Friday, 19 May 2000

Wanted : new guardian angels for abandoned animals

By Jamie Ee, The Business Times

   Enough of emotional finger-pointing. Rational solutions are what's needed at
Noah's Ark Lodge

   I VISITED Noah's Ark Lodge for the first time last weekend.

   It's funny how animals - and I don't mean the ones living in the shelter -
seem to be naturally drawn to this pocket of rural outback land set deep in
the midst of a relatively untouched stretch of Seletar. Packs of strays who've
commandeered abandoned structures as home run around fearlessly, giving the
impression that they're either Noah's Ark residents released on a day pass, or
trained PR consultants hired to create an image of happy doggie hinterland to
impress prospective "adoptive" parents.

   In surprisingly good physical condition for strays (looks like they've been
getting takeaway meals from their kind neighbour), the dogs scratch and play
contentedly on the dusty roads, to the point that even if you want to stop and
offer them PR status in your back yard, they might very well decline.

   But theirs is a different dilemma from their counterparts in Noah's Ark
itself - while their biggest enemy would be the dogcatchers, the animals in
the shelter are not even aware that their future is now in the hands of the
AVA and the new tenant that has taken over the lease of the premises.

   Much has been said about the moral dilemma of chucking out a man - Raymund
Wee - who spent seven years of his life caring for stray and abandoned
animals, and putting in his place a commercial breeder whose altruism has not
been tested. There's been a lot of good guy/bad guy sentiment brewing, and
much of it has boiled down to this: Raymund Wee - animal hero; new tenant
Thierry Lim and AVA - heartless souls bound by cold commercialism and an
indifferent bureaucracy. True or unfair, that is the question.

   I don't know Mr Wee or Mr Lim personally. But what I saw at Noah's Ark that
day was a group of volunteers and dog lovers prepared to fight for the
animals' well-being, and at the same time, a very typical Singapore attitude
that when something goes wrong, blame the heartless government department

   I say, stop with the emotional finger-pointing and start looking for a proper
solution. As an animal shelter, I can't think of a better place than Noah's
Ark, where the animals get their basic needs of food and shelter. But really,
should it stop there?

   Out of the hundreds of dogs I saw, a handful caught my attention. One was a
shar pei named Wrinkle. At least, that's what the volunteers named him. But
you could call him by name and he wouldn't respond. I wouldn't either, not to
such a dumb name anyway. But Wrinkle's an aloof dog who had no attachment to
anybody there and spent his time walking around aimlessly as if he were just
biding his time, waiting for something or someone. Maybe the moron who
abandoned him in the first place. Then there was PR dog - a friendly fellow
who sucked up to all and sundry, obviously dying to be adopted but, no such
luck, apparently. And Mangy, obviously named for his appearance, looking lost
and confused amidst the stream of visitors. And so on.

   Dogs need someone to love. An animal shelter is not the ideal solution for
the abandoned dog or stray, it's ideal only for people who want to dump their
responsibility on somebody else. If anything, the current urgency to get the
animals adopted quickly could actually be a good thing, because then they'll
have a proper owner and home instead of living in this animal orphanage where
the caregivers are kind but individual love and nurturing are impossible.

   Don't blame the government for upsetting what has been a real cosy situation.
Yes, it can help make a bad situation better and it's already happening with
the release of land in Loyang and the micro-chipping of the Noah's Ark
animals. If the right-minded people got together, some rational solutions can
be found. Raymund Wee doesn't have to be the only angel. The next one could
well be Thierry Lim. But if not, then the challenge amongst the most vocal
Noah's Ark supporters should be: come on, who among you has the courage to
take up the cause?

   CAST YOUR VOTE: Go to the BT Online website ( and
take part in the interactive poll based on this column.

   RESULTS OF LAST WEEK'S POLL: What's your definition of the ideal mum? One who
cooks, cleans, looks after the kids and still looks sexy in bed - 16.35 per
cent. A career woman who will delay a major deal to take her kids to the
doctor - 14.15 per cent. One who can balance work, kids, maid and
mother-in-law - 53.15 per cent. One who stays home and gets to watch her kids
grow up - 16.35 per cent.

Source: The Business Times
Date: 19 May 2000

Sunday, 14 May 2000

Ark's animals to get microchips

By Pauline Leong, The Straits Times
PET FARM : Tending to over 200 dogs and about 200 cats is no easy business.
Several times a day, a worker at the compound has to scout the whole place for
dogs' droppings and scoop the poo up. Here, Mr Wee himself does the dirty job
- accompanied by his faithful friends, of course.

PET FARM : Tending to over 200 dogs and about 200 cats is no easy business.
Several times a day, a worker at the compound has to scout the whole place for
dogs' droppings and scoop the poo up. Here, Mr Wee himself does the dirty job
- accompanied by his faithful friends, of course.

