Friday, October 17, 2003

News from Home

AVA stands by decision to stop sterilising cats

It says educating pet owners is the way to go and turns down appeal; SPCA says move is shortsighted

By Ben Nadarajan

ANIMAL lovers yesterday attacked the Government's decision to end its programme to sterilise cats, but the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is unmoved.

'We have considered SPCA's appeal but believe that public education is the way to go,' said AVA's spokesman, in reply to a statement from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

It will intensify its programme next year to encourage pet owners to be more responsible, especially not to abandon their cats, he added.

The SPCA was not impressed, saying the decision not to sterilise was 'shortsighted and premature'.

'The SPCA foresees a stray cat population explosion in Singapore whether or not the AVA runs responsible pet ownership education programmes,' said its executive officer Deirdre Moss.

'Yes, you might be able to educate people not to abandon their cats but you cannot teach a cat to stop breeding, which is why sterilisation is needed,' she added.

Ms Moss wants the AVA to rethink its decision last week to abandon the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme after feedback from 16 town councils showed it was ineffective.

The scheme, launched in 1998, had volunteers rounding up the strays and taking them to the AVA to be sterilised. In its five years, it sterilised only 3,500 cats out of about 80,000 strays, with animal welfare groups sterilising another 7,000.

Cat volunteers said the low number is because so few time slots were opened for them to take the strays to the AVA.

Ms Moss also pointed out that the scheme had been in place for only a 'relatively short period'.

'With tens of thousands of strays still to be sterilised, naturally there would not be a significant fall in the population,' she said, adding that continued support from the AVA 'would have yielded better results in the long run'.

It costs between $40 and $60 to neuter a male cat and between $70 and $100 for a female.

She said culling is not the answer because it has been done for decades without any effect on the stray population. The AVA culls about 40 cats a day.

another triumph of shortsighted financial planning. wait til we're up to our ears in cats, boys and girls, and then you'll rue the day you decided it wasn't worthwhile to keep the sterlisation program. they'd rather drag in forty cats a day to put down?

in other news: Singapore is going to allow a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. how times are a-changing.

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