Monday, January 19, 2004

doomed to a watery grave

this was the fate of some stray dogs on Taiwanese military outposts on distant islets in the South China Sea and along the China coast.

a Taiwanese serviceman (they go thru NS like us) emailed a Taiwanese online paper in Dec last year about what he experienced on a Taiwanese-held island in the Spratlys . recently ORDed, he revealed that stray dogs ranging from puppies to full grown dogs, both the sick or healthy had been routinely brought out to sea, tied up and tossed overboard to drown. He had witnessed more than 20 dogs disposed during the one year he was posted there. only one managed to swim ashore. this lucky fella's life was spared.

he attached a heart-breaking series of "RIP" photos of the dogs and puppies. most had an ominous caption of "drowned at sea". (better don't show Robina, or she will cry buckets!)

apparently, most NS boys on the outpost were outraged and had complained to their CO, who ordered the drownings. but their CO "explained" that food resources on the island was scarce and not enough to feed the dogs. the informant said that the left-over food thrown away daily was more than enuff to keep the dogs alive. He argued that vets can help to sterilised the dogs to prevent over-population rather than the inhumane method of drowning. He added that even rubbish on the island was burnt and buried. recyclable items were even ferried back to the Taiwan. but the dogs had to face a cruel fate.

this post sparked off a fury of emails. many posters recalled similar incidents on the various island miiltary bases they were posted to during their NS days. these ranged from recent to 10-20 yrs ago. One journalist even recountered that he was ordered to throw a dog off a seaside cliff. he was traumatised till now by that incident. The newspaper tried to follow up by tracking down the CO mentioned in the earlier email but they were repeatedly stonewalled.

I still pay close attention to news about strays in Taiwan because Robina and I adopted one such puppy from Taiwan. we brought Sally back home with us to Singapore. but we often wondered about what happened to her brothers and sisters back in Taiwan (we were told Sally was picked up with her litter-mates). Taiwan has a bad rep amongst animal rights groups for inhumane treatment of strays in government-runned shelters (in some cases more like Nazi holocaust camps), illegal fishing of whale sharks and smuggling of exotic pets like Orang Utans and gibbons.

BUT before we get self-righteous, things aren't exactly hunky-dory in Singapore either. See the quiet culling of stray cats and dogs under the auspicies of "Singapore OK" hunting season during the SARS period. That was despite a sterilisation programme for stray cats runned by volunteers from the Cat Welfare Society. Singapore is frequently cited by international NGOs as a traffic centre for illegal timber and exotic animals. Apart from shipping and exporting, we are still a big consumer of sharks fin along with HK and Taiwan.


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