Speech by 2M Desmond Lee at the Opening of SPCA’s Upgraded Community Clinic

Jul 6, 2019 21:53

A very good evening to everyone. I am very happy to be able to join you today for the official opening of SPCA’s upgraded Community Animal Clinic.

SPCA has been caring for community animals in Singapore for well over 70 years. You have sought to raise animal health and welfare standards, as well as increase the awareness about the importance of responsible pet ownership. Thank you for the great work that you have done over the years soldiering on quietly, working behind the scenes tirelessly, to pursue this very worthy cause.

When SPCA’s clinic was opened officially in 1976, it was the first of its kind here on our island. The clinic played a very important role ensuring the health and welfare of community animals. For instance, it has provided prompt medical care and rehabilitation for many community animals, particularly rescued animals, who are often found in poor health. 

I believe that the upgraded clinic – which I just visited – will take SPCA’s efforts even further. New equipment such as an X-ray machine and blood testing facilities add to your repertoire. SPCA will now be able to provide more advanced treatment for injured or sick community animals; some are quite horrific injuries and you have managed to make a real difference to their welfare.  

In addition, SPCA’s upgraded clinic will now play a bigger role in supporting a very important movement – which we germinated many years ago between many Animal Welfare Groups, including SPCA, the community and colleagues at the then-AVA – and that is to support sterilisation services on a nationwide scale under the Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM) programme for stray dogs. 

Under this programme, the priority will be to rehome these dogs after sterilisation as far possible, or released in appropriate places. It is a humane, scientific and sustainable method – in partnership with our community, to manage population numbers to safeguard animal welfare as well as assure the public. These animals are exposed to the elements, a lack of food, and diseases. Leaving animal diseases unchecked can equally be hazardous for human health. For example, while Singapore is rabies-free, it is still present in the region directly around us, and we must continue to be vigilant – for both animal welfare and public health. That is precisely why we rolled out a nationwide TNRM programme for dogs last November, in close partnership with our animal welfare community.

SPCA is the lead Animal Welfare Group partnering NParks on this programme, and this is indeed a significant undertaking. NParks is providing funding support to our Animal Welfare Groups to implement this important programme. It is a partnership between the Government and our community. Our Animal Welfare Groups have started work trapping and sterilising stray dogs in various hot spots around Singapore, as part of our Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme. Work has swung into action. 

To complement these efforts, SPCA is in the midst of appointing a central pool of trappers – in order to sterilise, you must first be able to bring the animal to the table. Animal Welfare Groups that have the capacity to do so, please apply to join in this important effort. Other AWGs can tap on it to trap even more stray dogs as part of the programme. With the upgraded clinic, our Animal Welfare Groups can now send more trapped stray dogs to SPCA’s clinic for sterilisation, vaccination, and microchipping. SPCA is now able to handle around 20 per cent more sterilisation surgeries under the programme, and expects to increase this capacity by even more by the end of this year. Our sterilised dogs will need some time to be prepared for, and recover after their surgeries. As such, we will also be appointing boarders to care for these dogs. Animal Welfare Groups can also apply to provide boarding services.

Community support and acceptance are critical to the success of a Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme on a national level here in this city state. Released dogs will remain part of our living environment, and we seek peaceful human-animal co-existence. We seek the understanding of our communities to support this programme. 

For example, the Spottiswoode Park area was one location where we started TNRM activities. Some months ago, then-AVA, together with SPCA and Grassroots community leaders, reached out and shared with residents what they can do if they encountered Singapore Specials, and also gathered their feedback on stray dogs in their area. This outreach and engagement effort was meaningful as residents were better able to understand what we were trying to achieve through TNRM and what TNRM really was. As a result of the outreach that we did, many people expressed support for this effort. 

We will carry out more of such sessions in other areas to get the support, understanding and partnership of the community. NParks is actively working with SPCA, our other Animal Welfare Groups, and various stakeholders to identify how we can ramp up our TNRM efforts, including such outreach efforts.

We appreciate the strong support of our Animal Welfare Groups, like SPCA – the effort and support that you have given to our various initiatives and programmes over the years. SPCA has worked closely with AVA previously, and now you are continuing to build the relationship with AVS and NParks. I hope that SPCA will continue to engage the wider community – as you have done all these decades – in outreach and education, changing people’s minds, winning people’s hearts, to co-exist with community animals in this City in a Garden.

To conclude, let me congratulate SPCA – the staff, volunteers, Board and supporters, on the opening of its upgraded community clinic, which remains Singapore’s first and only not-for-profit animal clinic. I also like to thank the many generous donors and supporters who have given out of your heart, to make a real difference for the welfare of community animals. I look forward to seeing what other exciting plans SPCA has in store for the future to further enhance animal health and welfare here in Singapore. Congratulations again and good evening.