Casting call for mongrels who can 'bark fiercely' and 'chase after people' draws flak

Casting call for mongrels who can 'bark fiercely' and 'chase after people' draws flak
PHOTO: Facebook/Exclusively Mongrels Limited

SINGAPORE - Stereotypes don't just apply to people -- they apply to animals, too, as broadcasting company Mediacorp discovered when they raised the hackles of dog lovers over the long weekend.

On Monday (May 1), local non-profit organisation Exclusively Mongrels Limited posted a series of screenshots detailing a Facebook conversation with a Mediacorp crew member. The crew member had approached Exclusively Mongrels to request for their help in sourcing for a mongrel to cast in a drama scene. According to the screenshots, the requirements included the mongrel being able to "bark fiercely" and "chase after ppl".

Mongrels are mixed-breed dogs that make up a vast majority of the stray dog population in Singapore.

Exclusively Mongrels explained to the Mediacorp member that they would not assist them in doing so, as doing so would further perpetuate the stereotype that mongrels are "fierce and aggressive", which goes against Exclusively Mongrels' efforts to support and promote mongrel welfare, as well as to improve the image of mongrels in the public eye.

on Facebook

When most Animal Welfare Groups and individual rescuers are working so hard to change the mindset of the general public...

Posted by Exclusively Mongrels Limited on Monday, 1 May 2017

The Mediacorp member then said that they were searching for a mongrel as the scene was to be filmed at Lim Chu Kang Cemetary, hence rendering other dog breeds, such as golden retrievers or labradors, unsuitable candidates.

Exclusively Mongrels firmly refused to support them, and added, "Your guys are not helping our cause at all."

They later added in a comment on the post:

"We are not about to let a scene that will likely last no more than 3 min negate the good efforts made by (Exclusively Mongrels and other animal welfare groups)."

Singaporean netizens were divided in their reactions to the post, but most were supportive of Exclusively Mongrels' stand on the matter.

Many praised their refusal to render their support to the filming of the show and their resolve on improving the perception of mongrels. They also called upon Mediacorp to rethink the portrayal of the mongrels in the show, and expressed hope that Mediacorp could adjust the scene to place mongrels in a better light.

Some, however, felt that Exclusively Mongrels was making a mountain out of a molehill. Facebook user Christopher Li said, "If people are gullible and stupid enough to be influenced on their view of mongrels by a tv scene, then let them be lor."

This drew heated debate from other netizens, such as Facebook user Theng Wei Gan, who wrote in response: "Do you know how many strays get caught and culled when the authority acts on 'gullible and stupid' people's complaints each year? In 2015, there were more than 900 dogs put to sleep. We have enough gullibility and stupidity amongst us. Why perpetuate that?"

According to the Ministry of National Development, there were an estimated 7,000 stray dogs in Singapore in 2015, 942 of which were culled.

SOSD Singapore, a volunteer-run organisation dedicated to sterilising and rehoming Singapore's street dogs, writes on their website that "the culling of our strays (sic) dogs is continuing at an alarming pace".

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) rounds up stray dogs and assesses them for rehoming. If deemed suitable for rehoming, AVA then works with animal welfare groups to find them a suitable home. The SOSD wrote in their FY2015/2016 report that they took in 28 dogs from AVA that year.


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