AVA acknowledges it hires contractors to remove cats, and cats all taken to pound

AVA said that it occasionally hires contractors to remove animals that are reported to have entered residents' homes. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Addressing a recent encounter between a Cat Welfare Society (CWS) mediator and a cat trapper who said he was hired by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), the AVA said it does hire contractors to remove animals that are reported to have entered residents' homes.

"From time to time, AVA receives distress calls from residents when animals enter homes," an AVA spokesman told The Straits Times on Sunday (May 28).

"Some residents have a genuine fear of animals and are unable to remove the animal on their own. In such circumstances, AVA does engage contractors to help residents remove the animal."

The incident was brought to light by Mr Cheng Tiong, a CWS mediator who said in a Facebook post on May 21 that he approached a man in a blue van, who carried a net and carrier.

He said the man, a commercial cat trapper, said he was there to catch a cat that had got into a resident's house.

Mr Cheng said he followed the man to the unit where no cat was found.

He then told the trapper that he was the mediator in the area and would handle the issue, but the trapper allegedly said he was sent by the AVA and he had to deliver the cat or he would not be paid. Eventually, he left without finding the cat.

Mr Cheng in his post said the cat trapper could have caught any cat to fulfil his quota, which raises concerns about the safety of cats.

AVA in its reply to ST said it closes the loop by checking with the person who provided the feedback to check if the contractor was present, and if the correct animal was removed.

What happens to cats that are trapped and taken to the AVA?

AVA said: "All cats trapped by our contractors will be sent to the AVA pound where they are cared for by officers on duty daily - including weekends and public holidays."

The spokesman added that if the cats are found to be pet cats, AVA will attempt to reunite them with their owners through advertisements.

For cats that are suitable for rehoming, AVA said it would work with its rehoming partners to rehome the felines.

Responding to this specific incident, AVA said it received a distress call from a member of the public regarding a cat that had entered his father's residence.

"According to the feedback provider, his father was very scared of the cat. AVA thus activated a contractor to assist in the removal of the cat," said the spokesman.

"No cat was trapped eventually, as the contractor was unable to find the cat."

CWS executive director Laura Ann Meranda told ST on Sunday that while CWS works very closely with AVA in all cat matters, it was very concerned that this case was dealt with differently, such that an animal contractor was hired, as 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.

"Mediation has played a big part in how we are able to resolve many cases humanely and that was the element that was missing in this case," said Ms Meranda.

"We have asked for a review and would like to see a better process of dealing with cases, even for those that are urgent and on a Sunday."

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