Singapore has started its first official programme to sterilise stray dogs here, in a bid to control their numbers without culling.
The pilot project on Jurong Island, which has an estimated 300 stray dogs, was launched yesterday, with Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam as the guest of honour.
"Many of us are concerned about stray dogs in Singapore... and this is a trial project to see if we can avoid culling," said the dog lover in a Facebook post.
Jurong Island was chosen to test the "trap, neuter and release" method as it is a controlled environment where other stray dogs cannot get in or out, said animal welfare groups involved in the project.
Asked whether there are plans to expand the programme, they replied that it would depend on the results of the trial.
State industrial landlord JTC has built a facility on the island where the dogs will be sterilised, and it is also providing funding.
It is working with the following animal welfare groups: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) and Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD).
Acres will manage the project, while ASD and SOSD will handle the day-to-day operations.
Acres executive director Louis Ng said the programme was a very big step forward for Singapore in its management of stray dogs.
"I hope this project shows that our society cares about the welfare of animals and also the safety of our residents," he said.
The project is expected to be more effective than culling.
In a note comparing the "trap, neuter and release" method with culling, Mr Shanmugam noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had found culling street dogs ineffective in controlling the spread of rabies.
Instead, the WHO said mass vaccination of a significant portion of street dogs has been proven to be a better way to prevent the disease's spread.
Neutered dogs are also less aggressive and more affectionate, and neutering results in fewer street dogs over time, according to Mr Shanmugam's post.
In contrast, "culling is indiscriminate, and the problem dog is seldom the dog that is caught". Street dogs also tend to breed and replace those that have been culled.
The neutering method has a one-time cost of about $1 million as the street dog population will naturally decline afterwards. In contrast, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority spends over $700,000 annually on culling.
Mr Shanmugam also posted photographs of the first female dog to be neutered under the programme.
"She is physically healthy after the neutering and (has been) micro-chipped, and happy to be back in familiar surroundings," he said.
This article was first published on Dec 6, 2014.
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