Mission: stray rescue
A furry face, a pink nose, a hesitant paw and then a melted heart. So you want to provide a home for that adorable stray, but what are the issues you must consider? Read on.
Little dog lost
Always consider that your “stray” might be someone’s lost pet. Pamela Sng of Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), an independent group of volunteers who work to improve the lot of stray and homeless dogs in Singapore, says that you should always check if the dog has an ID collar with the owner’s contact details, or a license tag, through which the Agri-Food and Veterianary Authority (AVA) can trace the registered owner. “The person who finds the dog should contact the AVA and the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), put up notices around the neighbourhood, post on ASD’s website and also place an ad in the newspapers, which is free of charge, “she adds.” “After a week, then you can assume that the dog is a stray.”
When does kitty need help?
The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) strongly suggests that you do not pick up a stray cat unless you are sure that it has been abandoned, and that you are prepared to keep it for life. Never pick up a cat assuming that someone else – be it an animal welfare group, friend, or relative will be able to take it off your hands. The CWS gets about 10 requests from the public every week to re-home 30 cats. Most of the time, they are unable to accede to these requests as their fosters already have their hands full.
Some situations where the CWS says you should take a cat off the street would be when it is in danger of being injured, abused or killed, when it is hurt, paralysed or unable to live on the streets in the condition it is in, and when it has been abandoned by its human owner.
It is not recommended to take the cat home with you if it is fine where it is. CWS explains that “this may seem obvious, but many people pick up a cat which is happy where it is and take it home, only to find they cannot re-home it. If the cat is contented and safe where it is, then feed it and have it sterilized, but leave it where it is. Often, well-meaning people take seemingly abandoned kittens away, when actually the mother has gone off to hunt for food. Unless the kittens have been alone for hours, do not remove them. If you are standing near the kittens, the mother cat might be afraid to return, and if you touch the kittens, your smell will rub off on them and the mother cat may not recognize them later.”
Bunny in peril
According to the House Rabbit Society of Singapore (HRSS), when you see a rabbit roaming about in the wild in Singapore, it is highly likely that it has been abandoned, as there are no naturally wild rabbits in Singapore. If you leave the rabbit where it is, will most probably die a slow painful death by starvation, or risk being attacked by cats, dogs, crows, snakes, or humans. Rabbits do not survive well outdoors at all. In addition to being highly susceptible to infectious diseases, the rain, sun, lack of food and water will also take a serious toll on the rabbit. Even if you can offer it nothing more than a ride to the SPCA, you would have done it a kind deed.
Catching a stray
Pamela Sng of the ASD says that you should always assess the risk of the situation, for example, if the dog is at the edge of a busy street, running out onto the street or in a heavy human traffic area. “Assess the temperament of the dog – is it friendly or afraid of people? If it is a friendly dog and in a high risk situation, call us, but please note that whether we can take it in depends on out resource availability at the point in time. The rescuer may have to provide accommodation or assist in sourcing for it if the ASD is unable to take in the dog at that point in time. The rescuer may have to provide accommodation or assist in sourcing for it of the ASD is unable to take in the dog at that point in time.”
Catching a rabbit which does not want to be caught is difficult enough in the confines of your own living room, says the HRSS. Outdoors, it can be almost impossible. Persistence will pay off. Make friends with the rabbit. Keep going back, as many times a day as you can, trying to get a little closer each time. This is mat be a time consuming task; so try to enlist a friend or two to share it. When you approach it, do so crouching low and from the side. If it can see you only from one eye, its distance vision will be less acute. Take treats with you like banana or apple pieces. Place them on the ground and sit quietly about 10 feet away from them. Try putting the treats into a front-opening animal carrier. Attach a piece of wire to the door, so that you can push it shut from a few feet away.
If it’s a dog
Lure it with food while trying to gain its trust. Chances are if you’ve been feeding them for sometime, then they’re more willing to let you come close. And if you do manage to get close, carry the dog by placing both hands on its rear. Be very careful to avoid the injured area, if any.
If it’s a cat
Throw a blanket over the cat and wrap it tightly around its body. The idea of this is to immobilise the cat in case it starts to scratch and thrash wildly because of fear and pain. It is best to hold on to the hind legs of the cat to prevent it from kicking and or scratching you.
What do I do now?
The SPCA advises that members of the public should not self-treat strays that they find, but to always seek veterinary advice first. They should also seek veterinary advice without delay for an animal that has no appetite, is inactive or lethargic, or has open wounds.
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