|The New Paper 5 April 2013|
3 April 2013. Between 7pm to 9pm, I had received this message on my mobile phone, sent by more than 15 different people, many of whom I didn’t even know. Jurong Town Council was “curbing the stray population” right next to Bukit Batok MRT. Fellow volunteers, Lily and Lisa, had just rehomed a dog together with me and we decided to head down to see if we could help the dogs in any way.
When we arrived and parked, we noticed 2 trucks from Star Pests Control at the car park across from the MRT station. We weren’t sure if they were the company engaged to curb the stray population, or was it pure coincidence that they were there. In any case, as we ran across the road towards the MRT station, we could hear many dogs barking, their barks were pitiful, stressful and fearful. Some had barked themselves hoarse while others sounded as if they were on the verge of losing their voices. I wondered how many days had they endured this distress of having humans encroach into their homes and trying to kill them.
I felt very sorry for them. They ran desperately from one end of the hill to the other end, trying to escape evil humans who had no patience with them, no compassion or heart. Instead of working with animal welfare groups to trap and rehome, they took the easy way out, engaged a pest control company to get rid of what they deemed as pests.
|Onlookers watching the poor dogs run for their lives|
More than 50 onlookers watched from the MRT station, mainly dog lovers who were there out of concern, and some passers-by, on the way home from work. Volunteers from various animal welfare groups were there. Some braved the steep slope with torches, entering the densely forested area to search for traps and to check if the dogs were safe from harm.
More friends and volunteers from HOPE rushed down. As it got later, the crowd thinned to just our volunteers and a handful of animal lovers. The slope was extremely slippery from the long grass and early downpour but Leslie, Shawn and my friend, Derrick (Voices For Animals), armed with powerful torches, scaled the slope and went into the forested area for the umpteenth time, refusing to give up.
|Shawn making his way into the forest (Photo courtesy of Lawrence Chong)|
We watched with bated breath as we caught the occasional flashes of light from the forest, and listened to the poor dogs bark in defense and fear. This lasted for almost 20 minutes when suddenly, it all went quiet and all of us on the ground peered up the slope. There was total silence then we heard Derrick call out – there are 7 puppies! Everyone got excited at the thought of being able to save these lives. Volunteers, Rina and Lisa, ran to the van to get boxes and towels to standby. Then we heard the voice again – I got the puppies, I am coming down! And then Derrick appeared with 7 puppies bundled in his shirt. Leslie and Shawn checked around that no pups were left behind, before they made their way down the slippery slope.
|Derrick coming down the slope with the rescued puppies wrapped in this shirt (Photo courtesy of Lawrence Chong)|
|3 males and 4 females|
They were dirty and muddy but the thought that they had saved 7 tiny lives made it all worthwhile. They were exhausted from the rescue. In all, it was almost 3 hours as we spent time climbing up and down different parts of the hill, trying to get close to the dogs.
The volunteers and onlookers each took a puppy home as it was almost 2am by then and the puppies had nowhere to go.
During the hours we were there, I overheard a lot of talk; people complained the dogs were noisy, they chased joggers, they came out to the HDB area, etc that’s why Jurong Town Council engaged a pest control company to get rid of the pests.WHY?
There are so many animal welfare groups in Singapore, why can’t the Town Council approach the various welfare groups? Instead of “curbing the stray population”, they could have offered to trap them and hand them over to the various groups, whom I am sure, would be happy to help rehome these dogs. It takes a little more effort on their part, but isn’t it better than having blood on their hands?
I am very happy that we saved these seven little puppies, who don’t look more than 6 weeks old, and am grateful to all the people who helped save them, as well as foster them for the night.
I hope that people would come forth to adopt these cute little puppies, to free us from fostering them, and allowing us to go and try to save the others who are still fighting for their lives on top of that hill. The hill they call Home.
And after all the excitement and joy, I realized that today is World Animal Stray Day. These puppies have had a change of fate. Adopt them. They have a bright journey ahead!