Bukit Batok Dogs (BB Dogs)

Most of you would have read about the Bukit Batok (BB) Dogs. They have been living in the forested area along the Bukit Batok MRT track for the past few years. The general populace mostly ignored them, and because no one made any effort to sterilize, the stray population grew. This made the pack stronger and things slowly got out of hand.
There are many factors that contributed to current circumstances. Firstly, the town councils and feeders should have sterilized them before they reproduced and grew to such a large population; their mistake is that they ignored the situation till it got out of hand, and are now trying to solve things by curbing the population.
Dogs playing and minding their own business
Another is irresponsible feeding. People, who feel sorry for the dogs and want to feed them, throw packets of food on the ground near the forest. This encourages the dogs to leave the forest to eat and to also look for more food. Day by day, they get braver. At the same time, these people who think they  are doing the dogs a favour by feeding them, do not realize that they have in fact done something really selfish. The food that they throw along the slope but do not clean up after, cause a mess, leaving other people to blame the dogs for causing this problem, therefore a nuisance to the community. They believe that if it weren’t for the dogs, there wouldn’t be waste and food discarded along common property, left to rot. This is a perception that we should change. If people want to help, they should feed responsibly. If you feed a stray, always return to the spot and clean up any leftover food. Do not let the dogs get blamed for your mess.

Watch video of the dogs at the MRT station http://youtu.be/YUwHbWwAlAQ 

The forested area and the grass patch beside the escalator at the MRT station have become the dogs’ playground. With the appearance of the pest controllers who were hired by Jurong Town Council to forcibly remove the dogs, this has unsettled the dogs as we have encroached into their territory. By trying to remove them from their homes, we have disturbed their peace. Imagine if someone came into your house and tried to throw you and your family out, wouldn’t you be angry too? Wouldn’t you fight to protect your family and your home? 

We do not know how many dogs there are but having observed the site at various times of the day, we can see 3 adult dogs and 4 puppies (about 6 months old). These puppies will mature soon, go into heat and reproduce again, thus growing the pack. The puppies seem friendlier and less wary of humans; perhaps we can approach them if there is a same person to feed them regularly to build trust – then they can be caught, sterilized and rehomed.

The adult dogs however may need a while longer to be rehomed as they seem feral and not used to human contact, having lived in the forested area most of their lives. They may need some time to be rehabilitated, if at all. Not all dogs want to be rehomed; not all dogs can be rehomed. Some free-ranging dogs love their freedom and may never adapt to living in a home with a human family. For those that are feral, one possible solution is to sterilize them and return them to the forested area - the only home they know, their safe haven that we have intruded upon. After sterilizing the adult dogs and rehoming the younger dogs, hopefully they no longer pose a threat to the public because the pack size would have decreased. Thereafter, we could work something out with the feeders in that area. They can be taught to feed responsibly and everyone would then live in harmony. The dogs will be left alone in their forested home and the humans can continue living their lives.

See the dogs at the MRT http://youtu.be/ArAYD_xKPSw

We receive so many emails and messages every day asking us to do something about the situation, but what do they expect us to do? Boarding, rehabilitating and rehoming them take money and effort, we don’t have the funds to pay for their boarding and maintain them long term until they find homes. Living in the forested area, we suspect the majority of these dogs will also have heartworm, so a medical check for them would be a must. People have the misconception that we have a shelter that can endlessly store strays and homeless dogs, but unfortunately that is far from the truth – we do not have a shelter. With the recent rescue of the 7 Bukit Batok puppies, on top of the existing dogs we’ve previously rescued, our volunteers and fosters have their hands full as we have yet to rehome all of them.

Puppies looking at us (taken from camera phone at night)
People write in to complain on the pretext that they care for the dogs, complaining that we only helped the puppies, that we are too slow to react, that we do not care about the rest of the pack. My question then is, why do these people who are so quick to comment, not do anything themselves to help the situation? I have often come across many cases where people report strays or abandoned dogs to us, expecting us to react immediately, to take over the situation and rescue the dog. They think that they have done their job by just writing an email or calling us, hoping that by pushing the responsibility to someone else, they are relieved of that burden. And when we are too slow or too overburdened to do anything, we get accused of not caring.

If everyone made an effort to rehome ONE dog, the dogs would not be in the danger they are in today nor would they be deemed a public nuisance. These dogs are in their current position because of us humans.

Younger dogs playing and wanting to be friends http://youtu.be/Ggp2GWhnufs

We recently had a meeting with the town council, a government agency and another animal welfare group in attendance. The authorities have asked the animal welfare groups to help but to date no one has stepped forth. The sad truth is that the animal welfare groups are either running full house at their shelters, have too much on their hands or lack manpower to rehabilitate these dogs. There are too many abandoned dogs or strays that we are trying to help but we don’t have enough help from people. Strangely, SPCA was not involved in this incident; perhaps they didn’t think this was their responsibility as this isn’t a clear case of animal cruelty.

We have asked the town council to help by renting commercial kennels to house these dogs, while they can be rehabilitated and rehomed, but I am not optimistic that we will get what we asked for.

My wish is that all animal welfare groups in Singapore and even individual rescuers, commit to taking one or two dogs to care for. If the load were shared amongst a few groups, then the financial burden would be easier to bear.

Do not spend your time emailing complaints, asking people to do something when you are doing NOTHING. Only email us if you can commit to helping one dog – we will link you up with the town council. If everyone just takes one dog and help rehabilitate and rehome, these dogs will escape death. It is really that simple.

If you wish to help, please contact Fiona (fiona@hopedogrescue.org). Our promise is that we will take on more dogs as soon as we rehome all the 7 puppies we rescued recently.

Due to never-ending complaints from the public, this week the pest control will start trapping these dogs again because they can no longer wait. The situation is getting out of hand. We have been there to witness several run-ins between the pack and the humans, and it is not promising. Once caught, AVA will hold any trapped dog for up to 10 days, after which, we don’t know what kind of fate awaits them.
Do something before it’s too late.
Written by Elaine Quek for Fiona