As a dog lover, there is nothing more upsetting then the wilful neglect of man’s best friend. All too often, people decide to buy a dog on a whim without realising the lifelong commitment, love and sacrifice it involves. Dog ownership is a decision that warrants careful consideration as the responsibilities transcend beyond the new owner. Like it or not, the new owner’s entire family and proximate community are inadvertently affected.
HDB and Backyard Pounds
The biggest challenge that organisations such as the SPCA and SOSD face is the abandonment of dogs by irresponsible pet owners. The first line of defence in battling the issue of strays is to educate potential dog owners of the importance of buying dogs at licensed and reputable pet shops. A recent stomp article on 17 September, “Are HDB residents allowed to breed dogs in their flats for sale?”, highlights errant behaviours that must be addressed swiftly and unequivocally. The authorities have to come down hard on ‘backyard’, unlicensed breeders to ensure that the important steps of sterilisation and microchipping are taken.
Small HDB Flats and Big Dogs
Other worrying trends of dog ownership in HDB flats is the size of the dogs in HDB flats. Many HDB dwellers have over the years, pressured HDB to relax the guidelines on keeping big dogs in flats; some choosing to quietly flout these rules all together. With shrinking HDB flats and public spaces, the rearing of large breeds in ever more confined spaces is contributing factor to dog abandonment when the novelty of puppies wears off. Also, I'm not too sure if it is cruel to the dog to keep a bigger sized dog like a labrador in our pigeon-hole HDB flats.
Responsible Dog Owners and Neighbours who Don't Like Dogs
Living in HDB flats is about give and take with the neighbours and the balance can be upset if residents have a noisy or fierce dog, or worse for neighbours intolerant of canines, more than one dog. I cite the case of Mr Tan Cheng Chu in the Singapolitics article “Minister intervenes in bid to let dying man keep his dogs”. I applaud the efforts of Law Minister Shanmugan and the SOSD to check on the well-being of Silver and Rover, and to offer to mediate with Mr Tan’s neighbours, although the law is on the side of those neighbours who complained probably because they had a history with Mr Tan.
While it would pain me to see Mr Tan being forced to part with one of his dogs, I would like to see the original owner of the dog, Mr Tan’s daughter, step forward to take responsibility for the dog she bought and had left at her father's place after she moved out. She is the solution to the mess assuming that HDB is afraid to create a precedent of a stop-at-one dog policy - keep her Rover at her house and bring over and take him home at the start and end of everyday. Just like how parents leave their children at their parents' home during the day for childcare. It is the least she can do as a filial daughter to help her cancer-stricken dying father and appease neighbours who need not put up with supposed noisy dogs at night.
If not, with Mr Tan’s critical condition, I fear that in not too long, both 3-year old Silver and 7-year old Rover will be stepping through the kennel doors of SPCA.