Volunteers to take pets to visit the elderly

An elderly resident of St Joseph's Home interacting with a Pets & Friends Care "ambassador" at the pet event held in Jurong on Sunday. The group's volunteers took dozens of their dogs, cats, tortoises and even fish to the special gathering, drawing smiles from everyone there.

SINGAPORE - Mr Liang Ding, 74, bred dogs in his younger days, but he has not interacted much with animals for many years, since diabetes made him less mobile.

He got a chance to enjoy their company again at a pet event in Jurong on Sunday, which saw the launch of a volunteer group who will take pets to visit the elderly and needy families in the area.

Pets & Friends Care volunteers, who now number about 20, went to the event accompanied by dozens of their dogs, cats, tortoises and even fish, to bring cheer to the less fortunate.

Residents in need from the Chinese Development Assistance Council and elderly residents of St Joseph's Home made up about 80 of the 2,000 or so people at the event.

"I've never seen so many animals in my life," said Mr Liang, a former port technician.

Volunteer William Chan, 27, who has a tortoise and eight fish, said: "It's so touching when you see people warm up to the animals, especially those who might not have a chance to own one."

More meet-ups and outings are being planned, although no dates have been set yet, said volunteers. A similar group has been operating in Mountbatten since May.

Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng said such initiatives help give non-pet owners an ideal opportunity to experience the responsibilities that come with owning a pet.

"This will reduce the chance of people buying pets and then abandoning the animals later when they can't cope," he said.

The event was organised in part by the People's Association's PMET division, which targets professionals, managers, executives and technicians, because of the growing number of pet owners in western Singapore.