For World Animal Day, The Business Times has featured animal lovers in Singapore! Thank you for the feature!
President Siew Tuck Wah
You are both president of SOSD and founder of Radium Medical Aesthetics. How do you juggle the various portfolios?
Dr Siew: SOSD now has a general manager, a robust management committee and more structured volunteer departments. It allows me to free up my time to oversee the organisation, and be less involved in operations.
What more can be done to deter animal abuse/abandonment?
Dr Siew: The law, which was reviewed in 2012, is a good start. Second is enforcement, which requires continued efforts from AVA to prosecute cases and make it public.
Third is advocacy education, which is why we do a lot of outreach to the public and schools.
What advice would you give to people who are contemplating to either buy or adopt a dog?
Dr Siew: Saving lives aside, adoption is a better way to get a pet because there is a lot more guidance. Volunteers will screen the family to make sure the members are ready before they get a dog. SOSD is also very transparent with potential adopters about the health or behaviour issues the dog may have.
Retired police dogs can now live in HDB flats. There is also Project ADORE which allows certain larger breed dogs to live in the flats. Can more be done?
Dr Siew: Currently, the mongrels or mixed breeds allowed in HDB have to weigh below 15 kg and not exceed 50cm. It is a great step forward but more needs to be done.
Right now, the criteria only allows about 15 per cent (of such dogs) to be adopted.
Plus, owners who live condo units, which can be smaller than a HDB flat, are allowed to have three dogs of any size. In this case, the law does not make sense.
What misconception do people have of dogs?
Dr Siew: One misconception is that large dogs are aggressive.
However, bigger-sized dogs like Labrador and retrievers are actually friendlier and have better temperaments.
Certain breeds of dogs (such as the Pit Bull and Akita) are not allowed in Singapore. What are your thoughts about the list?
Dr Siew: As an animal activist, I think that having a list causes some prejudice. I feel that some dogs with thick fur, such as the Alaskan Malamute, should not be here.
Singapore’s weather is not suitable for them and unless the owner is willing to invest in a cool room to keep them in, it is a torture for the dogs. If there is to be a list, it should be more for the health of the dogs than anything else.
How can businesses help SOSD?
Dr Siew: Donating to animal cause is a very new concept in Singapore. but we do rely a lot on the generosity of the public to sustain the shelter.
It would be good if businesses could donate and help us do some projects, for example we always need writers, designers, event planners etc. Now that we moved to Tengah, our expenses have gone up by S$15-18k a month since the move.