SPCA has big plans for bigger new home

Veterinary surgeon Pearlyn Ting examining a stray kitten at the clinic in SPCA's new premises in Sungei Tengah Road.
Veterinary surgeon Pearlyn Ting examining a stray kitten at the clinic in SPCA's new premises in Sungei Tengah Road.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

In one room, a vet parts the brown and white fur on a guinea pig as she starts a physical examination.

In another, a black cross-breed dog leaps in excitement at the sight of a prospective adopter.

This is 50, Sungei Tengah Road, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (SPCA) sprawling new Kranji home, which is three times bigger than its old premises in Mount Vernon and can house up to 350 animals - twice as many as before.

 

The SPCA embarked on an eight-day relocation from Mount Vernon, where it spent 32 years, to the new $7 million facility late last month. The extra space has allowed it to put new plans into motion, such as a new surgery room and an exercise and agility course for dogs.

Most of the enclosures and rooms in the 7,700 sq m compound were filled up with the charity's 130 rescued animals and 30 full-time staff when The Straits Times visited last Friday. There are still empty spaces, though, and the SPCA hopes that one day they could house facilities such as blood test and X-ray machines.

Two rooms containing stacks of empty cages will serve as separate recovery rooms for cats and dogs.

SPCA's new executive director Jaipal Singh Gill also intends to use an open-air pavilion in the middle of the compound to hold educational talks and animal training sessions.

"We could even rent it out for birthday parties and weddings," he said. One event is already confirmed for April.

There are also now more grass patches for the animals to stretch their legs, with an exercise and agility course for dogs on the cards.

They will also allow potential adopters to get to know prospective pets better.

To ensure that the animals become familiar with everyday sights and sounds such as furniture and traffic noises, they will be taken for daily walks around places like the SPCA staff offices and carpark, both of which face a main road.

Dr Gill said that, with space constraints out of the way, the remaining obstacle is money.

The SPCA still needs to raise about $900,000 for the new building, and more will be needed to put other plans in place.

It will be organising fund-raising events such as roadshows to get more people to support its cause, as well as selling merchandise.

The new site is accessible only by car or bus from Choa Chu Kang MRT station, making it less convenient to get to than the old site. But Dr Gill said he is not worried, despite new volunteer sign-ups falling from 70 to 50 for last month.

"We don't know yet if that will be the trend, but if you are really passionate about animals, a longer or more inconvenient commute will not make a difference," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'SPCA has big plans for bigger new home'. Print Edition | Subscribe