AVA acknowledges it hires contractors to remove cats

A cat at the void deck of an HDB block. AVA says it engages contractors to help residents remove animals that enter homes when it receives distress calls from residents who have a genuine fear of animals.
A cat at the void deck of an HDB block. AVA says it engages contractors to help residents remove animals that enter homes when it receives distress calls from residents who have a genuine fear of animals.ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it does hire contractors to remove animals that are reported to have entered residents' homes.

The statement follows a recent encounter between a Cat Welfare Society (CWS) mediator and a cat trapper who said he was hired by AVA to catch a cat that had entered a resident's home.

"From time to time, AVA receives distress calls from residents when animals enter homes," an AVA spokesman told The Straits Times on Sunday. "Some residents have a genuine fear of animals and are unable to remove an animal on their own. In such circumstances, AVA does engage contractors to help residents remove the animal."

On May 21, CWS mediator Tan Cheng Tiong had written in a widely shared Facebook post about his encounter with the cat trapper who said he had to catch a cat or he would not be paid by AVA. Mr Tan, a 47-year-old stockbroker who has been a CWS mediator since 2008, said the incident occurred on May 21 in Commonwealth Drive.

CWS said its mediators usually step in before animal control is called in. Mr Tan, who introduced himself to the cat trapper, followed the man into the unit, but no cat was found. After about 20 minutes, the trapper left. Mr Tan said he later asked the resident who complained about the cat to liaise with him directly, and the resident agreed.

He said he was worried that the cat trapper would catch just any cat to fulfil his quota, a move which would raise concerns about the safety of cats. But AVA said it closes the loop by checking with the person who called as to whether the contractor removed the correct animal. It said all cats trapped by its contractors are taken to the AVA pound where they are cared for by officers on duty, including on weekends and public holidays.

If the cats are pets, it will try to reunite them with their owners through advertisements. AVA said it also works with partners to rehome cats that are suitable for rehoming.

Responding to the incident, it said a man had called about a cat that had entered his father's home.

"He said his father was very scared of the cat. AVA thus activated a contractor to assist in the removal of the cat," it said. "No cat was trapped eventually, as the contractor was unable to find the cat."

CWS executive director Laura Ann Meranda told ST that as CWS works closely with AVA in all cat matters, it was concerned that this case was dealt with differently, and that an animal contractor was hired when CWS mediators were not immediately on call.

CWS had alleged in a Facebook post on Friday that the AVA duty officer said they could not get hold of a CWS mediator in time and so deployed an animal contractor.

Ms Meranda said CWS has asked AVA to review the incident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'AVA acknowledges it hires contractors to remove cats'. Print Edition | Subscribe