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

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