Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times AsiaOne 16 Dec 15;
SINGAPORE - A new grassroots fast response team has been set up to gather evidence and conduct patrols in Nee Soon, after a spate of cat deaths around the estate in the last three months.
Member of Parliament Louis Ng said on Tuesday (Dec 15) that additional high resolution cameras have also been installed around the neighbourhood.
He said this will complement efforts by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Singapore Police Force in nabbing the serial cat killers, who have struck 17 times since September. Only one of the 17 cats survived the attacks.
Mr Ng also said on Facebook that a cat named Annie has gone missing. Annie "made friends" with Mr Ng when he was introduced as a People's Action Party candidate in August this year.
"I sincerely hope Annie has not been killed," Mr Ng wrote.
The latest case on Dec 12 involved a cat found dead at a multi-storey carpark along Yishun Ring Road. It is believed that the cat, which had suffered extensive bleeding, was thrown from height.
The fast response team currently consists of 20 to 30 grassroots volunteers, cat feeders and concerned residents.
Once they have been alerted to a case, a small team of volunteers will arrive at the location promptly and go from door-to -door to speak to residents.
They will also leave notices on vehicles in the vicinity to appeal for the owners of private in-car cameras to review their CCTV footage for evidence.
Mr Ng stressed that to prosecute any offender, AVA would need direct verifiable evidence such as videos and photographs.
The AVA, which is leading the investigation, has reviewed the existing CCTV footage from cameras at HDB lift lobbies and in the lifts but found no leads so far.
Ms Janet Sum, a volunteer and founder of Facebook group Yishun 326 Tabby Cat, has called for more volunteers to join the fast response team.
She noted that the current group of volunteers have been "overwhelmed and overstretched".
About six volunteers patrol the neighbourhood between 1am to 4am almost every night, but they are unable to cover all the key areas, she said.
She added that recent cat deaths have become "more cruel" and "more bold", a sign that the suspects remain undeterred.
Members of the public with any information about the deaths of the cats may call the AVA at 1800-476-1600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yishun cat deaths: More volunteers needed to patrol neighbourhood
Concerned residents say the cases of suspected animal abuse are escalating, with only one out of 17 cats surviving the abuse, which ranges from strangulation to poisoning.
Melissa Zhu Channel NewsAsia 15 Dec 15;
SINGAPORE: Following a recent spate of cat deaths in the neighbourhood, animal welfare activist Louis Ng, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, said a grassroots fast response team will be beefed up to gather evidence and conduct patrols in Yishun.
The team currently consists of about 20 to 30 cat feeders and concerned residents. More volunteers are being added to conduct more patrols, gather evidence on abuse, and alert residents when suspected abuse is taking place, he said.
"What they are doing is very essential," Mr Ng said on Tuesday (Dec 15). "We need people on the ground that can witness and see (what is happening)."
Apart from trying to catch the suspects, the purpose of publicly announcing the measures was to deter other potential abusers, said Mr Ng.
"We’re deeply concerned and very appalled by the killings of the cats in Yishun, and let me assure everyone that the authorities are doing everything they can. They are investigating every lead possible,” he said. “But at the same time we also want the community to also play a very important role in this."
The MP, who is the founder and Executive Director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), was speaking at a media briefing held at Nee Soon East Community Club on measures taken following the reports of cat deaths in Yishun.
Mr Ng has been vocal about the issue, calling the acts "barbaric" in an Oct 23 Facebook post.
Since September, there have been reports of 17 stray cats showing signs of abuse in the neighbourhood. Not all are strays - one was a pet, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said. Of the 17, only one of the cats survived.
"SUSPECTS BECOMING MORE CRUEL, MORE BOLD"
Volunteer Janet Sum said they would like to add "as many people as possible" to the fast response team, including expanding the team of those doing overnight patrols from four to six, to at least seven members. Many of the cases of suspected abuse take place between 2am and 4am, said the private tutor, and the current volunteers are "overwhelmed and overstretched".
Residents will be alerted to suspected cases of abuse in the hope they will be able to provide witness accounts, or footage from their in-car cameras and CCTVs, to help identify the suspects.
There have been cases when the police were alerted, but the suspects ran away as soon as they spotted the police cars, Ms Sum said.
On their modus operandi, she said that the suspects would act friendly to cats, trying to lure the cats out by calling out to them. "I am sure it is more than one person," she said, adding that the recent cases suggest that the suspects have become "more cruel and more bold".
Ms Veron Lau, a committee member in the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) also said there could be more than one culprit. For instance, there was a cluster of 4 to 5 cases that appeared to have the same modus operandi, with the cats being thrown down from a height at the same area.
