Monday July 30, 2012
Census needed to reduce population of strays, says SSPCA
By ZORA CHAN
KUCHING: A census on stray cats and dogs is needed to formulate a workable plan to reduce their population in the city.
Sarawak Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (SSPCA) chairman Rebecca D’Cruz said it was important to gauge the stray population, otherwise it would be hard to plan a strategy and budget to eliminate them.
She said the proposed census would be modelled after the Asian Waterfowl Census which proved to be a successful approach to count waterbirds annually.
The society realised the population of strays was on the rise each year in the city but it did not have the actual number until a census was done, she said.
“The proposed census in the city is currently just a proposal on paper. We have discussed the concept with the councils and they are generally in agreement.
“If all goes well, we hope to implement this next year,” she told The Star here recently.
If given the go ahead, the proposed census for strays would involve the public as volunteers to help do the count on a specific day, time and venue where there was known to be concentration of strays, said D’Cruz.
She said public participation was important in the census to raise their awareness on the need to deal with strays and be responsible owners by neutering or spaying their pets.
“If we can mobilise enough volunteers including students to assist in the census, we can break into groups to count at different locations such as commercial centres in Kenyalang Park, BDC or the markets where strays have accessibility to food at a specific time,” she said.
The counting should be done in the morning before 10am when strays were active, she added.
The census would then help SSPCA plan and prioritise actions, including options to introduce a strategic and targeted programme called Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR).
She hoped the public and councils would support SSPCA in its efforts to eliminate strays before the problem became too big to handle in years to come as experienced in the Klang Valley which cost millions of ringgit.
D’Cruz said SSPCA had implemented an approach to reduce and eventually eliminate the stray animal problem in the city.
She said it subsidised neutering campaigns with Kuching City North Commission (DBKU) and Kuching City South Council (MBKS) to reduce the number of unwanted litters abandoned by pet owners, and to raise awareness on the responsibility of pet owners.
SSPCA was also advocating the setting up of one or more Klinik Kembiri in Kuching, modelled after the ones in the Klang Valley as a joint effort between SPCA Selangor and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.
“The Klinik Kembiri will be a dedicated low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter clinic. It will provide subsidised spay/neuter services for companion animals belonging to people from the lower-income category, animal rescuers, and people caring for strays in their communities.”
“We propose that the existing Veterinary Clinic on Sekama Road be used as the first Klinik Kembiri in Kuching,” she said.
“All of these efforts are working towards realising our vision of a stray-free Kuching, one that is consistent with the city’s Healthy City status,” she said.
If left unattended, strays could pose a health threat to humans, she said.
Every year, D’Cruz said SSPCA received about 3,000 unwanted animals from local councils, out of which about 28% were adopted.
The society had to put a cap on the number of stray dogs handed over by councils with 30 for MBKS, DBKU (20) and Padawan Municipal Council (20) to avoid over population at the animal shelter.
“The cap applies to dogs because they take up the most amount of space. No limit for puppies, cats and kittens,” she said.
However, the rate of capture was not consistent with the rate at which these stray animals reproduced, she pointed out.
She said a single female cat or dog could be the source of 4,000 more new lives in seven years.
“Survivors from each litter go on to produce litters of their own. This approach therefore does not offer a long-term solution to the stray problem,” she said.
Therefore, long-term and comprehensive approaches like the census, TNR programme and Klinik Kembiri were essential to help reduce strays, she stressed.