The Singapore government will build and manage facilities for animal welfare groups to operate shelters and for pet farms, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement on Monday (21 Nov).
And while such groups that Yahoo Singapore spoke to welcomed the move, they also expressed reservations about the space that would be allocated to them.
Most of the animal shelters and pet farms currently located in Loyang and Seletar will need to move out of their current premises by end-2017, when their leases expire, the AVA said.
The new facilities will be built in Sungei Tengah by the end of next year and managed by the AVA. They will have two storeys and “sufficient space for the existing number of animals” currently residing at the affected shelters and pet farms.
The agency will also continue to engage the various stakeholders on the design specifications of the facilities.
A long standing issue
The various stakeholders were notified of the move during a meeting with Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee last week, according to participants present.
It came out of the blue for Save Our Singapore Dogs (SOSD) president Siew Tuck Wah, who was “very, very surprised”. SOSD, which is based in the Pasir Ris Farmway area, currently houses about 100 dogs. Its lease is up in May 2017.
“Through the years, we gave them various proposals but they never told us their plans,” noted Siew. This included allocating land that the animal welfare groups could bid for, or even allocating tender-free land to them.
“But they went one step further, and decided to build the facilities and then lease to us. So it’s even better, because we don’t have to worry about raising a lump sum. The outcome is very good for everyone.”
Siew reckoned that the various animal welfare groups would have had to raise between $10 and $15 million to buy a plot of land and build the different shelters.
He pointed out that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) spent about $8 million on its new premises in Sungei Tengah Road.
But the SOSD president also noted that there were still fears among the various groups about the space allocated and the layout, a concern which Causes for Animals Singapore (CAS) co-founder Christine Bernadette shares.
“The space given to each animal welfare group has not been told to us. We don’t know if the space given is sufficient, and the animals may end up being cooped up in a very tight space.
“When that happens, they tend to quarrel and fight, and that doesn’t give visitors a good impression. This may make it harder for them to be adopted.”
Bernadette, whose shelter currently houses some 30-odd animals, added that the timeline for construction and moving out of the current premises is very tight.
“But of course beggars can’t be choosers, so I guess we just have to settle for whatever we are given. We are not hoping for very much, we are just thankful that there is somewhere to go,” said Bernadette.