I am an ardent animal lover. However, I am deeply concerned with the ever increasing number of stray dogs and cats in our environment of late. It appears that certain irresponsible pet owners are now abandoning their pets in housing estates. This cruel and barbaric practice has contributed to a rise in strays and associated public complaints. Whatever the reasons, it is inhumane to abandon a pet. There so many other alternatives if all these fail it should be given a ‘humane exit’.
The increase in prices due to the introduction of the new Goods and Sales Taxes (GST) for pet food/products/medicines and veterinary care has made the situation worse. I have personally come across so many abandoned dogs in housing estates. There are two abandoned dogs taking shelter in my house at the moment. Animal welfare homes and SPCAs are in no position to provide shelter to all these poor creatures as they have their limitations.
The public should view the increase in stray population seriously. We should realise that stray dogs and cats experience poor health due to lack of resources or provisions to safeguard their freedom. These animals can pose a significant threat to human health through their role in disease transmission.
I am of the view that any ad hoc solution taken with regards to managing the strays will not be effective. The authorities need to conduct a proper study on the stray population, its dynamics et al. Based on the findings they should develop long-term strategies to effectively deal with the problem. A proper study will reveal the actual situation of our stray population and how best to deal with it. At the moment there are no proper statistics on strays.
According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals the following elements are said to be essential in controlling strays: a comprehensive and effective legislation, registration and licensing, control of breeding and sale of pets, environmental management, pet owner education and cooperation between the authorities and animal welfare organisations.
The authorities, in the interim, should focus on spaying and neutering the strays and releasing the healthy ones in a safe environment. Local councils should introduce special mobile vet clinics to provide the services. Ideally they should be provided gratis.
Guidelines can be drawn up so that the free services are not abused or exploited. If the authorities are short-handed they can always get animal welfare groups to assist.
On behalf of animal lovers, I wish to appeal to the government to remove taxes imposed on pet food, products, medicines and veterinary care. This will help in reducing the number of strays in the country.