Pets are less important than cigarettes in eyes of Singapore authorities

The pet rules debate rages. Rather than repeat ad-nausem my take on it, I am putting the latest round that took place on the Today tabloid here in chronological order. While it is good to see readers on the side of the doggies, I am even more happy to see that someone else is getting what I feel is the gist of the rebuttal that AVA should be flung in the face with: the last letter says pretty much what I had in a letter a few years back. Let’s hope more will come forward and tell Singapore authorities just what the thinking public thinks about their excuses policies of non-intervention, template responses notwithstanding.


This story was printed from TODAYonline

More abandon pedigree dogs

As number rises to alarming levels, SPCA calls for action

Thursday • February 28, 2008

Leong Wee Keat

AS THE number of abandoned pedigree dogs shot up alarmingly last year, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has urged the authorities to tighten the import, commercial breeding and sale of such dogs.

Three years ago, about one in four lost and unwanted dogs was a purebred. This number rose to “alarming levels” last year, with one in two unwanted dogs a pedigreed. Overall, the SPCA received an average of 250 lost or unwanted dogs each month last year.

The trend shows no signs of abating. Last month, the SPCA received 125 lost and unwanted pedigreed dogs alone. Some reasons cited by owners giving up their canines included leaving the country, moving house, expecting a child and — a frequent excuse — no time to look after it.

In light of this, SPCA has written in to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) asking for curbs to be placed on the import and commercial breeding or sale of pedigree dogs.

“It’s time to take stock of the number being bred, sold and imported annually and to see if there are enough homes for them,” SPCA executive officer Deirdre Moss told Today. “There is definitely a surplus (of pedigreed dogs) and too many people buying on the spur of the moment.”

Another animal welfare group, Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), supported SPCA’s call. Over the last six months, ASD president Ricky Yeo said the society has seen a 20 to 30 per cent increase in pedigreed strays being picked up.

Even more worryingly, he notes, this trend means that the chances of rescued local mongrels being adopted have also eroded, as pedigreed dogs are seen as being “superior”. At ASD, the adoption rate for pedigrees is on the rise, while that for mongrels has been slipping, said Mr Yeo.

An AVA spokesperson said the authority understands SPCA’s concerns but reiterated that Singapore operates on “a free market system”. He said: “It would not be appropriate to restrict the number and type of dogs imported or bred and sold commercially as long as the pet business is legal and complies with the regulations and applicable conditions.”

With the revision of the Animals and Birds (Licensing and Control) Rule last September, the spokesperson said AVA has also introduced several measures — such as compulsory microchipping and introduction of a differential fee for sterilised and unsterilised pet dogs — to discourage abandonment. Tighter controls on breeding dog populations on dog farms were also put in place.

Ms Moss urged would-be owners to think long-term before getting a dog. “Dogs require a lot of attention, socialisation and training,” she said. “Your part of the bargain also has to be fulfilled — you have to spend time with them and communicate with them. It is not unlike having a child.”

Under the Animals and Birds Act, a person found guilty of abandonment of an animal could be fined up to $10,000 or jailed a year, or both.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Letter response 1

This story was printed from TODAYonline

Ban import of pets

If you want pets, please adopt one that has been abandoned Time for pet owners to reflect on their actions

Friday • February 29, 2008

Letter from TAN CHEK WEE
I REFER to the report, “More abandon pedigree dogs” (Feb 28).

My work as a homecare doctor brings me to homes across the social strata.

I see dogs tied to fences with short leashes. I see rabbits confined in fish tanks. I see turtles swimming desperately to keep afloat in pails of water.

I once saw a poodle kept in a cage with its paws on a base of grills so that it is easier for the domestic helper to clear the excrement from the bottom tray.

With animal welfare shelters filled beyond the brim, I hope the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore will now consider the many appeals by those concerned about the welfare of animals: Ban the import of pets, stop local breeding and impose compulsory “pet responsibility” classes before a dog licence is issued.

There are more than enough abandoned animals to satisfy the needs of genuine adopters.

I appeal to people seeking animal companionship to adopt pets from shelters instead of buying them from pet shops.

I COULDN’T agree more with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief Deirdre Moss’ view that too many people in Singapore are buying pedigree dogs on the spur of the moment.

That there are more purebred dogs being abandoned is a reflection of the nonchalant attitude of a certain section of society towards pet ownership.

There is a saying that goes: One is judged by the way he treats an animal.

Looking at the disturbing trend of more strays being picked up, I’d say that the public should start reflecting on their actions.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Letter response 2

This story was printed from TODAYonline
A cute puppy is not just a status symbol

Tuesday • March 4, 2008

Letter from Tan Ai Ling
I refer to the report “More abandon pedigree dogs” (Feb 28).

If there are stricter laws on licensing, the problem will only escalate. May I suggest the following two-pronged approach?

