Dr Teo's reply
As I mentioned briefly in my entry yesterday, Dr Teo responded in the afternoon. His concern was that the community cats and dogs are causing a lot of nuisance in the town councils and hence they are aiming towards having 'no strays' for a better living environment so the residents can enjoy their lives.
He said that he felt that the source must be tackled - where are all the cats coming from and that without a comprehensive proposal, the TCs cannot support this programme. They feel that they are constrained by the HDB rules as well.
He felt that the AVA should be the right body to tackle the issue and they should be the ones deciding how to house and remove the community cats.
I agree with him in that the problem of how cats are being added into the environment has to be tackled at the root cause. Sterilised cats obviously do not breed and do not increase the population, so in a managed area, this isn't an issue. What IS an issue is abandonment - and I am very glad that the TCs feel the same way that the HDB rule is a hindrance. We have been bringing this up to the HDB many times but they have consistently said that they do not have this feedback from the town councils.
I feel that we all agree on the aims - not having cats on the streets. If one day every single cat had a loving home and there were no cats on the streets, who would be happier than the caregivers? I am sure that if we can work together we can also agree on the means to solve this situation and ensure the community cat population is managed.
The question is how to go about it. We KNOW killing doesn't work - it never has brought the population down, it costs a lot of money, it's short term and it's inhumane. Sterilisation does work - but only if the other factors are plugged.
Instead of the TCs seeing that this is an issue they deal with in isolation, what really needs to be done is get everyone involved - the AVA, the TC, the HDB, NEA and the caregivers to work out a solution. As it is, many caregivers are already working with their TCs to handle this problem. The different departments don't cannot view this as being not their problem - everyone has to chip in and do their part.
How? Change the HDB rule, promote sterilisation, stop selling pets in pet shops. That would be a good start.
One thing that I think Dr Teo may perhaps have overlooked is that cats and dogs in the estates bring a lot of joy to some people. While a minority dislike having them there, another group (also a minority) really like them being there. The rest don't care either way - but if it came down to it, wouldn't want them killed.
Just as I write this, another email came in from Dr Teo. He is arranging for us to meet the TC General Managers at their next meeting, which is great news. He says that he would like to get the other authorities involved as well. I am glad he reacted so quickly as well.