The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Singapore has denied the allegations of abuse aired by a former volunteer, who quit volunteering for the welfare group after it allegedly threatened to euthanise a dog that had not been given proper care.
Writing on their Facebook page, the group responded to a social media post by longtime volunteer Jermaine, who gave six years of service to the animals at the SPCA and was even featured in the Chinese daily.
Jermaine excoriated the group online and asserted:
“I had given so much to spca in forms of monetary and time, hoping to help SPCA in the fight to improve animal welfare. I had guarded spca so fiercely against so-called keyboard warriors from flaming it. After all that I had seen recently I am utterly disgusted and disappointed.”
She has since removed or made her post private on Facebook.
We re-publish SPCA’s executive director Dr Jaipal Singh Gill’s response to the allegations here:
You may have read the post by former SPCA volunteer Jermaine on Facebook on 22 October. My staff and I were saddened to read her comments. Jermaine has done much for the SPCA and the animals over the years, and was considered a valuable member of the team. We thank her for her past and ongoing efforts for animal welfare. It is important however, that I share with you our side of what transpired.
Jaycee is an adult local breed dog taken in by the SPCA on 8 September. She was found tied to a fence in the Hillview area and a member of the public had requested our assistance. Efforts to trace a possible owner were unsuccessful.
Shelters can be stressful for any animal, due to various factors, including having to adapt to an unfamiliar environment and routine, and being exposed to a number of human caretakers.
Understandably, Jaycee showed signs of fear while in our care. Staff tried repeatedly to gain her trust, but their efforts were unsuccessful. When a staff member was bitten on the face by Jaycee, he immediately said that it was not her fault and supported our decision to continue trying. We at SPCA, understand from experience, that a dog never bites without cause and we continually assess an animal’s triggers and stressors that contribute to bite behaviour, in order to direct the rehabilitation process.
While we wish we had had more time to spend with Jaycee, persisting in the rehabilitation effort, with around 170 animals coming into the SPCA shelter every month, (including the sick and injured), we are limited in the time and space we can afford each animal (presently, there are about 20 dogs undergoing behavioural rehabilitation with us). We were thus very relieved and grateful when Jermaine, who had been working with Jaycee and making very good progress with her, said she could take her in, as Jaycee responded well to her, and this would free up shelter space for other dogs in need.
There are occasions when other animal welfare groups and animal rescuers take animals from the SPCA, and there are also times when we take animals from them, to place for adoption, working collaboratively and focusing on each other’s strengths to save lives.
For many years, the SPCA has been seen as a dumping ground for unwanted or abandoned animals, taking in animals that other shelters are unable to accommodate. We saw the worst of the pet overpopulation when we were taking in hundreds of unwanted animals every month, on top of dealing with a few hundred cruelty and rescue cases a month. But besides just taking in animals, we actively worked to solve the problem at its roots. The efforts taken over the years (for example through sterilisation programmes, providing complementary veterinary care, education programmes, adoption campaigns and advocacy to change policies and laws) have reduced euthanasia significantly. In the last year, the percentage of animals we euthanased was 17% (a proportion of the animals were very badly injured or sick, and whose quality of life would be poor despite medical intervention), down from 27% in 2014 and 55% in 2012. These figures are reported yearly in our annual report published on our website.
Nobody at the SPCA wants to see healthy and treatable animals euthanased, and even one animal put down is one animal too many. We are doing our best to get to zero euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals through rehabilitation efforts, rehoming and trap-neuter-release-manage programmes among others. The SPCA is also currently embarking on a project to significantly increase the capability and capacity of our community animal clinic, the only one of its kind in Singapore which is not-for-profit and solely for needy animals. The clinic upgrade will allow us to save even more lives and will also service the other animal welfare groups, independent rescuers and pets from low income households.
Miley, the cocker spaniel, was found to have kidney stones and while one vet quoted us $1,700+ for the surgery, we managed to negotiate a more charitable rate of $500, after which we proceeded with the surgery two weeks ago. She is currently recuperating in our care and will be put up for adoption once she fully recovers.
The silky terrier was found abandoned and rescued by SPCA. She had various ailments in her advanced age and eyes that were constantly weeping. The dog was examined by our consultant veterinarian and she was taken to the SPCA clinic to have her eyes cleaned when required. Jermaine had helped with her grooming as well. Sadly, the dog passed on peacefully just over two weeks after she was rescued.
We take the welfare of our animals very seriously and are always working to improve our animal care, based on best practice standards. The staff at SPCA work tirelessly behind the scenes, often in challenging circumstances performing work that few want to do, maintaining a clean and comfortable environment for the more than 200 animals housed in the shelter at any one time. The shelter care team are genuinely concerned for, and attached to the animals under their charge, and together with the veterinary team, ensure that animals requiring treatment receive timely attention.
Our staff choose a career in animal welfare because they want to make a positive difference. Together with volunteers and the community, we work hard to improve our services and the lives of rescued animals. We do not claim to be perfect but where we fall short, we pick ourselves up and take efforts to improve. There will no doubt be differences in opinion along the way, and where feedback is constructive, we will take it on board, for the animals under our care.
For the staff and volunteers who tirelessly give up your time to help us, I say, thank you.