The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has urged the public to support a core group of dog feeders taking care of stray dogs on the forested hill beside the Bukit Batok MRT station and refrain from feeding the dogs themselves.
Animal welfare groups said two groups of feeders operate in the area, a core group on a routine scheduled programme, and another group of indiscriminate feeders they say are to blame for befouling the area with leftover food.
SPCA executive director Corinne Fong said the six to eight core feeders have worked with the Jurong Town Council since July last year to feed, trap, neuter and re-home the stray dogs. When they began, there were 10 adults and two puppies, but about six have been re-homed, she said.
The approved feeders work in a locked, fenced-in area and clean up after they are done, she said.
The hill, as big as a football field, has come under scrutiny after an operation to wipe out a rat infestation began last week.
About 200 rats have been killed as of Monday night, and the situation has improved greatly, said the Housing Board, which manages the plot of land. Pest controllers are using infra-red cameras to monitor the remaining rats.
The infestation was blamed on leftover scraps from the indiscriminate feeding of stray dogs.
"We did surveillance and have seen cars drive by, stop by the side of the road and toss food on the side of the hill," said Ms Fong.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has received some 100 complaints on stray dogs and the feeding of them at Bukit Batok Central and its vicinity from January to November.
"While the feeding of stray animals is well intended, feeding becomes an offence when it causes littering of the environment," said an AVA spokesman.
But the furore appears to have forced this group of feeders to stop their activities for now.
One of them, who wanted to be known only as Betty, said she takes turns to feed the dogs with three others. She told The Straits Times they are sometimes chased away before they can clean up. "I told my friend, I give up already. We are doing something good here but I feel like a criminal running around," she said.