OSCAS newsletter - June 28, 2018
Dear Friends of OSCAS,
RELOCATION 8, 9, 10 JUNE 2018
As you will note from the address on this letterhead, the relocation finally took place after a number of delays. From December 2017 to March 2018 and then finally June 2018. The final confirmed readiness of the new premises in March gave us a very tight schedule for preparation as we found out that there were a myriad of building requirements we had to arrange on our own. For instance, we were told that we had to arrange for the electrical installations of our 5 units ourselves, meaning we had to appoint our own licensed electrical engineer to take responsibility for the whole process leading to final licensing by the SP Services. Prior to our engineer’s submission to SP Services, each electrical diagram for each unit had to be endorsed by the Landlord’s engineer at a fee. Being laymen, we were caught by surprise as we thought we were just moving into a ready shelter where all we had to do was pay our monthly dues at affordable charity rates.
What was most nerve-racking was the struggle to meet the 15 June deadline to vacate Ericsson Pet Farm in Pasir Ris. Ericsson needed time to demolish/reinstate the land for return to the relevant authorities. We had less than two months to prepare for renovation for our big migration, taking into consideration all the application approvals we had to apply for on our own and going through the long list of defects with the building management. Sadly the building was built with the most basic quality and at this early stage we are already encountering serious problems.
Well, this is all water under the bridge now and we are pretty well adapted to living with unsolvable defects (what can be done with hollow walls that can be bitten through by our canine kids). What is most important is that 98% of the dogs we have successfully moved within 2 days have adapted well (3rd day move was for miscellaneous items). Dogs are marvellous beings and certainly have qualities humans can learn from. They do not indulge in self-pity although life is so much more unpleasant for them in their new home. Their individual kennel space is so much smaller and instead of being able to laze around looking out for their favourite volunteers to visit, or watching other curious people peering at them, or watching other dogs going for walks, they now face the 4 walls. Fortunately, we have our wonderful teams of volunteers (both expatriates and locals) coming regularly in spite of the distance and inconvenience of transportation, to walk them around the forested vicinity. We hope this will be sustained.
From the noticeable clearing of land, looks like even the beauty of nature will soon be lost.
CRITICAL SITUATIONS AT NEW SHELTER
1. Worker situation - Unlike the commercial players, we charity AWGs do not qualify to apply for the employment of foreign workers. In the past, our rental package with Ericsson included assignment of a foreign worker to work for us. We AWGs are now in a dire state as majority of us cannot afford to employ local workers in view of the high salaries and attendant legal employment terms. We have appealed to AVA for help but as they are independent from the Ministry of Manpower there is not much they can do except to issue us with a letter in support of our appeal. With 5 units spread upstairs and downstairs, we need at least two workers.
2. Volunteers - Sungei Tengah is in a very remote part of Singapore. There is no convenient MRT station within walking distance and neither is there a bus stop close by. The nearest MRT station is Choa Chu Kang and then you have to take a bus to the nearest bus stop to Sungei Tengah where you have to tread uphill (3 km) to where the shelter is.
Majority of our volunteers come from the East and with our migration to the West, there is already a noticeable reduction in the number of regular volunteers. Moreover, for those who drive, they are reluctant to stay the usual long hours as they find the parking fees of $1.20 per hour daunting compared with the free parking everyone used to enjoy at Pasir Ris farmway. Not even possible to buy a season parking ($90 per month) as this is restricted to one season parking ticket for each tenant (irrespective of whether you are a tenant with one unit or 10 units). Parking lots are also very limited and to park along the road you risk getting a police ticket as there is a white line running down the road. We can only hope to attract more volunteers living in the West.
AVA REHOMING PARTNER
We are now a rehoming partner of AVA. Each month, from the stray dogs rounded up, AVA will select about a dozen of those with excellent temperament for rehoming partners to adopt with the ultimate purpose of finding suitable homes for them. Due to space and financial constraints, we have so far adopted 3 who were not selected and were scheduled to be culled by a certain deadline. They were just unfortunate that they were released among a group of puppies who invariably are easier to rehome. These full grown dogs are nevertheless of excellent temperament and definitely will be loving pets.
The description Rehoming Partner is far-reaching than the definition it portrays. As a rehoming partner, we are also involved in discussions encompassing areas pertaining to most animal welfare issues. Unlike the days of old when all decisions were strictly confined within the AVA and relevant authorities, the AVA has opened its doors to welcome participative dialogs with animal welfare groups. A very appreciated move indeed.
TRAP, NEUTER AND RELEASE MANAGEMENT (TNRM)
With the help of dog-loving ministers (Mr. Shanmugan and Mr. Desmond Lee) a humane method of reducing the stray population is being introduced. Instead of the ancient rule of just killing strays, the introduction of the TNRM is a great step towards cultivating a kinder and compassionate society. Rehoming partners will take on specific areas in Singapore to help manage the strays by arranging for trapping the dogs, serilising them and then after they have recovered from the surgery, release them back to their homes in the forested areas. Rehoming partners will also be working with stray-feeders in ensuring that feeding is done in a responsible manner.
This is a major task and will require the co-operation and appreciation of every member of society, irrespective of whether the person is an animal lover or not. We need to live in harmony with nature and learn to protect its living beings that do not pose a threat to society.
Our immediate biggest challenge is how to sustain the shelter. Henceforth, we have the very expensive running cost of the premises to contend with apart from the expected high vet bills in view of our aging furkids.
A rough indication of what our increase look like :-
When the authorities came to talk to us about the move last year, we were assured that rental would be cheaper than what we were paying. At that point, we were not aware that each unit could only accommodate 20/23 medium sized dogs. We were also not aware that there will be a service charge imposed of S$530 per unit. And we were not aware that we would not have any recourse for employing a foreign worker. When all these came to light, we really had no choice as we had no where to go. Ultimately all commercial pet businesses as well as animal welfare groups (with the exception of the SPCA) will have to come under one roof – the AVA Animal Lodge at Sungei Tengah.
The above figures have not even factored in veterinary bills and food. We are fortunate in that there are a number of very kind donors and supporters who help us out in these two areas. We truly hope that our kind friends and supporters will always include us in their acts of charity.
We do not run any commercial business. Our main source of income comes by way of donations and sponsorship of our dogs.
Thank you very much for your invaluable support. Our furkids are indeed fortunate to have compassionate friends to ensure they have a decent life in the shelter until a home comes along. But we are into a very critical situation now. The extremely high additional costs are threatening our conviction to:-
- help fugitive strays, abandoned and abused dogs with refuge and possible forever homes
- promote kindness to animals
- expel the notion that strays do not make good pets
- provide and promote the attendant message to the young the importance of love and respect for all creatures great and small
- contribute towards the building of an inclusive and kinder society
It breaks our heart to the awakening that OSCAS’s 13 years of hard work may soon be shattered.
Our plea goes out to you, friends and kind supporters of OSCAS. Please continue to help us. It is estimated that there are still close to 10,000 fugitive dogs out there desperately in need of help. Please give OSCAS the ability to continue to do its part for these poor dogs.
As always, our sincere thanks from all of us at OSCAS.