"I refer to the letter from the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), "Culling of dogs a necessary, if heartbreaking, measure: AVA" (Sept 3).
While I applaud the measures under consideration, I am concerned that these are aimed at the pet population, with culling remaining AVA's heartbreaking answer to stray population control.
In a July 2004 local newspaper report, AVA's Dr Leow Su Hua was quoted as saying that an average yearly cull comprises "4,300 dogs and 6,500 cats".
Adding to this figure the 10,000 animals the SPCA puts down annually, it can be seen that culling merely maintains the stray population level and is inadequate in reducing it.
I would therefore like to direct AVA's attention to legislation passed by the American state of Illinois on Aug 23 (www.aspca.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=22333).
The aim of the Illinois Public Health and Safety Animal Population Control Act (HB 315) is public protection "by decreasing the number of dangerous stray dogs and feral cats through progressive spaying and neutering programmes".
As 70 per cent of all dog bites, the cause of rabies transmission, are by un-neutered dogs, legislation features include registration fee differentials for "intact pets", and "public safety fines".
Most notably, the Act provides "funding for feral cat caretakers for spaying/neutering and vaccinating 'wild' cats though the Pet Population Control Fund". This collaboration is a logical breakthrough since care-givers would be more successful in trapping their charges.
Local support for humane measures is strong: In the same newspaper report last July, eight in 10 Singaporeans surveyed felt the culling bill of $600,000 for 2003 "was too much to pay for catching and culling strays", and "more than half of them felt it's important to channel money to animal welfare groups for re-homing or sterilisation".
Illinois, 217 times the size of Singapore, with a human population 2.8 times larger, is showing the way by addressing its stray population issues with humane, and effective measures other than culling.
I hope AVA will do the same for Singapore.
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