More investigative resources needed to stop abuse: Cat Welfare Society
by Gillian Lim
THE number of emails related to cat deaths received by the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) has shot up five times in just one year, suggesting the current spate of cat abuse-related cases may only be the tip of the problem and that more investigative resources are needed to deter abusers.
On average, the society has received about 225 emails related to cat abuse or cat deaths a month this year, said CWS chief executive officer Joanne Ng. Last year, this figure was 45.
The numbers come in time as a series of cat deaths were reported in the media since September this year. The latest of these – a spate of seven cat deaths in Yishun, which happened within a span of 12 days – is just a subset of the rising number of cat abuse cases in Singapore, said Ms Ng.
This rise has also prompted Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng to ask the public for footage from their in-car cameras since some of the cats were found near open-air carparks. “The footage is crucial and provides concrete evidence,” he said to TNP yesterday, hoping that evidence can be found if the dates and locations of the cat deaths are released to the public.
CWS receives 50 to 100 cat-related emails a day; 10 per cent of these emails are related to alleged cat abuse and cat deaths, while the rest of the emails were complaints about irresponsible owners, errant feeders and stray cats.
Ms Ng also said that these numbers weren’t completely accurate in reflecting the total number of cat abuse cases in Singapore, as many cases of cat abuse are not reported or investigated. “Sometimes the person who found the abused cat doesn’t want to make a police report or call AVA,” she said. “Plus a lot of the time, most of these cat owners just want to let it go. They don’t want their cat to be cut up for post-mortem tests, and they just want to give their beloved a proper burial.”
This year’s spike of cat-related deaths isn’t just contained within the Yishun area. Two kittens were found mutilated outside a Tampines dormitory last month – this was on top of six additional cats that have died from abuse in the last three months in the same area. Nine cats have been found dead in Pasir Ris Park since June last year, suspected of being poisoned by fish crumbs placed around the park.
Last week, two cats were found abandoned in a zipped bag in Ang Mo Kio. “If they weren’t found in time, we would be looking at two dead cats instead,” said Ms Ng.
Although the fines for animal abuse and pet negligence have been increased ever since the G amended the Animals and Birds Act last year, Ms Ng said that the investigative process needs to be strengthened, and that these cases of animal abuse happen because nobody is being prosecuted.
She said: “If I’m someone that’s sick in my mind and I see nobody getting caught, that would be encouraging to me. It would be the perfect environment for people to abuse animals like this.”
Currently, offenders of animal cruelty will face a fine of up to $30,000 and/or a three-year jail term. Those found guilty of pet negligence will face a penalty of up to $20,000 and/or a two-year jail term.
CWS hopes that forensic investigative resources can be made available to animal abuse cases as the person who committed the abuse has also committed a severe crime. “A breakthrough in the investigation will only happen if we can provide the necessary evidence required to prosecute – which brings us back to resources to do so,” said Ms Ng.
She added: “Without this, our hands are tied. We need the authorities to step up the investigation process and ensure enforcement of laws.”
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