Born and raised in Singapore, Ada Ang has called Brunei home since 2000. She is the co-founder of Care and Actions for Strays (CAS), a non-government organisation that promotes responsible pet ownership and addresses issues with stray animals. Ang has also been in the quest for a stray-free Brunei for nearly 20 years.
What made you want to start up CAS?
CAS was officially registered in 2007 as a non-government organisation but before that, we worked informally since 2001 which is when I started doing this.
At that time, there were no organisations that were dedicated to helping strays in Brunei, apart from vets and caring individuals. We decided to register ourselves formally to be more active in educating the public about caring for strays.
Progressive means to be continually investing in self-development and becoming more compassionate, and then giving back to society.
Tell us a little bit about what happens at CAS daily.
Firstly, CAS has no physical shelter. This is mainly because we don’t have the funds for it and we don’t want to encourage people dumping animals at our facility. There are dogs under our care but where we keep them is confidential.
Our monthly operating costs is $10,000 with about 20 to 30 per cent of that publicly funded. For daily operations, CAS has five volunteers and five salaried staff.
Between Kuala Belait and Bandar Seri Begawan, we care for 150 dogs — three quarters are in foster homes and some are on the streets under our feeding programme. What’s important to note is that we never feed without neutering first.
Neutering the animals isn’t cheap, but it is the only way to control the population. It will lessen them from being a nuisance to the public. Animals have a basic instinct to survive: food, water and shelter, and they will start breeding once they have all three aspects.
What do you think the level of public awareness in Brunei is on stray animals?
In the early stages, a lot of people were feeding the strays, but no one was controlling the population. This is where we play our role as we are not just focused on feeding them but also neutering them as well.
Since we started, the public is becoming more aware, especially the younger generation. They’re more willing to become volunteers and they also call us when they see animals — even dogs — in distress. So, they do care more now. Having said that, there’s still a lot of work to do to improve this awareness.
Have you seen a decrease in the stray population in Brunei? How do you think the public can help more?
I think that the stray population has gone down a bit and that is itself a form of success for our organisation. If we have more funding, we’ll be able to do so much more.
Generally, urban strays are a result of irresponsible pet ownership. Strays are 10 percent of the general population. This means that with enough funding for our neutering programme and mobile clinic, I am confident that we can be more effective at our job.
On average, I can say that our ballpark figure is that we care for 600 animals a year, including feeding, neutering and putting them into homes through our adoption programme.
What are your goals for CAS?
The goals of CAS go beyond just the animals. Our treatment of animals shows our capacity for empathy and kindness. As for CAS, if we can get 100,000 Bruneians to give us just $1 a month, it would help bring the stray population to zero in five years. When the stray population reduces, everybody will benefit from it.