Raising awareness on issues facing our favourite cuddly creatures
By Prabhu Silvam
Deon Toh, co-organizer of Animal Day, shared with Campus his passion for animals, insights into topics like animal cruelty and what the youth can do to help.
1) What was the inspiration for Thunder Rock to organize Animal Day?
Thunder Rock School has been working with 313@Somerset for a while now. After brainstorming on how to make our performances more meaningful, we came up with the concept of celebrating Animal Day. All our staff at TRS are animal lovers. Ian Toh the Principal used to volunteer at SPCA, David Tang a DJ and co-organiser of the event used to be a zookeeper before. The school houses three cats that were abandoned. Naturally, the animal lovers at the school rallied behind the idea and “Animal Day @ 313” was born.
2) In the event description, the issues of animal cruelty, abandoned animals and the illegal wildlife trade are mentioned. Can you provide a brief background on each of these issues in Singapore? How does the problem here compare to the region?
The biggest issue that ACRES, who is the official ambassador of World Animal Day faces is the illegal wildlife trade. Singapore is one of the top ten illegal wildlife trade hubs in the world and there is a constant fight to reduce the amount of illegal wildlife trade activities in the region. By voicing this concern through the event, we can definitely raise awareness.
Action for Singapore Dogs, ASD, was setup in 2000 to counter the problem of stray dogs in Singapore. Currently there are between 5,000 – 8,000 stray dogs in Singapore. Their rescue shelter houses over 100 dogs. As the operational costs can run high, they are constantly looking for people to adopt or sponsor the animals.
The Cat Welfare Society also faces the same problem of strays. Their society believes in sterilization as a key method in controlling these numbers. Their hope is that Singaporeans become more aware of the plight of cats in Singapore, and that cats are part of the society, and culling is definitely not the way to go.
Very often, people are unaware of the actual costs of keeping a pet – which not only involves monetary, but also emotional and physical inputs. They are uninformed of the cruel methods used to obtain illegal animals or animal parts – whose demand continues to surge in the region. The key lies in education, which all organizations involved in Animal Day are helping to champion.
4) What can the youth do to help the situation?
Adopting instead of buying pets would help to reduce the number of strays. The zest and energy in youths will always be an essential factor to help promote anti-abuse messages. Animal organizations are always in need of an extra pair of hands. The fight for animal welfare should be passed on to the next generation, and educating the youths should start today.
Lend your support! Head down to Animal Day: Animals In-Sync at 313@Somerset on Saturday, October 8 & Sunday, October 9 from 11am – 8pm both days. A number of prominent local musicians will be performing to show their support for the cause! Plus, you can purchase artwork at the event with proceeds going to sponsor organizations. Click here for more details.