls from residents of this town council. Someone mentioned they got an expletive laden phone call from an angry resident. Another said that they were scolded over the phone by another person from the area.

Now the town council is talking of flyering the area - and they asked if we can translate our Mediation flyer into Tamil as well. We've actually found that the Indian residents we've met can all read English, which is why we've never translated it into Tamil. Logistically as well, we've never had anyone offer to translate into Tamil. So here's my next request - anyone can help do a Tamil translation?

Today (15--9-06)

Letters from Today. Thanks Vegancat for sending them in.
Have drafted a quick response as I'm rushing out for a meeting now.

WHY HAVEN'T THE TREES RETURNED? CAT-FEEDERS, PLEASE CLEAN UP TOO


Lim Boon Hee:
John Ang:

shorttakes

More than one and a half years ago, the Surbana - which comes under the
umbrella of the HDB - undertook the widening of Jalan Membina. In the
process, 15 to 20 mature trees were felled, as one letter-writer lamented.
The trees were about 25 to 30 years old, had lovely shapes, provided good
shade and did not shed their branches.

Official replies by NParks and the HDB reassured the writer that trees
would be planted once the road widening was completed. The work is almost
complete, but I do not see any trees being planted. Many residents who use
this road daily to and from Tiong Bahru MRT have suffered the piercing
direct sun long enough.

Thank you Daniel Toh Yong Tat ("Calling all residents", Sept 14) and
brother for feeding the stray cat Garfield for the past two years.

But while the community works together to look for the "cat murderer",
they could perhaps also help to clean up the excrement left by the stays
and the leftover food from the cat-feeders.

While patrolling the area, you may also like to do the community a service
by picking up the poo left behind by dog-owners who do not clean up after
their pets, in consideration of those of us who are joggers.

Let us be considerate of one another.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Little Kitten


Little Kitten
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Last stop of the day - dropping off a poster at a clinic.

Cat in bush


Cat in bush
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After stopping in to look at the food, then went to a condominium to speak to the condo manager about starting a TNRM programme.

They don't want to kill the cats. The problem is that apparently they don't want ANY cats in the condo. They mentioned they keep seeing the same cats in the condo, which means the cats are fairly territorial already (either that or they can't quite tell the cats apart). However, I told the condo manager that the residents cannot decree that they don't want any cats - there WILL be some cats, whether they like it or not.

It surprises me still how people feel that they can dictate anything. If they don't want cats here, they'll just dictate that there can't BE any. The problem is that it doesn't work that well. One might as well stand and tell the rain not to fall, or the sun not to shine. It HAPPENS, whether or not people like it.

Chef Food


Chef Food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

A company is donating some canned food that was given to them to us. I realised there was more than I could fit in one trip - so will be picking up the rest tomorrow. We're likely to be distributing this during Spay Day to people taking part.

Marc's photo


Marc's photo
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I had to drop by and pick up some cat cafe VCDs from Marc - and this was one of the photos he took for an exhibition currently up at SMU.

Posters and meetings

Off to drop posters, go for a meeting and pick up some Cat Cafe VCDs from Marc. Just got a new portable DVD player which I can start bringing for meetings with TCs and management corporations!

Getting involved in your Community

One thing you might want to consider doing is getting actively involved in your community - and not just in terms of the cats. If you live in an estate with an RC, a management committee or a residents' association, it's a good idea to try and join up. A few of our volunteers are grassroot leaders - and that helps them when dealing with the cats too. Firstly, it allows the other grassroot leaders to know more about the situation - right now, it's not surprising that some grassroot leaders have a negative impression of the cats and their caregivers. Their only contact with cats or their feeders is when they get complaints, or when they see the effects of ghost feeders who have been leaving food around. If they are more aware that there is a right way and wrong way of managing the cats, and that there is a proper system that can be put into place, they are more likely to be inclined to view the cats and their caregivers more kindly. Again it's about education.

Secondly, it lets the other grassroot leaders to get to know YOU better - and of course, when they know you as a person, that definitely helps. If you are logical, calm and have a plan of action, they'll realise that you can be trusted to take care of the situation. Some RCs, MCs and estate committees I know have even started a cat sub-committee and entrusted it to caregivers. Imagine - instead of having the RC looking at you as if you are a nuisance, you could have them helping you and on your side. Wouldn't that be great?

Today (14-9-06)

Calling all Residents

Thanks Vegancat for sending this in.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Table at the premiere


Table at the premiere
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Moviegoers at last night's show received flowers and cookies too. Those are our brochures on the table. I gave a little two minute speech as did Corinna from AWARE. Thanks for everyone who bought tickets and came.

For the rest of you who might want to go for the next premiere, it's on October 16th, and the movie is "My Summer of Love".

TNP (12-9-06)


TNP (12-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Colin Goh's take on the cat issues of late.

Encouraging responsible behaviour

I was talking to a caregiver today who told me that she has been providing food to someone with a lot of cats in their flat. She said that the person's flat is in a mess and it smells. There is cat urination and defecation everywhere. The HDB and town council and residents have complained but this woman won't let anyone except the caregiver into the flat.

I told the caregiver that in that case, she ought to STOP providing food to this woman until she can prove that she is going to literally clean her act up. Apparently people dump kittens on this woman (which is bad) but this woman keeps taking them in and most of them die. The flat is filthy according to the caregiver. The problem is the woman knows the caregiver is not going to cut her off, so she runs to the caregiver when she needs food or medicine for her cats. However, when the cats get pregnant, she does not let the caregiver know so suddenly MORE cats pop up.

