Twelve Nights 十二夜 Singapore version?
Dear readers, here’s a diary entry recording my one-day outing with Raye, the director of Taiwan documentary “Twelve Nights 十二夜” and Mr Teo from BEKO Smart Nation.
Someone asked me why did I agree to attend/cover this event when this (voluntary work/saving animals) is not something I do or write usually. I was rather offended by his remark. Do I really need a reason to do something I am interested or passionate about? I don’t have to declare what I did prior to acting and blogging, but I was active in environmental (NUSSU) and animal welfare (NUS PEACE) clubs back during university days. These involvement were on hiatus when studies, work and relationship problems took up all my time.
So when news about the screening of “Twelve Nights 十二夜” was announced, I thought it will be good to return to something I’ve always been passionate about, this time writing and sharing something that isn’t often shared by Singaporean bloggers.
My happiness was doubled when Mr Teo from BEKO Smart Nation got to know about my reviewing of the documentary and invited me to visit the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Save Our Street Dogs (SoSD) together with Raye, the director of Twelve Nights 十二夜. I decided to pull 2 of my photographer friends along who were equally excited with the opportunity. I was surprised to know that it was only Raye, Mr Teo from BEKO and I visiting the shelters (too used to mass blogger events!).
Here’s a news feature from Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA 中央社新闻 aka Focus Taiwan) about the appearance of Sonia Sui and the director Raye at Marina Barrage for the screening of Twelve Nights 十二夜.
Visit to Save Our Street Dogs (SoSD)
Founded in July 2011, this non-profit organisation for the Singapore Street Dogs was set up by a group of volunteering stray lovers, feeders and rescuers from different walks of life. I did not know about the existence of this group prior to the visit, but it is good to learn about SoSD’s efforts! Located at a secluded part of Pasir Ris, the SOSD Rehabilitation Center is surrounded by animal-related business entities such as Pet Hotel, Pet Farms and Pet Movers. It is an irony when I saw these neighbouring businesses, it’s like seeing an orphanage along Orchard Road.
We were shown around the Rehabilitation Center, taking a look at the different sections (or departments) while Dr. Siew, president of SoSD (Yes, the tall guy in white!) explained to us how these dogs were handled. Dogs were rescued from various places, such as factories, streets, AVA or even from the SPCA.
They were then quarantined and cared for back to health before they were placed in the healthy zones with other dogs. We were actually shouting to one another as all the dogs were barking happily when they saw us. The volunteers were able to tell us the little story background of the different dogs, as well as their behaviour and little quirks.
Instead of cages, the dogs were housed in little sections (similar to student hostels and dormitories) together with other dogs that they can get along with. Most of the dogs who had difficulty getting adopted are mainly large size dogs which are not HDB-approved.
While I was feeling the ache for these dogs, I was surprised when Meiyi (the Education Outreach Officer) told me that SoSD allow sponsorship (similar to World Vision’s Sponsor A Child program), for people who wish to help these dogs but do not have the time or space for them.
Through this Sponsor-A-Dog (SAD) programme, people who long to keep a dog, but cannot do so will be able to do their part for these stray dogs. Not only will these sponsors receive monthly updates and photos of their dog, their name will be displayed outside the kennel and on the website, they will also get to visit their sponsored dog at SRC on a weekly basis! To know more, read the SoSD SAD FAQ.
Raye is interested to see how different shelters operate in different countries and cities. In “Twelve Nights”, the shelter which was filmed ( Changhua County’s Yuanlin Township 彰化員林流浪犬收容所) is a public shelter where there is limited funding. Also, the shelter is unable to reject the dogs abandoned by owners and have to catch the stray dogs when requested by the public. Thus, the shelter is often over-crowded, causing disease and virus to spread.
There was a group of new Team Kennel volunteers undergoing some basic training by Uncle Chew. They were learning how to put dogs on leash when taking them out for walks. The interactive way Uncle Chew used to teach the volunteers amused everyone.
