Dog group cheers help from minister

SINGAPORE - Dog-welfare group Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) has received a waiver of its $10,079 tax bill, thanks to an appeal made by Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

The taxes were for donations that the group received between April last year and end-March, before SOSD became a registered charity in April.

According to a post on SOSD's Facebook page on Saturday, Mr Shanmugam had appealed to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore on the basis that the group had made a "technical mistake" on how it classified the donations it received.

Expressing its gratitude to the minister, the group also wrote that paying the tax amount would have put its accounts in the red, and would have a "debilitating impact" on day-to-day and rescue operations.

The post has received more than 2,200 likes from Facebook users as of 5pm yesterday.

SOSD, which was founded in July 2011, relies on ad hoc donations from the public to cover its average monthly operating costs of up to $25,000.

The funds go into the boarding of dogs at its shelter in Pasir Ris Farmway 2, rescue work and vet bills, said an information booklet on its website.

With the exception of a salaried worker who helps maintain the shelter, all its 150 members are volunteers.

This is not the first time that Mr Shanmugam has lent a hand to SOSD.

The group's president, Dr Siew Tuck Wah, told MyPaper in a phone interview that the Commissioner of Charities had earlier rejected SOSD's application to be registered as a charity.

But after the group approached Mr Shanmugam for help, the application went through, said Dr Siew, who is an aesthetic doctor by profession.

Dr Siew said the group is looking into hiring a person full-time to help handle SOSD's administrative work.

This will also enable the group to consider resuming a hotline service, which it suspended last month, in the near future.

On Sunday, the SOSD also held a flag day to raise funds for the building of a larger sanctuary, which can house up to 200 dogs, and for a nationwide sterilisation programme for stray dogs.

The new facility, which is estimated to cost $5 million, will replace the current shelter, whose lease will expire in two years' time.

Get MyPaper for more stories.