Animal welfare groups running short of funds

Despite the usual bump in donations over the year-end holiday period, when more are willing to whip out their wallets for charity, animal welfare groups say they are still woefully short of funds for the coming year.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which will move from its current premises in Mount Vernon Road to a space in Kranji three times larger later this month, has raised only 3 per cent of the remaining $1 million needed to make its final payment to the builders.

SPCA deputy executive director Selina Sebastian said that while the organisation is confident that it will be able to continue to function while it strives to raise the remaining amount, "without funds, the SPCA may temporarily cease its operations".

With a larger shelter comes higher operating costs, she added. The SPCA's new 7,700 sq m premises include rehabilitation and education centres, among other facilities.

"As we do not receive government funding, we need to fund- raise and will continue to find novel ways to do so," said Ms Sebastian.

The Cat Welfare Society (CWS), the main cat welfare group here, almost had to stop its work last September due to insufficient funds.

CWS president Thenuga Vijakumar said that the society has enough to push forward shortly into this year, but its survival will depend on consistent income.

It aims to raise $600,000 this year to meet the demands for sterilisation and mediation services.

"Because we help both the cat community and the human community by working with town councils and statutory bodies, there is a misconception that we are funded by the Government," said Ms Vijakumar.

" We rely very heavily on individuals for donations - not many corporate bodies come forward because animals do not register on a corporate social responsibility KPI (key performance indicator) the way human beings do. Animal welfare as a charity sector is still in an infancy stage."

SOSD, formerly known as Save our Street Dogs, will hold its annual fund-raiser, SOSD Flag Day, next month and hopes to raise $200,000.

Its president Siew Tuck Wah said: "We aim to have 1,200 flag collectors, but unfortunately we are very far from the target with only 100 sign-ups so far."

This year, it will also raise money for a new shelter as its lease in Pasir Ris Farmway 2 is up next year.

"We don't have a location yet because there is no land open that's zoned for animal welfare," said Dr Siew, who quit his job at an aesthetic clinic three months ago to manage SOSD full time.

SOSD's operating expenses last year were more than $522,000, nearly half of which went to veterinary bills.

Costs are expected to go up by another 20 per cent this year.

Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter, which houses around 100 dogs in Pasir Ris Farmway 2, is also facing an uncertain future.

Co-founder Mary Soo, 68, also the vice-chairman of SPCA, said: "We're very worried because even if we can stay, the land will be very expensive. We're not sure whether we will be able to pay the rent.

"Once the lease is up we really have nowhere to go, so I'm thinking maybe I just have to sell my house and get a piece of land in Malaysia and move the dogs there if there's no choice.

"I mean, how to let them die? After so many years, there is this bond, they are my children."

This article was first published on January 4 , 2016.
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