Dogs need to run in order to burn off their energy. When dogs are under-stimulated, they tend to become destructive and hyper. Thus, the shelter needs volunteers to help walk these dogs to maintain their health. Not only so, as a volunteer, you are exercising when running the dogs.
If you are interested to be a volunteer, or want to know more about volunteering with SoSD, do check out this page.
Address: 22 Pasir Ris Farmway 2, Swift Singapore, Unit 13/14.
Visitation Sessions: 11.30am every first & last Sunday of the month. (approx. 45mins)
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SOSDSingapore
All visits require prior appointments. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact number and preferred date. For more information, click here.
Volunteers needed at the SoSD Flag Day
SoSD is organizing a Flag Day on 9 November 2014.
The theme – ‘A New Start’, resonates with SoSD’s daily work – to rescue Singapore’s homeless and abandoned dogs, giving them a 2nd chance, and a new start in life.
Sign up via the form or email email@example.com
*Full Day Volunteers will receive a limited edition FlashPay card!
Visit to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
After visiting SoSD, we went to the SPCA at Mount Vernon. I’ve called SPCA twice few years back, once because of a bird with broken leg and the other time for an abandoned kitten. I did not have much of an impression for SPCA when they called me to inform me that the kitten would be put down if there was no one to adopt it. I was worried and had to search around for available adopters. Luckily, my NUS professor took up the role and adopted the kitten.
Upon arrival to SPCA, it seemed like there were not much difference from the SRC from the outside. I was ready to brace myself against the imaginary odour from the overcrowding of animals (like what I watch on the trailer from Twelve Nights).
Well, to my surprise, I was VERY wrong. The shelter is very clean, spacious and airy. For every section we were brought to, we had to step on the disinfecting carpet to ensure we don’t bring any germs in or out of the shelter. At the cat zone, the cats were allowed to roam about with toys and furnitures donated by people. The little room was also painted by student volunteers to give it a more cheerful atmosphere.
Besides cats and dogs, there were also rabbits and hamsters. Corrine, the Executive Director of SPCA explained to us how the type of animals being abandoned were often connected with the zodiac as well as the “latest trend”. There will be a hike in the number of abandoned rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs during or after the year of rat and rabbit. Also, a certain species of dog will increase every time after a certain canine-related blockbuster/ Disney movie (like Hotel for Dogs, 101 Dalmatians, Santa Paws) is out. Many children will pester their parents to buy that particular animal and when the novelty wears off, the animals were be found on the doorsteps of SPCA.
Besides that, animals are often abandoned the very moment they get sick. Many owners buy pets without knowing the high veterinary and maintenance cost. While SPCA is unable to turn away these animals, the officers will usually try their best to assist these owners by educating them how to take care of their pets, hoping that they will give the pets a second chance before giving up on them.
I was impressed how SPCA operates in a systematic and orderly way. Like a factory assembly line, every morning, the dogs will be brought out for walks while their cages are being cleaned by workers. They will then have their meals before the shelter opens for visiting. There will also be volunteers who will go into the kennels to pet and stroke the dogs, letting them get used to human touch, so as to condition and prepare them for adoption. In the evening, when the shelter closes, most dogs will be let out to play (to let out their energy) before going back to their kennels to rest.
Corrine clarified my misconception about SPCA. Animals in SPCA are being put down only when they are really sick, it was then I remembered that the kitten adopted by my professor died few months later, as it was already in a bad condition when I found it. However, I was still glad that the kitten had 2 months of warmth before it left the world.
Here in SPCA, there are dogs which have been with SPCA for more than 5 years!
Besides the quarantined area where cameras are not allowed (Once again, they are clean and odour-free), SPCA also has a mini clinic which provides very basic consultation service on Saturdays (strictly by appointment only) for community animals (stray animals).
Corrine shared with us her experiences at SPCA, the different types of people she met, as well as the debatable topic of euthanasia. Should an animal be put down because it is ill, or should it be given the right to live (and maybe suffer) until it dies? This is a common debate topic even for us human.
*A clinic appointment can be made by calling 6287 5355 (between 8 am and 5 pm on Mondays to Fridays).