While it is very kind of many people to want to help other needy people looking after cats, be smart about it. Helping this woman is not helping the cats because the cats are not being kept in good condition - if this woman knows that there are conditions before she is given food (ie keeping the apartment clean, looking after the cats properly), then she is more likely to adhere to them because she WANTS the food.

Right now, she can do whatever she wants and she still gets the food. It's important to give an impetus to behave better. Just providing the food encourages people like this woman to continue with the way things are - and this doesn't help the cats.

Loan of equipment


Loan of equipment
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Copyright SHERA newsletter.

Thank you again to Elizabeth for sending this in. Note the only thing you DON'T have to pay for is the cat trap.

Loaning out cat traps


Loan of cat traps advertisement
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Copyright SHERA newsletter. Thanks Elizabeth for sending this in.

Remember this guy?

I spoke to a person living in the estate to tell her to watch her community cats in the estate. She in turn told another resident who told me that this same guy has been putting an advertisement in their estate newsletter and loaning out cat traps for free. I've blanked out the name and contact details of the person (to protect the guilty in this case), but here's the advertisement for you to see.

As she pointed out, nothing is said about what is to be done with the cats AFTER they have been trapped.

The caregiver I was speaking to is hopping mad.

Interview with 93.8

Just did a phone interview about the abuse cases and David Hooi's sentencing for 93.8. It'll air sometime next week.

Imagine Me & You


Imagine Me & You
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

At the movie premiere last night. Thanks to Fridae for organising it and for having AWARE and ourselves as beneficiaries.

Poster delivery

Off to deliver more posters. Between rebecca and myself, we hope to get them into almost all the vets by this week.

ST (13-9-06)


ST (13-9-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.



Email back up.

I'm glad that the judge pointed out that there is a link between violence towards animals and violence towards people in the future.

Having said that, I'm not sure whom this sentence helps - not the cats, because David Hooi will be out in a year and the chances of him abusing cats in the future is 'high' and certainly not David Hooi either, who has a mental disorder and needs treatment. I don't see how preventive detention would have helped either even if it could be ordered - what it says is that we as a society don't know what to do with this man, so let's just lock him up.

The psychiatrist's report was very enlightening and he or she recommended that David Hooi be kept in a secure environment - and I think the problem is that we're lacking in these facilities that will help people like David Hooi, or even people like the 'disabled' people mentioned on the front page of Today's Straits Times. I am not suggesting in any way of course that 'disabled' people will run out and commit criminal acts, but as one mother in that report said, one of her sons, Joel, has Aperger's Syndrome that may be miscontrued by members of the opposite sex as being over-friendly. One can see this becoming a problem should there be no one to restrain the child ,who has no idea that his behaviour may be inappropriate.

Another big difference is that the people in the main page article have parents to look after them - and even those parents are in despair should they pass away before their children. Who will look after them and help them should they get into trouble?

What we do need are more mental health professionals and people who are able to counsel and treat people like David Hooi and others in society who may need help (without being criminals). We need facilities and homes to perhaps help to house and allow them to live out their lives and hopefully taught how to live in society. David Hooi's prognosis is seen to be poor in light of his previous convictions - or perhaps his previous convictions could be seen in light of the fact that he didn't get treatment earlier?

Whatever it is, welfare groups would be more than willing to help - but we're NOT mental health professionals. This is not a situation where someone can be taught if you pet the nice kitty, that they'll learn to love it. This is a person whose problems are much more deep-seated than that. And we as a society need to look long and hard about helping people like David Hooi. Prison isn't going to help him (unless he gets counselling and treatment in prison and beyond) and it isn't going to help the cats either.

It also goes to show that someone must have noticed something earlier - if the people who though that his actions were just the hijinks of a child had brought this up, maybe he could have been helped earlier too. People must have known him growing up - he had a troubled upbringing according to newspaper reports, but neighbours, teachers, friends, must have noticed something was wrong. If someone had spoken up earlier, and he had been given treatment earlier, maybe the situation would not have gotten quite so bad.

Email down

Looks like CWS email is down again this morning, so it may take a while to get back to you if you write into us. We've already written to the company to please look into it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cat at the vet


Cat at the vet
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went down to distribute Spay Day posters at some vets today, and this is one of the resident cats at one of the vets!

David Hooi sentenced

I've been told David Hooi has just been sentenced to a year's jail term. The judge has also asked that welfare groups help rehabilitate him when he comes out.

While the welfare groups would be happy I am sure to help in whatever way that we can, we do also want to ensure that he gets the right kind of rehabilitation - and that is the sort of rehabilitation that only a mental health professional can provide.

Cats cannot be made to stay indoors?

HDB officers I noticed still trot out this reason from time to time - like the email this afternoon.

Now if you leave the door open, anything can run out - a dog, a rabbit, or even a toddler. No one blames a toddler for example, nor should they. It is not the child's fault - nor is it the cat's. If a child runs out or causes a nuisance, people will look to the parents, not the child - so why is it when a cat runs out, people say that cats are the ones to blame? It boggles my mind.

Off to drop off Spay day posters at the vets.

HDB rules

Someone wrote in to complain that her neighbour is feeding cats in the corridor and that the cats are running into her house. She asked how many cats are allowed in the flat. She said she wanted to know whether they can keep cats inside the flat instead of letting them wander about. She sent the complaint to the town council, who then sent it on to HDB and ourselves. The town council said that they have also spoken to the neighbour who feeds outside.

Now here's the problem, the HDB has now written to the woman to say that cats are not allowed in flats. The woman would prefer they NOT have cats running around into her house, which is perfectly understandable. If the HDB steps in and issues the resident with a letter saying she cannot keep the cats, where do you think the cats are going to all end up? That's right - the corridor. So how does this solve the problem?

Still no reply from HDB to our last request for a meeting by the way.