SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Thursday (Dec 21) it is working closely with animal welfare groups (AWGs) and veterinarians to embark on a five-year Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM) programme to manage the stray dog population in Singapore.
This is AVA's first sterilisation programme for stray dogs, the authority said, stressing that it is a "humane and science-based method" to reduce the stray dog population in the country.
"This will be done by humanely catching stray dogs and sterilising them. Efforts will be made to rehome as many of the sterilised animals as possible," AVA said.
AVA added that dogs that are unable to be rehomed will be released at suitable locations to live out their lives naturally.
The authority has set a target to sterilise more than 70 per cent of the stray dogs in Singapore within five years.
"Based on scientific literature and mathematical modelling, a sustained sterilisation rate of 70 per cent or more is necessary to stabilise a stray dog population, before it begins to come down," AVA said.
Ms Jessica Kwok, group director of AVA’s animal management group, said the sterilisation programme is a "humane and sustainable solution" to manage stray dogs in Singapore.
"The TNRM programme will be complemented by regulation of the pet industry to enhance traceability of dogs, control over import and export of pet dogs, licensing of pet dogs at source, and tough penalties on pet abandonment," Ms Kwok said.
"We would also like to assure the public that during the implementation of this programme, AVA will continue to safeguard public health and safety,” she added.
The programme is slated to start in the second half of 2018.
PROGRAMME 'STRONGLY SUPPORTED' BY ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS
AVA said it began seeking feedback and suggestions from animal welfare groups and the veterinary community on the initiative from June this year, and has received strong support from these organisations.
Eleven animal welfare groups have agreed to participate in the programme, AVA added.
The groups are Action for Singapore Dogs, Animal Lovers League, Causes for Animals, Exclusively Mongrels, Mercylight, Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter, Noah's Ark CARES, Purely Adoptions, Save Our Street Dogs, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Voices for Animals.
AVA said these groups will play a "crucial supportive and facilitative role" in the implementation of this programme by, for example, helping to galvanise stray feeders and volunteers.
AVA noted that some welfare groups have also been conducting their own sterilisation programmes in localised areas for many years.
"Their dedication and expertise will be incorporated into this nationwide approach," AVA said.
Commenting on the programme, executive director of SPCA Jaipal Singh Gill called it a "game changer for street dogs in Singapore" and his organisation was "thrilled" with the implementation.
"We are very pleased to see so many stakeholders, including the government, animal welfare groups and veterinarians, coming together with a shared vision and approach to humanely reduce the street dog population,” Dr Singh said.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that through this programme, the government hopes to manage Singapore’s stray dog issue in "a humane manner, based on science and data, and in the spirit of community partnership".
"This work will not be easy. We need the patience and support of the public, and the partnership of other animal welfare groups, vets and responsible animal feeders," said Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development.