These appear to be linked to a specific individual, who owned two of the cats and feeds other stray cats. CWS therefore suspects that this could be the result of a personal vendetta, and separate from some of the other cases, Ms Lau said.
In the latest case on Dec 12, a cat was found dead at the basement of the carpark of Blk 115B at Yishun Ring Road. It had also been thrown down from a height.
In previous cases, a cat had its eye gouged out and tongue slit, while others were found poisoned, said Ms Sum.
BETTER FORENSICS TECHNOLOGY NEEDED: CWS
Ms Lau said CWS had observed a pattern of cat abuse, with use of blunt force on the animals, happening "sporadically" since September 2014. However, there has been an uptick in such cases in the past three months, she said.
She added that CWS has been pushing for use of more advanced technology for ongoing post-mortem investigations into the cat deaths. "Our forensics technology has improved in leaps and bounds, but this does not apply to cases involving animals," she said.
She added that in several cases, CWS had pushed AVA for more details on cat deaths, but was told AVA did not have access to the same forensics resources as the police, and could not provide analyses of fingerprints and blood, for example.
CATS DIED FROM EXTERNAL TRAUMA: AVA
AVA said it is "actively investigating" the cases of cat cruelty in Yishun. "Based on the results so far, the cats had died from external trauma. However, the cause of injuries could not be determined. Results of some post mortem analyses are still pending," a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that they have taken statements from informants and witnesses, including animal welfare groups such as CWS, and have investigated all leads, including suspects identified by them.
"However, as there were no direct witnesses to the actual acts committed and videographic footage (including 143 hours of CCTV footage) did not capture anything of use to the investigation, no case could be established against any of the suspects," AVA said.
AVA added that it needs direct verifiable evidence, such photographs and video, as well as direct witnesses willing to testify in court, to prosecute any offender.
Members of the public with any information about the deaths of the cats can call the AVA at 1800-476-1600 or email email@example.com. Anyone found to be guilty of animal abuse faces a fine of up to $15,000 and/or a jail term of up to 18 months.
Cat killings in Yishun prompt appeal for sharing of footage
In-vehicle camera recordings sought to help with investigations
VALERIE KOH Today Online 15 Dec 15;
SINGAPORE — With no leads surfacing after scanning through months of TV surveillance footage, investigators are turning to new measures such as putting up more high-definition cameras and getting residents to review their in-vehicle camera footages — to put an end to a brutal killing spree that has claimed the lives of 16 cats in Yishun.
Since Sept 24 this year, there have been 17 reported cases of cat abuse there. Only one — the first victim — survived an attack after it was found in Northland Primary School at Yishun Avenue 4.
Many of the cats suffered horrific injuries: Strangulation, poisoning, and head and back trauma. One carcass had its eyeball gorged and tongue slit, while another had a severed limb.
The latest victim was found bleeding extensively in a multi-storey carpark at block 115B Yishun Ring Road last Saturday (Dec 12). Post-mortem results are pending.
In the ongoing efforts to tackle these cases, Member of Parliament (Nee Soon GRC) Louis Ng appealed to members of the public to share footage recorded in their in-vehicle cameras with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) investigators.
“In Nee Soon, we don’t have that many multi-storey carparks, but we have many open-air carparks, and a lot of the cars are (facing) void decks. These cars might have in-vehicle cameras left on at night. They might have captured something,” Mr Ng said.
To facilitate this public appeal, a list of the times and places of the cat abuse cases will be put up on notice boards.
Mr Ng also announced a new grassroots fast-response team comprising volunteers, cat feeders and concerned residents. The idea was mooted during a meeting last Saturday with 22 volunteers, some of whom have been patrolling the crime scenes regularly and conducting their own investigations.
Mr Ng suggested that they could complement the authorities’ efforts: “We want to make sure we use our resources more effectively.”
Likening the team to first responders, Mr Ng said that they could interview residents from door to door, upon discovering the cat abuse case. “It’s useful to have residents going to residents. They’re more open to each other,” he added, urging more volunteers to join the team.
Several suspects have been rounded up for investigations, but the evidence on hand remains “inconclusive”, Mr Ng noted.
Madam Janet Sum, 53, founder of Yishun 326 Tabby Cat, an animal rescue group, said that the culprits appeared to be getting bolder, because of the cruelty of the acts. In a recent case on Nov 28, a cat was found strangled and dumped in a rubbish chute with a rope still attached to it.
Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times AsiaOne 16 Dec 15;