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Rat infestation: AVA to continue with stray dog control operations

SINGAPORE — About 100 instances of feedback about stray dogs and the feeding of these dogs in the Bukit Batok Central area — which have been cited as the main cause of a rat infestation in the estate — have been sent to the authorities as of November this year.

SINGAPORE — About 100 instances of feedback about stray dogs and the feeding of these dogs in the Bukit Batok Central area — which have been cited as the main cause of a rat infestation in the estate — have been sent to the authorities as of November this year.

Responding to media queries, the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it has been conducting stray dog control operations in the area in response to public feedback, and about 40 dogs have been rounded up in the Bukit Batok area this year so far.

“AVA works closely with the (animal welfare group) rehoming partners to rehome impounded dogs assessed to be suitable for rehoming, based on health and temperament,” a spokesperson said. “As there continues to be public feedback about aggressive stray dogs in the Bukit Batok area, AVA will be continuing our stray dog control operations there.” 

The rat infestation in Bukit Batok surfaced last week after members of the public shared videos of the rats scurrying over the slope near Bukit Batok MRT Station. Pest controllers launched control operations last Thursday, catching about 200 rats so far, and 20 infrared motion detector cameras were installed today(Dec 23) to monitor for rodent activity at night.

Animal welfare groups have also expressed concern that the blame heaped upon the feeding of strays for the problem would cast the practice in a poor light, and lead to a clampdown.   

The AVA noted that while the feeding of stray animals is well-intended, the feeding of stray dogs results in their population growing, while pests — such as rodents and other vermin — also flourish, causing hygiene and sanitation issues. “We appeal to the public to cooperate by not feeding stray dogs,” the spokesperson said. 

The authority also said overall, it has received about 2,300 instances of public feedback on stray dogs this year as of November, with some expressing fear and anxiety over the presence of the dogs, aggressive stray dogs and other related nuisances. 

Meanwhile, Star Pest Controller, which is overseeing the operations at Bukit Batok, said the latest phase of the operations — monitoring for rat activity at night — is expected to take around two weeks.

“We don’t know how many rats are still remaining in the forest, but once we have determined whether the rats are still active or not, we will decide our next course of action from there,” said Mr Bernard Chan, Star Pest Control’s manager. 

Baits have been placed at hotspots identified during the first phase of operations and a team of eight will monitor the cameras for movements round the clock. “We have been using the cameras for two years and it is very effective because it gives us adequate information on whether the targeted pest is still active,” said Mr Chan. 

His team will also notify the authorities if they spot any dog feeders in action. “Everyday, the pest control team finds dog food in different parts of the forest area. This means that the feeders probably sneak up the hill every night,” Mr Chan said. “Just yesterday, the team went for their dinner break and when they came back, food suddenly appeared out of nowhere.”

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