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    Jun 17, 2016

    Adoptions hit by SPCA shift to Kranji facility

    SIX months after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) made its move from Mount Vernon to the greener pastures of Sungei Tengah, its far-flung location appears to be causing problems for the organisation.

    Adoption rates of abandoned and stray animals have dropped from about 95 a month at the old premises to about 66 a month currently, the SPCA's acting executive director Jaipal Singh Gill told The Straits Times.

    "Adoptions are one of the key ways that we save lives, so it's a little worrying and I think it's most likely because we are now a little bit less accessible," said the 33-year-old.

    "We still have a fair number of people coming through but they tend to be visiting farms and other attractions in the area and just coming through to have a look."

    Visitor numbers died down after an initial flurry of activity in the weeks after it settled into its new home in Kranji.

    While there is a bus stop outside the premises that is plied by the 975 and 172 services, the nearest MRT station at Choa Chu Kang is not within walking distance.

    The SPCA's shelter currently houses about 208 animals, up from the 160 it hovered around at the old premises, but less than its current capacity of about 300.

    Another issue posed by the new western location is that its emergency services, which respond to calls about injured or stray street animals, take longer to get to places in the east.

    "If we get a call from Changi or Pasir Ris, it takes us much longer to respond, especially during peak hour when we're stuck in traffic just like everyone else," said Dr Gill. "We do ask people to stay with the animal until we get there, but that's not always possible."

    The new 7,700 sq m premises is three times larger than its former one, and houses facilities such as an open-air pavilion which has hosted educational talks, a dog training session and two birthday parties, among other events.

    Earlier this month, a movie screening under the stars was held at the events park in front of the building. The SPCA will host an open house this weekend with an art exhibition, public tours of the facility, games and other activities.

    The space is a far cry from the cramped room that served as meeting space, dining hall and education centre at Mount Vernon.

    Dr Gill, who hopes to have mini-camps and weekend events at the premises soon, added: "We have so many spaces now that we can use for education, which is so important to us. Everything else that we do, rescuing and taking in animals, it's firefighting."

    Animal lover and student Amy Tan has not been to the SPCA's new premises because of its lack of accessibility but plans to attend this weekend's open house.

    "With the new location, going all the way there is a bit of a hassle because I don't drive and it's far from the train station," said the 22-year-old who lives in Queenstown.