Monday, 10 January 2000

Noah's Ark for abused animals

MONKEYING AROUND : A cat greets its agile friend. Any company is welcome.

WHAT'S THAT? : A dog at the sanctuary takes an interest in an albino python.

A compound in Seletar, which started out as a place for dogs to roam free, is
now home to abandoned animals which are nursed back to health

   THEY push, they shove, they butt your hands with their heads and they jump -
muddy paws first - onto your stomach.

   From "Kenzo" the Great Dane to "King" the Rottweiler and "Midnight" the
mongrel - each leaves behind a sad tale of abuse and abandonment.

   But all this is forgotten as the free-ranging dogs in the compound battle
desperately to get the human touch they so crave.

   Cats are no different.

   Mostly caged, they call out and climb the grilles like monkeys when they see
people close by.

   Visitors are a welcome sight.

   The compound, at 81, Seletar West Farmway 5, is open to the public every
Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

   What greets the eyes is a picturesque landscape complete with ornate
shelters, gravel pathways, lawns, ponds and even statues, including one of
Saint Francis - who is the patron saint of animals.

   Mr Raymund Wee, 51, who runs the place, said: "Not everyone can have a pet at

   "I want people to have somewhere to go where they can interact with animals
and nature and learn to appreciate them."

   Whether mouse or camel, no species is rejected and as many strays as possible
are saved and re-housed, he said.

   The animals which have been taken in are nursed back to health, sterilised,
tagged and given food, shelter and love.

   But he hastened to add: "I don't want people to treat this place as a dumping

   "Obviously I can't keep every animal, although I would like to.

   "Sometimes I have to make the decision to put an animal down."

   Expenses run to about $250,000 a year.

   The bills cover water, electricity, rent and food, as well as paying two
full-time workers.

   He said he pays $52,000 a year to sublet the land.

   Funds come from a dog salon, boarding facilities for animals, courses on
grooming and pet care and the sale of pet products.

   Well-wishers also donate food and other supplies.

   Mr Wee, whose typical day starts at 5 am, cleans cages and checks on animals.

   He does not get paid, he said.

   All the money made is funnelled back into the sanctuary, he added.

   A dog-lover, he said he rented the place originally from Mr Harry Quek seven
years ago, to give his 12 dogs space to run around.

   But the number of animals ballooned quickly as people heard about it.

   Soon they began to use it as a home to leave unwanted and abandoned animals.

   Initially, he was not eager to run the outfit, he said.

   However, he was inspired by the words of a friend, Dr Nellie Fong, who was
then the head of urban animal management at the Primary Production
Department's Centre for Animal Welfare and Control.

   He said: "She told me that it was necessary to run a place like this because
people here needed to change their mentality when it came to animals.

   "I realised that if I could educate people, then they would no longer be so
ready to take the easy way out and kill an unwanted pet, for example."

Source: The Straits Times
Date: 10 January 2000 

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