Work with shelters to get The Animal Lodge fit for purpose

The animal welfare groups (AWGs) and rescuers housed with Mutts & Mittens boarding kennel are glad that the challenges faced by animal shelters have been highlighted (New home, higher costs for animal shelters; June 30).

It has been an extremely stressful period for those impacted by the move to The Animal Lodge in Sungei Tengah.

Despite ample feedback and consultation with the AWGs and shelters, as well as renovations the AWGs have done and paid for out of pocket, the Sungei Tengah facility remains unfit for purpose.

For example, the shelter where Mutts & Mittens boards our animals encountered blocked pipes within weeks of moving in.

Additionally, the walls are not dog proof, and some dogs have been chewing the walls out of boredom or stress and ingesting the foam insulation.

The meshing on the windows is also not weather-proof and rain splashes into the kennels.

There is a raft of other issues that is costing significant money to fix.

We believe that the Government's decision to build The Animal Lodge came from a place of good intentions. Staying true to that intention, is it not a reasonable expectation that these abandoned and stray animals have a safe and comfortable place to live?

We do not know the constraints the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority faces, but suspect it has had to operate on very tight budgets due to a need to recover costs.

Here lies the conundrum - is the low build quality the result of the AWGs and shelters' inability to pay high rentals?

If so, then we really need to question the underlying costing principles. Is a cost recovery objective even tenable, given that some of the shelters and AWGs previously operated on rent-free premises?

We strongly urge the AVA to reconsider and to make the necessary rectifications so that all the buildings will be fit for purpose, and provide a sustainable solution for the AWGs and the shelters.

Reasonable animal welfare should be the key guiding principle. Have we provided a healthy and safe environment for the animals? Not in its present state.

We hope the AVA will listen to the feedback from the AWGs and shelters, as they have the operational experience to know what is required.

Marc Ha Tzen Wye

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2018, with the headline 'Work with shelters to get The Animal Lodge fit for purpose'. Print Edition | Subscribe