Help Feed Dogs on Jurong Island For A Month

Help Feed Dogs on Jurong Island May 2019
Appealing for Food for Jurong Island dogs!

“On 14 May 2019, I turn 40 years of age. And I am hoping that you can help me out, not to celebrate my birthday or buy presents, but to fill the bellies of 400 homeless dogs – on an island tucked away, unseen by most Singaporeans.

The Jurong Island Trap, Neuter and Release project was a landmark project in so many ways when it was started in end 2014. For the first time, management of stray dogs on the heavy-industrial island was entrusted to animal welfare groups – ACRES would coordinate, while operational work would be done by SOSD, Noah’s Ark Cares (NAC), and Action For Singapore Dogs (ASD).

It was a huge undertaking- one which the animal welfare groups – all of us non-government and volunteer run, weren’t even sure we could take on. But it was an opportunity too precious to let up – it was a chance to let the 400 dogs on the island live. Until then, the only way to deal with the helpless, hungry dogs on the island was through relentless, merciless culling. Jurong Island is no place for stray animals – there is no ready source of food and little shelter. There are areas where the dogs pose a safety risk, and need to be removed promptly once they appear.

The project would involve sterilising the stray dogs, so that the population would remain stable and eventually decline. At the same time, we would modify the dogs’ behaviours through feeding, and lure them away from the roads and danger areas. It would be the largest scale stray dog sterilisation project in the history of Singapore. The surgeries would be performed on the island, on a specially set up mobile vet clinic. The project finally started amongst numerous difficulties. We cheered when the first dog was sterilised and released successfully, and counted down to the day when we would sterilise the critical number required for successful population control.

But as all events in life go, things rarely go according to plan. It turned out, sterilising the dogs was not enough, as it would take 5-10 years before they would die out. The stray dogs were still posing an immediate traffic risk, and had to be removed from heavy industry areas. The Jurong Island Trap, Neuter and Release Program had to be modified — Dogs in danger zones had to be rounded up, and placed in a shelter area, which Jurong Town Corporation had constructed in the forested areas. This had great implications for for all of us involved. We needed full time staff to clean the kennels and look after the dogs. At the same time, the dogs who we had successfully lured away from the roads now depended on us for food. We became their stray feeders who provided them with the sustenance they needed. The costs to run the project skyrocketed to $25,000 for SOSD alone. What was aimed to be a 2 year project was kindly extended by JTC, so that the dogs we have placed in the shelter could be rehabilitated, and eventually rehomed.

ASD has since left the first phase of the project – the sterilisation phase, leaving SOSD and NAC to continue with the operations of the current 2nd phase – stray feeding, behaviour modification, rehabilitation and rehoming of the dogs in the shelter on Jurong Island. Most of the dogs have been sterilised, but our work is far from complete. Today, staff from SOSD and NAC spend gruelling days under the elements, rain or shine, 7 days a week. It is an intense responsibility, requiring not only money, but also effort, passion and sweat of everyone involved.

The past few years have been an exhilarating journey for all of us involved in animal welfare. So much has changed. From a country who used to cull dogs indiscriminately and regard stray dogs as dirty pests, we now have a kinder, more compassionate society who understand the they, too have a right to live. It proves that when Singaporeans come together and set our hearts and minds to a cause, miracles can happen.

I typically do not celebrate my birthdays. It is just another day for me. But I thought that this year, my 40th year on this Earth, I wanted to do my part in helping not only the dogs on Jurong Island, but also all the passionate, selfless staff and volunteers of the animal welfare groups involved in this momentous project.

It costs about $1.60 to feed a dog day.
Through this campaign, I hope to raise enough food to feed all the dogs on Jurong island – about 400 of them, for a month. This will require a total of 1800 cans of wet food, and a whooping 3500kg of dry food. The amount required, is $19,000. Please join me, on my 40th birthday, for a good cause – to keep our less fortunate fur friends, from going hungry.”

~ Dr Siew Tuck Wah, SOSD President

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