First, pet shops should micro-chip the dogs and submit the particulars of those who buy them to Agro-Veterinary Authority (AVA). Only those who are able to prove that their abode is suitable for the type of dog they wish to buy will be allowed to do so. Immediate registration should be part of the service and the duty of responsible pet shops.

Second, the AVA and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) seem to have different aims, though I am given to understand that the underlying principle of both organisations is to ensure the humane treatment of animals. Furthermore, the grim burden of the SPCA can only be eased with the support of the AVA. As such, the AVA should enforce front-end practices in pet shops to create a more responsible pet ownership environment.

This two-pronged approach should curb impulse or inappropriate purchases. Hopefully, like the World Wildlife Fund’s slogan, “When the buying stops, the killing can too”.

Finally, the SPCA should seriously consider campaigns which avoid depicting cute animals in favour of the truth. After all, young, healthy animals that end up there are likely to be euthanised and not become candidates for resort-living. I have met many people who tell their children that “Fluffy has gone to a lovely home” when they drop a dog off with a donation.

I appeal to everyone considering a dog — the cost is not the initial thousand dollars, but the thousands of dollars for vet bills (especially in their last days), damaged furnishings, as well as the hundreds of hours spent cleaning, training and integrating a dog into your family.

I have had two dogs, both lived to ripe old ages of 13 and 15 respectively. Unfortunately, dogs are not like children who learn to clean up after themselves and can be reasoned with.

Dogs remain eternally child-like and thus, unless you are ready for a toddler for the next 10 to 15 years, I suggest you get a RoboDog.

A gracious society is not one where, if you scratch the surface, what is revealed is the shallow need to purchase a status symbol.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

AVA template response

This story was printed from TODAYonline

Abandoning a pet is an offence

Tuesday • March 11, 2008

Letter from GOH SHIH YONG
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications for Chief Executive Officer
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority

I refer to the letters by Mr Tan Chek Wee and Ms Marianne Maes “Ban import of pets” (Feb 29) and by Ms Tan Ai Ling “A cute puppy is not just a status symbol” (March 4), on pet abandonment. We are heartened by their concern for animal welfare and would like to thank them for their suggestions on deterring pet abandonment.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) agrees with the writers that to curb impulse buying and deter abandonment, it is important for potential pet owners to be aware of the responsibilities of ownership.

The AVA has been actively promoting responsible pet ownership through talks, demonstrations, road shows, mass media efforts and collaborations with animal welfare organisations. These efforts have spread the message to many potential owners that a pet is for life and to think carefully before getting a pet.

For existing owners, the AVA has been encouraging responsible care of their pets and also pet sterilisation to prevent indiscriminate breeding and abandonment of unwanted pets. The financial resources required for pet care are also discussed to prepare potential owners for the inherent expenses of pet ownership.

The AVA also enforces regulations such as pet shop licensing and dog licensing to safeguard animal welfare and instill responsible pet ownership.

Ms Tan may be pleased to know that pet shops are already required to submit particulars of buyers to the AVA and to ensure microchipping of all dogs for sale. Pet shops are also required to provide customers with advice on the care of the pet.

In addition, with the recent revision of the Animals and Birds (Licensing and Control) rule in September last year, it is now compulsory for all owners to microchip their dogs, providing a greater traceability in cases of pet abandonment.

It would not be appropriate to ban import of dogs as long as the business is legitimate and complies with the rules and regulations as Singapore operates on a free-market system. Moreover, such an import ban may not necessarily resolve the problem of irresponsible pet ownership and may even promote illegal pet smuggling and breeding to meet demand.

We would also like to take this opportunity to emphasise that abandoning a pet should never be an option as it is cruel and an offence. Under the Animals and Birds Act, anyone convicted of pet abandonment can be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months.

The AVA will continue its public education efforts and stress to pet shops the need to promote responsible pet ownership. Although we may not be able to adopt all the writers’ suggestions, we will take them into consideration when we review the animal welfare regulations and programmes.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Letter response to AVA template response

This story was printed from TODAYonline

AVA’s stand reduces dogs to ‘mere property’

Tuesday • March 18, 2008

Letter from Satveer Kaur

I write in response to “Abandoning a pet is an offence” (March 11) from the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

While I applaud AVA’s initiatives such as campaigns promoting responsible pet ownership and the new dog licensing rules, I am disappointed with its reponse that “it would not be appropriate to ban import of dogs” citing that “Singapore operates on a free-market system”.

Does this not reduce dogs to being merely property? They are living, sentient beings and should not be treated as goods subject to market forces.

In Singapore, we are not slaves to the market. Cigarettes are highly taxed and the number of cars sold is regulated. All this is done to protect the interests of the people. The same should be done in the interests of animals.

AVA’s statement reduces animals to the same category as say, furniture and clothes.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.


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