Sunday 16 September 2012

Task force studying cat ownership in HDB estates

WE THANK Mr Lee Chiu San for his feedback ("Why are cats banned in HDB flats?"; Aug 25).

HDB estates are high-rise and high density in nature. In setting the rules on pet ownership, the HDB's primary consideration is to preserve a pleasant living environment and good neighbourly relations.

We need to strike a balance between residents who are pet lovers and those who are more sensitive to the disamenities caused by animals.

Last year, the Ministry of National Development set up a task force to look into pet ownership issues. One of its objectives is to develop a comprehensive and sustainable management framework to ensure responsible pet ownership and behaviour.

Pet owners will need to be responsible for their pets and the common living environment, so as to enhance harmony in the community.

The task force is working closely with the Cat Welfare Society, the Sembawang-Nee Soon Town Council and other stakeholders on a pilot cat ownership project in Chong Pang constituency. This pilot project is intended to study the feasibility of a community management framework for cat ownership in HDB estates. More details of this pilot project will be released in due course.
Lim Lea Lea (Ms)
Director (Branch operations)
Housing & Development Board
ST Forum, 10 Sep 2012

Why are cats banned in HDB flats?
THE Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) gave a reasoned reply to recent letters from me and other Forum Page contributors on the issue of stray cats and irresponsible cat feeders ("Collective effort needed to tackle stray cat issue"; Monday).

The AVA's reply rightly noted that the stray cat issue is complex and requires the collective efforts of animal welfare groups, caregivers and the community.

The reply was silent over the major role the HDB can play in resolving the problem.

Cats are banned in HDB flats for no good reason, but dogs are allowed.

In fact, dogs can be far more irritating to the neighbours, a view held by cat and dog experts I have met.

Repealing the HDB ban will immediately free up a pool of caregivers who can adopt and take responsibility for stray cats.

It will also separate the wheat from the chaff among the animal welfare activists.

Some are genuine in their concern for cats.

Others just want the fun of playing with them in public areas, leaving the inevitable mess and other problems that cats create for others to clear up.

It is time for the HDB to state its reasons and justify the ban on the keeping of cats.
Lee Chiu San
ST Forum, 25 Aug 2012

Collective effort needed to tackle stray cat issue
RECENTLY, there have been several letters on the feeding of stray cats ("For cat's sake, act against irresponsible feeding" by Mr Lee Chiu San, Aug 1; and "Irresponsible pet owners deserve equally stiff penalties" by Mr Yang Ying Qing, last Thursday, and "Cat feeders are the problem" by Ms Vivienne Yeo, Aug 4, both on Forum Online).

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) takes a balanced approach in managing stray cats.

Public opinion on their management is divided. There are those who are bothered by the stray cat nuisance and irresponsible feeding, and hence advocate a ban on feeding them and their removal from the streets. There are also others who advocate sterilisation and responsible management as humane ways to manage the stray cat population.

The AVA takes into consideration these diverse views and ensures that our control measures benefit society at large.

People should not feed strays irresponsibly. While the feeding of stray animals is well-intended, irresponsible feeding becomes an offence when it causes littering of the environment.

The public may contact the AVA on 1800-476-1600 to provide feedback on irresponsible stray animal feeding.

Animal lovers should also be mindful that feeding strays without getting them sterilised will cause them to proliferate and exacerbate the stray cat situation. The efforts of animal lovers who devote their time and resources to sterilising and caring for community cats can be supported as long as they do so responsibly.

We have observed that in areas where sterilised stray cats are part of the community, the stray cat population has decreased.

Thus, the AVA has been working with the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) to promote responsible pet ownership and explore feasible ways of managing the stray animal population.

For example, we are working with the CWS and their volunteers through our Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme. Under it, an agreed number of sterilised cats are returned to the neighbourhood, where they are responsibly managed by caregivers. The CWS also assists, where possible, in community mediation related to cat issues.

The stray cat issue is a complex problem with no quick fixes. Tackling it requires the collective efforts of animal welfare groups, caregivers and the community.

The AVA will continue its public education efforts to inculcate responsible pet ownership to improve animal welfare, as well as create a harmonious living environment for all. However, education is a long-term process, and a little tolerance and understanding from everyone goes a long way.
Dr Wong Hon Mun
Director, Agri Establishment Regulation
for Chief Executive Officer

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