Indonesian officials conduct training for S'pore animal welfare groups ahead of dog sterilisation scheme

During the training programme, participants from animal welfare groups were taken to various outfield sites where trainers demonstrated how they captured strays using nets. PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD AND VETERINARY AUTHORITY
Trainers and participants captured 12 stray dogs during the training programme. These dogs will be sterilised and rehomed or released back to the areas where they were caught. PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD AND VETERINARY AUTHORITY

SINGAPORE - The Republic has roped in help from Indonesia to train Singapore volunteers and public servants to prepare for a nationwide dog sterilisation programme to be rolled out here later this year.

Twenty-two volunteers from eight animal welfare groups and nine Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) staff were trained by six Indonesian officials over four days, from Sept 25 to 28.

They were trained to capture and handle stray dogs humanely, among other things.

One of the Indonesian officials is the former national master trainer from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases Indonesia, and the other five are from the Indonesian government, AVA said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 9). The team includes two vets and three dog catchers.

The officials have been conducting mass vaccinations of stray dogs in Bali since 2011, as part of a rabies control programme under Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture.

The training was conducted ahead of a national Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM) programme that will be progressively carried out in Singapore from the last quarter of this year.

AVA will work with 11 animal welfare groups, veterinarians and other stakeholders as part of the programme.

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On why the Indonesian officials were invited to help with the training, Mr Joshua Teoh, director of AVA's animal management group, said that the operations in Bali the officials participated in are similar to Singapore's nationwide sterilisation programme, in which a large number of dogs would be caught, vaccinated and sterilised, before they are released or rehomed.

He said the nationwide TNRM programme is happening "very soon" and that the AVA is looking forward to working with animal welfare groups here on it.

One of the Indonesian trainers, Dr Ahmad Gozali, said: "We hope that through this training programme, participants are equipped not just with the knowledge but, most importantly, also with the skills they need in the area of humane capturing and handling of the strays."

Singapore volunteers and public servants were taught techniques on this on the first day of training, where they also learnt about the behaviour of stray dogs.

They were then brought to various outfield sites over the next three days, where trainers demonstrated how they captured strays using nets.

Among the techniques taught include a ninja technique, in which one person distracts the dog while another approaches from behind to trap the dog in a net.

The trainers and participants caught a total of 12 dogs during the training. These dogs will be sterilised and rehomed or released back to the areas where they were caught.

Animal welfare groups that attended the training were impressed by the skills of the trainers and said the programme was beneficial.

Mr V. Mohan, an operations executive with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: "Even though I have been rescuing animals for 27 years, I still learnt a lot of new ideas from the training... which I can incorporate into my future rescue work."

Ms Alyssa Lim, director of Mercylight, said the training allowed her to learn practical skills from professionals.

She added: "As trapping of dogs requires teamwork, our challenge now is to apply the skills and knowledge we attained over the past week, in training our own volunteers."

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