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Stray dog culling not a pretty sight

Stray dog culling not a pretty sight

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I saw them chased down and strangled to death or caught barely alive by dog-catchers and sent to their deaths.

By Belmont Lay

Watching a stray dog getting strangled by dog-catchers and then hauled into the back of a truck is pretty grotesque.

If my memory serves me well, the one and only time I witnessed the “live” culling of dogs in the wild was in 2004.

That was the second year into my National Service.

I remember very clearly the day the culling of stray dogs took place: It was out in the open, grassy area, adjacent to a reservoir on a bright and sunny weekday afternoon.

There was a pack of dogs hanging around. I noticed them the moment I set foot at that location (but where exactly, my memory remains fuzzy).

A couple of them were still barely active, while another two to three of the mongrels were curled up on their sides motionless, but breathing. I could see the sides of their skinny, furry frame rise and fall as they breathed rather slowly.

The dogs – I need to embellish this description a bit to give you some idea how they looked – were emaciated, ribs sticking out, tongues hanging from the side of their mouths. They were all looking on edge.

And very hungry. On the brink of collapse.

At that point in time, as far as I’m concerned, dogs in packs can be territorial. They will not hesitate to make their presence felt if they feel like they have strength in numbers.

However, they do back off if they’ve ever had any unpleasant experiences with humans. And they kept a safe distance from where I was.

So I thought that as long as I left them on their own, they would leave me to my own devices as well.

And then, out of nowhere, the culling began.

That was also when things started to go pear-shaped.

The really strange thing was, I didn’t even notice the dog-catchers had arrived on the scene because I didn’t see them anywhere in sight.

They were stealthy alright.

But the few dogs that were capable of moving, started to run away, looking as if they were taking cover.

Dogs being dogs, were alert as hell and instinctively knew danger lurked around the corner.

And that was also when I noticed a white pick-up truck had pulled up and out came at least two men with sticks that had a wire loop attached at one end.

That, I was to learn, was used to hook the dogs’ necks as they were chased down and the wire tightened like a noose that resulted in strangulation, as well as a lot of kicking and struggling and convulsing to escape.

It was a very frightening way to put an end to things considering how scrawny their necks were.

I watched as those that were caught were dragged, with nary a whimper, and hauled into the waiting vehicle.

There wasn’t any sound coming out of the dogs’ throats because they were probably dead by then or, I assume, in the process of strangulation. And probably choking on their own tongues.

I also assume, quite liberally, that before this operation took place, the dogs were probably fed food spiked with something that made them weak and disoriented.

And the dog-catchers, had in their previous attempt, failed to get rid of the whole pack. They were back this time. And for revenge.

But the instinct to fight, flee and stay alive is indeed very strong.

The pack of about five dogs were very quickly reduced to about two, but those two were not giving up without a battle of wits and for survival.

They ducked, darted back and forth, evaded attempts to corner it, and very generally, gave those dog-catchers a run for their money.

The sad bastards with their sticks were falling over themselves trying to latch on to the dogs by their necks.

Eventually, though, weakened from the running and chasing, the strays succumbed.

Noose around their necks, body hardened and contorted from all that stress and adrenaline from the chase, they were dragged across the grass with some difficulty and hauled by their necks into the back of the waiting truck.

If children were there to witness what I saw, they would have screamed. Women would have fainted. Men of great faith might have been tempted to repudiate and declare themselves atheists.

And this was in Singapore, mind you.

If not for this overzealous letter from a member of the public to have dogs exterminated, I would probably have left this grotesque memory in cold storage.

As of today, I still haven’t got a clue where those dog-catchers were from but they sure looked like hired killers to me.

I also have no idea what dangers strays pose other than being a possible nuisance to members of the public, especially when they dash across the road during heavy traffic and become road kill and fender benders.

And is there any protocol dictating just how humanely or inhumanely animals should be put down?

Maybe somebody can enlighten us about this?