SINGAPORE - East Coast Park is being earmarked for a spot where visitors can interact with dogs, cats and rabbits as the animals roam freely. If they get on well, the visitors could even take them home to keep as pets.
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin revealed yesterday that such a facility is being considered, in an effort to encourage people to co-exist with animals and adopt pets rather than buy them.
Speaking on the sidelines of a charity car wash at The Grandstand, the MP for Marine Parade GRC said: "East Coast is a great family area and we are trying to see whether we can have dog runs and get different welfare groups to come together and promote greater awareness of animal welfare issues.
"We do have a lot of people who like pets and animals but we also have a lot of people who are uncomfortable, so I think the key thing is to find and create the common space."
As part of a larger push to encourage people to adopt animals, he said his grassroots leaders are also in discussion with the Cat Welfare Society about extending a pilot project, in which residents can keep cats in HDB flats, from Chong Pang to Marine Parade.
The HDB bans cats from its blocks as they can cause a disturbance to neighbours. Mr Louis Ng, chief executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said the new rent-free animal adoption centre will not just be about increasing the animal adoption rate here.
"It is an area where we can learn about animal behaviour and increase our tolerance of these animals in our community," said Mr Ng, who has joined the People's Action Party and volunteers in the Kembangan-Chai Chee ward under Mr Tan. "If you see dogs or cats in the community but you are scared of them, here's an area where you can go and our volunteers will be there to assist you in overcoming your fears."
Details such as the timeframe and possible site for the project are not yet known, as Acres and Kembangan-Chai Chee grassroots leaders are still in talks with the Ministry of National Development. If realised, it would be the first hub of its kind.
Student Ross Lam, 18, who volunteers at an animal shelter every week, said: "Many of our animal shelters are in far-flung areas such as Pasir Ris Farmway, and people hardly go there.
"By having this at a popular public area, people can see the animals running freely instead of in cages, and perhaps they would be more open to adopting them after they learn how to approach them or look after them."
This article was first published on Dec 15, 2014.
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