BATH PUP : All the animals at Noah's Ark are bathed on Saturdays so that they
would be clean, fresh-smelling and ready to meet the animal-lovers the next
day. Sundays are open house at the Ark and some lucky animals are adopted

DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE : On Mondays, Dr Heng Yee Ling, a vet, and Ms Roseline Ng,
a vet nurse, will drop by the shelter to sterilise the cats and dogs. Mr Wee's
house rule is that dogs and cats that are brought to his shelter must be
sterilised as he believes this will help to reduce the number of strays.


   About 500 animals will get the chip implants, so the AVA can keep track of
them and ensure their well-being
   ABOUT 500 dogs and cats at the Noah's Ark Lodge animal shelter will have
microchips attached to them, so that they can be identified and accounted for
when a new tenant takes over the shelter next month.

   To allay the fear of volunteers at the shelter - who were worried about the
animals being put down - the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's chief
executive officer Ngiam Tong Tau said yesterday that the microchips, inserted
below the skin around the animal's neck, will help AVA keep track of the
   And the incoming tenant, Mr Thierry Lim, said that he would open the place to
the public, seven days a week, and allow owners who have placed their animals
at the shelter to continue to pay the same fees as they do now.

   About 50 volunteers and animal lovers met AVA officials and Mr Lim at the
AVA's Sembawang Field Experimental Station to discuss the welfare of the
animals at Noah's Ark.

   The animal shelter at Seletar West was started by Mr Raymund Wee seven years
ago, to take in stray and abandoned animals.

   Currently, Noah's Ark is open to the public only on weekends.

   Mr Lim outbid Mr Wee, when the 2-ha site was put up for tender by AVA in
March. But volunteers at the Ark were concerned about the welfare of the
animals with the change of management.

   Yesterday, Dr Ngiam reiterated AVA's stand that all the animals at Noah's Ark
would be taken care of, and that the welfare of the animals would not be

   "Mr Lim has also given us his assurance that he has no intention of putting
down any of the animals at Noah's Ark. He will continue to provide shelter and
care for the animals there."

   Ms Eve Toh, a member of the Cat Welfare Society, said that some cat owners
were concerned that the structures built to house the cats would be

   Dr Ngiam reassured them that if the structures were essential to house the
animals, they would not be razed.

   Meanwhile, Dr Jean-Paul Ly, veterinary consultant to the Ark, has pledged to
continue providing veterinary services for the animals.

   Volunteers and animal lovers also had suggestions on caring for the animals.

   Bank officer Kathy Ong, 31, a volunteer, suggested a committee should be
formed to play a consultative role, to advise on standards for the care of the

   Animal-lover Cathy Strong proposed: "Maybe well-wishers could 'foster' an
animal, and pay $10 to $20 each month for its upkeep," she said.

   Ms Celin Leung, 32, suggested that the AVA work with schools to increase the
pool of volunteers.

   "Perhaps university and secondary-school students could do work at the Ark as
part of their volunteer projects."

   Dr Ngiam said the AVA would take all suggestions into consideration.

   He also revealed that there would be two plots of land in Loyang that would
be open for tender this year.

   Dr Ngiam urged animal owners, volunteers and members of the public to call
the AVA hotline on 1800-226-2250 if they have further queries on the matter.

Source: The Straits Times
Date: 14 May 2000

Tuesday, 9 May 2000

Volunteers to meet officials over Noah's Ark

Concerned about the fate of the shelter's animals after the change of
management, they will discuss this with the veterinary authority

   VOLUNTEERS from Noah's Ark Lodge will discuss the proper care of its animals
with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the new
tenant, Mr Thierry Lim, on Saturday.

   The shelter at Seletar West Farmway 5 was started by Mr Raymund Wee seven
years ago to take in stray and unwanted animals.

   Those who are unable to take care of their pets have also placed the animals
at the lodge.

   Both Mr Wee and Mr Lim took part in the tender for Noah's Ark Lodge. Mr Lim
was awarded the tender as he bid higher.

   Volunteers at the lodge and pet owners expressed concern about the fate of
the animals, following the change of management.

   In an e-mail to The Straits Times, Ms Laura Chan said she was worried about
her pet dog at the shelter.

   She said she placed her dog there about two months ago as it had grown too
big for her Housing Board flat.

   "I give Mr Wee just $50 a month for maintenance, which is all I can give."
   If the charges were to increase, she feared for her dog's welfare because she
could not afford to pay more.

   In a statement to The Straits Times, the AVA reiterated its concern for the
animals' welfare and said they would be taken care of.

   The new tenant, Mr Thierry Lim, also said that it is not his intention to put
down any of the unwanted animals.

   He added that he will continue to shelter them and also try to find better
homes for them.

   He said in a statement: "I will take in new strays and abandoned animals
provided that it does not interfere with the welfare of the animals already in
my care."

   The AVA said that it is working closely with Mr Lim to ensure that animals
will not be affected by the change.

   It also appealed to owners, adopters and other animal-lovers to continue
their support for the animals.

   Meanwhile, Mr Wee will be able to stay at the farm a little longer as the AVA
has approved his request for a one-month extension.

