Animal welfare groups close hotlines

Animal welfare groups close hotlines

SINGAPORE - Callers expect them to take in their unwanted pets and flame them online if their calls are unanswered.

These are some of the reasons why animal welfare groups have had to shut down their public hotlines in recent years.

Action for Singapore Dogs closed its public hotline a year ago after running it for five years. Out of about 20 calls received on a busy day, half were about "frivolous demands", said its president Ricky Yeo, whose group has been rescuing and re-homing stray and abandoned dogs for 12 years.

"Callers would ask, 'Can you take in my dog? I no longer have time for it' or 'My children have outgrown it'," he said.

Some would call him "useless" and "good for nothing" when he explained that the group lacked the manpower and space to deal with their requests.

One volunteer who manned the hotline about three years ago gave up after a month, added Mr Yeo, 45. He said: "She said she nearly had a nervous breakdown and couldn't sleep at night."

Teacher Christine Bernadette, 24, has also dealt with unusual demands in her five years as an animal rescue volunteer, after she posted her contact number online when she first started. "People would call non-stop, asking me to take in their pet, and threatening to euthanise it or let it go on the streets if I refused," she said.

So, when she started her own animal welfare group, Causes for Animals, earlier this year, she edited her online details, stating that she could be reached only through text messages. She would follow up with a call only if the request was an emergency, for instance.

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