Stray Dogs Management Plan to be launched in Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West

Sara Grosse Channel NewsAsia 30 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE: A Stray Dogs Management Plan will be launched this week in Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West to manage the nuisance of strays.

Under the plan, strays will be rounded up in a dog enclosure and re-homed with those who're keen to adopt or foster them.

The enclosure will be ready by May 2.

The plan is a collaborative effort by the National Parks Board and animal welfare groups.

If successful, the plan could be adopted by other areas plagued with the problem of strays.

Over the past six months, residents in this area have filed over 30 complaints about stray dogs, saying they bark aggressively, howl at night and even chase park users.

One resident said: "They are normally in a pack, a few dogs at a time//"Not very comfortable but so far no attacks."

Another resident added: "About ten of them. Big and small."

In the past, NParks says it was challenging to capture and re-home stray dogs. Among some of the contributing factors was a thick forested area, as well as residents coming out to feed the stray dogs.

The solution? A 15 by 25 metre enclosure which NParks is hoping will lure the strays in with food.

Tay Boon Sin, Assistant Director of National Parks, said: "We have to cut off all the food source. So we will be working with Ang Mo Kio Town Council to make sure they clear the bins, they secure the bin centres, and once we cut off the food source, I think the chances will be much higher for us to lure the food to the enclosure to re-home the dog."

Dogs in the enclosure will then be transported to an animal welfare shelter.

And after being sterilised and assessed to be well-adjusted, the dog will be put up for adoption.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) will help NParks in finding a new home for the dogs, but adds it will not be easy.

Corinne Fong Executive Director of SPCA, said: "With our own fosterers already, on our pool, but they are used to taking care of little puppies and kittens, and I'm not sure with dogs out here it might present a challenge, but we are willing to try."

The animal welfare group says it will give the dogs adequate time and space to rehabilitate.

The Stray Dogs Management Plan will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

- CNA/de

NParks to trap stray dogs in pilot project
It will work with animal groups to rehabilitate Ang Mo Kio pack of 20
Judith Tan Straits Times 1 May 12;

AN ENCLOSURE was put up yesterday at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West to capture 20 stray dogs living there.

Built by the National Parks Board (NParks), the fenced-up area measuring 25m by 15m will help solve the problem of strays living there in a humane way, said NParks' assistant director Tay Boon Sin.

NParks is working with three animal welfare groups - the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) and Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) - to rehabilitate and re-home the dogs after their capture.

Announcing this to the media yesterday, Mr Tay said that if this pilot project proved successful, it would be adopted in other areas where stray dogs roam.

Singapore has about 8,000 stray dogs.

Dog lovers viewed the move yesterday as a welcome departure from how strays are usually handled. It was only a year ago that two tenders called by NParks for the catching and culling of stray dogs had upset civic society groups and dog lovers.

Past exercises to trap strays in Ang Mo Kio failed due to the area's thick foliage. Feeders also tampered with the traps.

In the last six months, NParks has received more than 30 complaints from residents and park users at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West.

'(The complaints) include strays barking aggressively and chasing park users, and howling at night, disturbing residents' sleep,' Mr Tay said, adding that the strays posed a growing safety issue to the public, especially young children.

Property agent Angel Teo, 30, who moved into the block of flats next to the park in January, said she felt frustrated every night for the first few weeks when the dogs' barking and howling kept her then-five-month-old daughter awake.

Mr Eric Kok, 50, who jogs regularly at the park, said: 'They come out only late at night and do not worry us when we jog. They bark only when we pass by the wooded area.'

But other residents have complained of the dogs chasing park users, especially those who push trolleys with groceries.

Now, instead of catching and culling the 20 strays, including five puppies, NParks will work with the animal welfare and non-government groups to house and rehabilitate them.

After the dogs are rounded up, they will be taken to the premises of the animal welfare groups or the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to see if they are suitable for adoption.

'Those that shy away from humans and are skittish will be sent for rehabilitation and slowly socialised for as long as it takes so they would be able to be housed,' said SPCA executive director Corinne Fong, adding that more people are needed to provide foster care to dogs until they get adopted.

ASD founder Ricky Yeo told reporters at the press conference that the safety and welfare of the dogs must be ensured.

'We must ensure they do not drag the dogs by the leash when they are putting them into the vans for transporting them, but have proper cages,' he said.

SOSD secretary Malina Tjhin said: 'It has taken months to come to fruition, but at least we are doing something good for the dogs.'

An AVA spokesman said it received news about strays in Lorong Halus and Punggol Waterway and will survey those areas to ensure public safety.

Mr Tay said NParks' rangers will be stationed 24/7 at the Ang Mo Kio enclosure from tomorrow to entice the dogs with food and to look out for feeders.

'We will make weekly assessments on the project. When it succeeds, we will study how to adapt it to the other areas where the problems and layouts may be different,' he said.

What to do when confronted by dogs

If you spot a pack of dogs ahead of you in the distance, change your route to avoid confrontation, say animal welfare activists.

If you are close to their territory, it is important for the dogs to know you are in the area so you do not startle them. You may consider whistling and talking in a low calm voice, but do not try to scare or startle them.

Some dogs may think they are in your territory and simply run away. Based on their reaction, you will be able to determine whether you should continue on the same route or go back in the direction you came from.

If the dogs are aggressive - that is, barking, growling and showing their teeth - turn around and walk away. Do not scream and start running because the dogs can overtake you.

Avoid 'stare-downs'. If you can, show your profile and avert your eyes rather than approaching the dogs straight on, as this can be construed as confrontational behaviour.

Even if a dog appears friendly, do not stick out your hand to let it sniff you.

If a dog does come at you, try to get another object in its mouth, whether it is an item of clothing, a handbag, an umbrella, a water bottle or a stick. An attacking dog will grab anything. Remember, do not run.

If you are knocked to the ground by a dog, try to curl your body tightly, cover your ears and face, and tuck in your chin to protect your throat. Try to remain still and silent until the dog loses interest in attacking you.

If you are on a bicycle and spot dogs ahead, approach slowly but use a gear that will allow you to accelerate away rapidly should the dogs give chase after you have passed.