As part of Hope Dog Rescue’s sterilization initiative to curb the stray dog population here in Singapore, we’ve adopted the Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programme. It is a strong belief that sterilization is the way to go to help control the stray population, rather than culling.
Over the years, we’ve been carrying out our work in the industrial estates: educating workers on the importance of sterilization, teaching them how to check if a dog has been sterilized through the widely used method of ear-tipping by vets, supplying food to kind caregivers/workers who feed and care for the dogs living in their compound. We have seen so many puppies born in very sad and harsh living conditions - in bushes, under heavy trucks, containers, oils spills everywhere, mud, broken glass pieces, whatever you name it, it’s probably there. And it’s a common sight to see industrial rats, with many of them much larger in size than the new born puppies. Sometimes, these rats end up feasting on the new born puppies, while they are very much alive, just unable to move and protect themselves as they are barely a few days/weeks old. It is indeed a very sorry sight and not something anyone wishes to see, especially on a regular basis.
|Two female dogs caught last week for sterilization|
Hope Dog Rescue sterilizes both male and female dogs, basically, any dog we can get near to and catch. There are some who are very wary of humans, and despite feeding them for years, we have not been able to go anywhere within 3 meters from them. And sadly, these are the ones that will keep giving birth, twice a year, over and over again until they die. Life is sad for a stray dog, and much sadder for an unsterilized female stray dog. Just imagine being gang raped twice a year, all through your life?
A female dog usually comes in heat twice a year, starting from the age of between 5 to 8 months young. What this mean is that a puppy of 5 months young will be mated on and then give birth to more puppies, at that tender age of just 5 months! Shouldn’t puppies at this age be playing, enjoying life with not a care in the world, getting good food, a good night sleep every single night and be showered with lots of love? In fact, shouldn’t all dogs of all ages, gender and breed be enjoying the same?
Hope Dog Rescue sterilizes street dogs 4 months and above. Over the past 8 years, we have found that it is a lot easier to catch a young dog, when they are still trusting of humans. As these street dogs grow, they often become more wary of humans, often through the suffering and abuses they’ve received from humans, sowing the distrust in them and making them near impossible to catch. Another reason could also be that the dog is not comfortable with human contact. One of the most possible reasons is that the dog does not have a factory worker or caregiver to render him/her the occasional attention, love and pats, and thus, the wariness towards humans.
|Sweet 5 month old female puppy|
On the average, our volunteers spend between 1 to 2 nights per week in industrial estates, either liaising and working with the factory workers to help us to catch the dogs for sterilization, or catching the dogs all on our own. It is hard work, one that requires lots of patience. Our volunteers will usually go down after work for the catch and they often do not end till 10pm or 11pm. Most times, the wait will take some hours before they manage to catch a dog or two, if they’re lucky. Once the dog is caught, the volunteers have to ensure the dog is comfortable, thereafter liaising with the workers to leave the dog at a safe place for the night. The following morning, our paid pet transport will pick up the dog and head to the vet for sterilization, vaccination and ear tip.
Just last week, we managed to catch 2 dogs from a worksite that is due to move to a new premise. Apparently, this new premise - a new flatted factory, has some rules and regulations that depict maximum 2 dogs will be allowed. Of the 2 dogs that we’ve caught, one was a sweet female puppy about 5 months old, and the other was an adult female dog. Due to the very poor and filthy living conditions that they live in, there will be a high chance of their wound getting infected if we release them immediately. Therefore, generally, we let these dogs recuperate at the vet for 2 to 3 days after sterilization to allow their wound to heal properly. By doing this, we inevitably accumulate more vet bills, but nevertheless, it is something that we must and will do for the dogs’ welfare.
|This is her home|
By the time we released these 2 dogs back to their worksite, the factory had moved out, leaving behind an empty plot of oil and dirt, and a pack of 10 dogs or so. The only consolation we could have is that ALL the dogs that were left behind have all been sterilized by Hope Dog Rescue, and even if these dogs wander off to a new location, they have already been sterilized and will not reproduce to add on to the stray population.
|Returning to nothing|
|Where's my home?|
The saddest part of this TNR programme definitely has got to be returning the dogs back to their harsh and unkind reality. Watching them run happily out of the carrier, speeding down the filthy pathways to the dangerous worksite, to reunite and play with their friends is a heart wrenching moment. There is basically nothing left behind for them - no caregivers, no food, nothing. Just friends they call their own. Yet, they are so overjoyed to return to this place they actually call home. Just as I am writing this and visualising that moment, tears just flow. It is indeed very sad for each of our volunteers, every single time we have to release them back, but we must trudge forward with the belief that sterilization will help to curb the stray population. We hope that one day, with a controlled population these poor stays will no longer pose as a “nuisance” to the public, leading to the drop of complaints towards them, which in turn takes them away as the target of AVA’s culling.
We would love to help these dogs by starting with this sweet 5 month old puppy, taking her away from the worksite but we do not have the means to do so. We need a foster who will take her in for at least 3 months, not any foster who will take her in and then give up after a few days, thereby sending us on a foster rampage again. Please do bear in mind that as she is fresh from the streets, she will most likely not be able to walk on leash nor be paper trained yet. Even things that we take for granted, like drinking from a water bowl, they sometimes need to be taught because they have been drinking from oily puddles all their lives. In addition, neither do we know if she gets along well with other dogs, as urban living would be a whole new world for her. This will mean that the foster will need to be very patient to train her and not give up on her.
If you can foster her, please email us at email@example.com.