Possible new animal adoption centre revealed at ACRES charity carwash

Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia 14 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE: There could soon be a new community animal adoption centre and dog run at East Coast Park.

The idea is being discussed by the Kembangan-Chai Chee grassroots and the Ministry of National Development (MND) and it is hoped this rent-free space will encourage more in Singapore to adopt rather than buy a pet.

This initiative was announced by Manpower Minister and MP for Marine Parade GRC Tan Chuan-Jin, who, together with Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, joined over 60 volunteers at the first-ever ACRES Charity Carwash on Sunday (Dec 14).

The goal was to raise funds to wipe out animal cruelty in Singapore. It cost owners a minimum donation of S$25 to get their car washed and S$35 for their van to be cleaned. The money will go towards ACRES' outreach efforts, wildlife rescue and its animal crime investigation unit.

More than 150 cars were washed at the event, with about S$10,000 raised.

Mr Tan also said discussions are underway to see if the Pilot Cat Ownership Project currently in Chong Pang can be extended to the east as well. It is also hoped that various animal welfare groups will be able to use the adoption centre.

"We do have a lot of people who do like pets and animals, but we also have a lot of people who are uncomfortable,” said Mr Tan. “So the key thing is really to find and to create a common space, to encourage people to co-exist, with animals in our midst.

“We're still discussing with MND on what is possible, I'm keen to explore the possibility of dog runs in the area and we're also looking at perhaps, rather than just a dog run, we could … have on a weekly or fortnightly basis some of the different animal welfare groups coming together and promoting greater awareness.”

ACRES executive director Louis Ng added: "There are a lot of groups out there that always have adoption drives or urge people to go to the shelters, which often are not in very popular areas, so they're more or less isolated. We wanted to bring this into an area where a lot of people frequent, somewhere like East Coast Park, so that we can make the adoption of animals a mainstream thing and provide a venue where there's a dog run, there is a dog adoption centre, a cat adoption centre, a rabbit adoption centre.

“There's an area where animal welfare groups can gather and give talks to the public. It's not really just about adoption. Say someone who is afraid of cats, we're going to build a nice area where they can go in, the volunteers will be there and maybe they can socialise with the cat to increase tolerance of these animals, which I think is the key word in today's context."

Animal adoption centre, dog run could feature in East Coast Park
NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 14 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE – East Coast Park could become a haven for animal lovers, potential adopters of pets and those seeking interactions with dogs, cats or rabbits, if discussions between Kembangan-Chai Chee grassroots organisation and the Ministry of National Development bear fruit.

Talks are ongoing on an animal adoption centre and a dog run for East Coast Park, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency Tan Chuan-Jin and chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Louis Ng revealed today (Dec 14).

The idea is to “build a common space for people to co-exist with animals in our midst”, said Mr Tan who, together with Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee and other volunteers, helped to raise S$10,000 at ACRES’ charity carwash at The Grandstand in Bukit Timah.

Discussions are also taking place with the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) on extending the Love Cats pilot project in Chong Pang, where residents are allowed to keep one cat per flat, to the Marine Parade area, said Mr Tan.

Mr Ng, a volunteer in Mr Tan’s Kembangan-Chai Chee ward, said the idea was mooted about two months ago and details on the timeframe, site and size of the proposed centre are not available yet. Having an adoption centre in a popular park, however, could increase adoption rates and provide a venue for animal welfare groups to gather and reach out to the wider community, he said.

Animal welfare groups urge aspiring pet owners to adopt instead of buy, but animal shelters are often not in popular areas, said Mr Ng. “A lot of people are saying, let’s focus more on adoption, let’s pass some legislation. But I think rather than always legislating, let’s make this a community norm, so people will always know every weekend in East Coast Park, there are dogs, cats, rabbits (up) for adoption. It becomes very mainstream and very part-and-parcel of our lives in Singapore.”

Having enclosed areas in the centre, where animals are free to move about, can also help change people’s minds about keeping animals in cages, he said.

The CWS and House Rabbit Society of Singapore are aware of the idea and have submitted designs for the centre. CWS chief executive Joanne Ng said the centre would enhance adoption efforts and increase interaction opportunities with cats – at its adoption drives currently, the cats are mainly in cages.

CWS’ proposal was of a space the size of a one-room flat big enough for about 10 cats and three humans, with glass or acrylic walls. The see-through panels would allow people outside the room to see how each cat socialises with humans, she said.

Action for Singapore Dogs president Ricky Yeo supported the idea of the adoption centre and its accessible location. Aside from the dog run, the centre should have rooms to hold discussions with potential adopters, as well as a holding area for the animals, he suggested.

ASD, Animal Lovers League and Save Our Street Dogs would still be shooting for a joint national adoption centre – which the groups proposed to the MND earlier this year – to house all their animals and provide space for more, he added.

East Coast Park may get pet-awareness hub
Janice Tai My Paper AsiaOne 15 Dec 14;

East Coast Park is being earmarked as a spot where visitors can interact with dogs, cats and rabbits as they roam freely. If they get on well, they could even take animals home to keep as a pet.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin revealed yesterday that such a facility is being considered, in an effort to encourage people to co-exist with animals and adopt pets rather than buy them.

Speaking on the sidelines of a charity car wash event at The Grandstand, the MP for Marine Parade GRC said: "East Coast is a great family area and we are trying to see whether we can have dog runs, and get different welfare groups to come together and promote greater awareness of animal welfare issues.

"We do have a lot of people who like pets and animals, but we also have a lot of people who are uncomfortable, so I think the key thing is to find and create the common space."

As part of a larger push to encourage people to adopt animals, he said that his grassroots leaders are also in discussion with the Cat Welfare Society to see if it can extend a pilot project in which residents are allowed to keep cats in Housing Board (HDB) flats from Chong Pang to Marine Parade.

HDB bans cats from its blocks as they can cause disturbance to neighbours.

Mr Louis Ng, chief executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said the new rent-free animal adoption centre would not just be about increasing the animal adoption rate in Singapore.

"It is an area where we can learn about animal behaviour and increase our tolerance of these animals in our community," said Mr Ng, who has joined the People's Action Party and volunteers in the Kembangan-Chai Chee ward under Mr Tan.

"If you see dogs or cats in the community, but you are scared of them, here's an area where you can go and our volunteers will be there to assist you in overcoming your fears."

Details such as the timeframe and possible site for the project are not yet known, as Acres and Kembangan-Chai Chee grassroots leaders are still in talks with the Ministry of National Development. If realised, it will be the first hub of its kind.

Student Ross Lam, 18, who volunteers at an animal shelter every week, said: "Many of our animal shelters are in far-flung areas such as Pasir Ris Farmway, and people hardly go there.

"By having this at a popular public area, people can see the animals running freely instead of in cages, and perhaps they would be more open to adopting them after they learn how to approach them or look after them."