   Volunteers at the shelter can call the AVA on 1800-2262250 with their

Source: The Straits Times
Date: 9 May 2000

Ark talks

The New Paper - Quick News

   THE proper care of the animals at Noah's Ark Lodge will be discussed when
Noah's Ark volunteers, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore
(AVA) and the new tenant, Mr Thierry Lim, meet on Saturday.

   The shelter at Seletar West Farmway 5 was started by Mr Raymund Wee seven
years ago.

   Mr Lim was awarded the tender for the lodge recently.

Source: The New Paper
Date: 9 May 2000

Monday, 8 May 2000

'Ark' owner to blame for animals' displacement

The Straits Times - Forum

I REFER to the report, "Plea to spare Noah's Ark animals" (ST, May 1).

   The "creator" of the so-called "Noah's Ark" ought to know that he did not
have a life-long lease on the land.

   When he started the home for the animals, he should have taken that fact into
consideration and had the appropriate contingency plans at the very onset or
at least a few months before the expiry of the lease.

   There are basically two issues: The right of the owner to lease out the land
to the highest bidder; and who is responsible for the future of the animals.

   The first issue has been dealt with and we all know someone else has bidded
higher than Mr Raymund Wee.

   There is nothing else that needs to be said on this.

   As for the second issue, surely, the responsibility falls on Mr Wee.

   Perhaps it can be said that he had done a noble thing for the "lost animals",
but we must also not forget that he knew his lease was not "forever".

   On this issue, we have to be guided by the laws governing ownership of land
and fixed-term leases.

   Knowing his was only a fixed-term lease, Mr Wee ought to have had an
alternative or contingency plan for the animals when the time came for him to
surrender the land.

   No fault can be attributed to the owner nor is there a personal
responsibility on the part of the new lessee to deal with the welfare of those

   If every time an owner of a piece of land leases it to someone, and that
someone decides to do a "noble or charitable project" on the land without
considering the fact that his or her lease is for a fixed term, any reasonable
person will acknowledge that the problem which surfaces on expiry of the lease
is created by that lessee.

   Only he or she is to blame for the sad state of affairs.

   Having said all that, I do believe the owner of the land and the new lessee
will be more than prepared to sit down with Mr Wee to try and resolve the

   However, Mr Wee must admit that any help or suggestion from the owner and/or
the new lessee will be given purely out of goodwill.

   We must all recognise that the new lessee has the right to do his own lawful
business on the land for the period of lease given to him.

   This was the same right extended to Mr Wee and, surely, he understands that
better than anyone else.

   I take this opportunity to wish the parties a quick resolution on the plight
of the animals.

   Perhaps Mr Wee may wish to transfer the animals to his "shelters" in Malaysia
and Thailand.


Monday, 1 May 2000

Plea to spare Noah's Ark animals

By Manasi Rajagopalan, The Straits Times
Noah's Ark In Deep Waters - Mr Raymund Wee, who looks after 500 animals in the
Noah's Ark shelter, appeals to AVA not to put them down.

Worried about the sick and the old among those at the shelter, its creator
wants to meet the land's new owner and discuss the creatures' fate

   THE creator of the Noah's Ark Lodge, which shelters about 500 domestic
animals, fears for the lives of his many-legged companions after his

   Mr Raymund Wee yesterday asked the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA)
and the shelter's new owner, Mr Thierry Lim, not to put down any of the
animals and to meet him for a discussion on its future.

   "Animals are not like commodities that can be given away.

   "I am like a father to these animals and am concerned about the sick, the
old, and the unwanted among them," he said at a press conference.

   "I have not met Mr Lim and have received no assurances from either the AVA or
him about the fate of these animals," he said.

   Mr Lim outbid Mr Wee by $12,000 on Wednesday for the tender on the land where
the Noah's Ark Lodge sits.

   Started as a pet-grooming business seven years ago, the animal refuge in
Seletar now houses about 250 dogs, 250 cats and other domestic animals such as
goats, ducks, geese, rabbits, and even a horse.

   The project had gained many supporters after Mr Wee's lease expired on Feb

   Having apparently nowhere to go, the animals seemed destined for death.

   Suddenly, instead of finding stray animals at his doorstep, Mr Wee, 51, found
animal lovers who wanted to donate food, money and time.

   One of them, Mrs Kathleen Lim, has been a volunteer with the shelter for four

   Said the sales executive: "I don't believe that anyone else besides Mr Wee
will risk running up a loss to keep a few strays alive."

   Others, such as Noah's Ark Lodge regular Pauline Lau, 33, say they will miss
the dogs, cats and farm animals.

   Said Ms Lau: "Where else in Singapore can you find ducks and geese strolling
around, or a horse grazing peacefully?"

   Mr Wee plans to continue his work in animal shelters in Malaysia and

   He says that he is disappointed by the lack of assistance from the

   "I am not asking for a golf course from the AVA, just a little proof that my
companions will be taken care of.

   "This is my soapbox, and I must take a stand for the animals," he said.

Source: The Straits Times
Date: 1 May 2000