Besides taking care of the animals’ welfare, SPCA also have to handle cruelty and abandonment cases (See here for list of appeals/unsolved cases). While there is a strict fine of up to SGD $10,000, a jail term of up to a year, or both imposed on animal negligence/torture cases and pet abandonment (See FAQ by Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA)), there are not many people who are willing to stand up to identify these wrongdoers (often their neighbours!).
For abandonment cases, pet owners guilty of the crime will usually claim that the pet had ran off itself.
Address: 31, Mount Vernon Road, Singapore 368054
Viewing Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – 10.00am to 4.00pm.
Sunday and Public Holidays (PH) – 11.00am to 3.30pm.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/spcasingapore
Emergency Hotline: 62875355 ext. 9 (24h)
Twelve Nights Screening at Marina Barrage
After the half day “excursion”, I had a short break before moving on to the open space movie screening at Marina Barrage.
This was Raye’s first time visiting Singapore, and she was very touched that there are many dog-lovers here too. When asked about the response from the audience in Taiwan after watching the film, she mentioned how some kennel workers find that the documentary had put them in a bad light, making them look cruel and heartless. On the other hand, some volunteers said that the film had “beautify” the shelters, the atmosphere during euthanasia was worse than that.
However, the aim of “Twelve Nights” was to let everyone understand that if we abandon our pets, this will be the “nights” they have to go through. So if you are able to adopt (instead of buying) a pet, this is the change you can make.
The response was well-received, having more than 5000 people attending the event. Many people actually brought their pets along, despite the event organizer’s discouragement. As there are a lot of barks and whine in the film, sensitive dogs might feel uncomfortable (Imagine us human hearing people screaming for help throughout the film). When Raye was editing the film, even her dogs were whining sadly when they heard the yelp. (Sigh, Singaporeans simply don’t listen!) But luckily, there weren’t much disturbance from the pets (all well-trained!) throughout the screening!
Besides the MediaCorp artistes, I also spotted Utt! I guess he’s an animal-lover too!
*Sidenote: He will be appearing in Mark Lee’s upcoming movie “Peacocking” together with Mario Maurer (Promoting, cause I’m involved too)!
Mr Teo explained that BEKO ideology is inspired by love and the theme of love transcend across their brand and products. BEKO believe that the love should be equal and shared across all, be it helping human or animals. Animal abuse & abandon of animal is a social issue often neglected and BEKO hope to play a part in making some difference in somebody/some animal’s life.
Often, many brands are unwilling to sponsor causes or initiatives which are unrelated to them (Trust me, I’ve been there, done that!) I’m very touched by their efforts and hopefully, BEKO’s move can inspire more unrelated brand to sponsor animal welfare initiatives!
Sonia who is also the co-producer of the “Twelve Nights” documentary graced the event and watched the film together with everyone else. When approached by MediaCorp, she accepted the offer without second thought. She even help to pay for some of the expenses, and made special arrangement to attend this event. (My photographer friends were all starstrucked when they saw her and snapped
millions hundreds of photos of her!)
(See! Mountain People Mountain Sea… 人山人海! Haha >.<) Halfway through the film, there was a slight drizzle, but no one left. Most took out their umbrella and continued to watch the show. Both Raye and Sonia were very touched by everyone’s support!
Twelve Nights 十二夜 Movie
To learn more about the documentary Twelve Nights 十二夜, do visit their official website or their Facebook Page.
To know more about the director Raye, or if you wish to ask her any questions, feel free to visit her Facebook Page.
To read my review about the documentary, click here.
I will be posting a short transcript of my interview with Raye in the comments section below, so do look out for it! 🙂
To learn more about the official sponsors for the movie screening in Singapore Marina Barrage, click on the following links below!
BEKO’s official website and Facebook Page
MediaCorp Toggle/TAP official website and Facebook Page.
Special thanks to Zen Tan and Yasu Goh for the wonderful photographs!
Do visit Zen Tan’s Facebook Page and Yasu Goh’s Facebook Page to check out their photos!