Category Archives: Pet Trade

Today 20090326: A little compassion will help pet owners

Another follow-up to TODAY 20090316: Rise in lost dogs, despite laws. This was sent in by a friend. She’s a dog-owner who also does TNRM. It is a bloody shame that her comments on the cat stats in the report were all taken out. I’m appending her original letter after the printed version for reference.

But before reading the letters, here’s an idea: after reading it, please follow the letter link on today online and post comments there. Do the same for the other letter, which is online only. Maybe we’ll get more some visibility about the facts behind the stats in the print version.

Today Online Voices Logo

A little compassion will help pet owners

Thursday • March 26, 2009

Letter from Lilian Teo

I REFER to “Rise in lost dogs, despite laws” (March 16).

The Housing and Development Board only allows one dog per flat from a list of small-sized dog breeds. The abandoned dogs reported by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals may have been owned by those who have had to downgrade from private property to public housing.

Also, large dogs may have been bought before the change in rules, and their owners feared running afoul of the law. For them abandoning their pet was the answer.

Exceptions should be made for such cases where the dog is not a dangerous breed.

Part of the problem is that behavioural training is not mandatory. Most dogs require instruction in how to behave around people.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority should legislate behaviour training for dogs and make it compulsory for pet shops to counsel dog buyers to send their pets for training. This is so as to reduce the number of dogs abandoned for being unmanageable.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Here’s the original version:

Subject: Response to “Rise in lost dogs, despite laws” (Mar 16)

Dear Editor and Mr Loh,
This report gives me mixed feelings as I am a dog lover who also manages the community cat population in my neighbourhood.

I believe the reason why the tighter dog-licence rules are proving ineffective is due to these rules being out of synch with the aspirations of the modern Singaporean who wants to have pets.

HDB only allows 1 dog per flat from an approved list of small-sized dog breeds. The abandoned dogs reported by SPCA may be former HDB pets or pet dogs whose owners have had to downgrade from private property to public housing and got hit by this rule. Also, large dogs may have been bought before the new licencing rules, and had owners who fear running afoul of regulations. For them abandoning their pets was the answer.

Therefore AVA and HDB should show compassion and empathy, and make exceptions for such cases where the dog does not come from a dangerous breed.

I also feel that part of the problem is that behavioral training is not mandated. Despite their image as obedient animals who are eager to please their human masters, most dogs do require “schooling” in order to know how to behave among people. The AVA should legislate behavior training for dogs and make it compulsory for pet shops to counsel dog buyers to send their newly bought pets for training to reduce the potential of dogs being abandoned for being unmanageable.

While I do not need the statistics for cats to confirm the success of my Trap-Neuter-Release Management (TNRM) programme, which is self-financed, it is good to see formal statistics affirming TNRM at the national level.

TNRM is both humane and effective. It will be even more successful if our leaders and the government agencies they run acknowledge this fact and support sterilisation instead of removal and culling, which is ineffective in managing cat issues. For example, Town Councils instinctively round up cats without first verifying the validity and true cause of cat-related complaints, leaving TNRM managers like me to sterilise the new cats that appear because of the vacuum effect.

HDB’s cat ban also causes problems: how can cat owners be made aware of their duty to be responsible if their pet cats are “illegal”?

Obviously, Singapore ’s pet rules have much room for improvement.


New Paper 20090314: Shop under fire for hamster giveaway

Follow-up to Pet Station’s Free Hamster Giveaway… I still got burning questions

Shop under fire for hamster giveaway

The Electric New Paper :

Shop under fire for hamster giveaway
Netizens up in arms after seeing e-flyer
IT WAS a marketing tactic that failed even before it started.
By Liew Hanqing
14 March 2009

IT WAS a marketing tactic that failed even before it started.

The offer: Spend $35 in a single receipt and get a free hamster.

The promotion, offered by Pets’ Station in Tiong Bahru Plaza, backfired after incensed netizens lashed out against it.

The advertisement had begun circulating online this week. The pet shop had planned to offer a free hamster for every $35 spent in a single receipt, or $25 for PAssion card holders.

The PAssion Card is a membership card for People’s Association grassroots leaders and members of the Community Clubs.

The shop’s e-flyer, which was later posted on a popular online forum, has caused an uproar among netizens. Many expressed the view that the promotion was cruel and that it was not right to give away an animal as a freebie.

Promotion cancelled

After netizens bombarded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) with e-mails and phone calls, the pet shop was instructed to cancel the promotion, which was supposed to run from 16-22 Mar.

A spokesman for Pets’ Station confirmed that the promotion, to be held at the atrium at Tiong Bahru Plaza, is off.

She told The New Paper: ‘We have responded to all e-mails and will stop all promotional activities which involve live pets.

‘We acknowledge negligence on our part, and would like to apologise to the public.’

A spokesman for AVA said it had received feedback from the public and had instructed the pet shop to cancel the promotion.

Said the spokesman: ‘At animal exhibitions, AVA does not allow the sale or giving away of any animal. This is to prevent impulse buying of pets and animals being given to people who do not really need them or are unable to take care of them, resulting in the abandonment of pets.’

Discussion was lively on the forum thread related to the promotion.

One netizen wrote: ‘After they adopt (an animal), they may abuse or just abandon them. It’s ridiculous to give out pets.’

Numerous bloggers also posted entries criticising the pet shop.

One blogger, dead_cockroach, wrote: ‘This is a very irresponsible marketing tactic. I foresee a number of these hamsters being neglected or abandoned at the void decks in due time when the novelty wears out.’

Another blogger, Dawn, wrote: ‘This is terrible. When you buy accessories, you get a free hamster?’

SPCA executive officer Deirdre Moss said: ‘It is marvellous that so many people are speaking up for animal welfare. These are people who received the promotion via e-mail and had acted on it immediately by voicing strong objections.’

Mr Louis Ng, executive director of About Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), a charity aimed at fostering respect and compassion for animals, agreed that animals should not be given away as freebies.

He said: ‘People need to think of the commitment that comes with owning a pet. The whole family must be willing to commit to taking care of the pet.’

Today 20090313: Small, puny, but still a pet

Follow-up to Pet Station’s Free Hamster Giveaway… I still got burning questions. BTW the  hamster featured in the article is a Golden Hamster.

‘Small, puny, but still a pet’


‘Small, puny, but still a pet’

Public outcry over hamster promotion leads to its halt

Friday • March 13, 2009

Loh Chee Kong

SPEND $35 at a pet shop and you can take a hamster home for free. If you hold a PAssion Card — a membership card for grassroots leaders — you only need to spend $25.

This joint promotion between Pets’ Station and the People’s Association (PA) sparked a public outcry yesterday after a flyer was sent out by email to PAssion Card holders.

And in a truimph of civic action, the promotion — due to take place next week at Tiong Bahru Plaza where Pets’ Station has an outlet — was stopped even before it could begin. This was after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) acted on the complaints.

Readers who wrote to Today were particularly disappointed that a Government agency had endorsed the promotion, including Mr William Fong who was “appalled” when he learnt of it through an online forum. He said: “Pets should never be meant as gifts or presents because having a pet is a lifetime responsibility and commitment.”

Another reader, Dr Tan Chek Wee said he was “deeply shocked and saddened”. Online forum posts described the promotion as“ridiculous”. Said one: “A hamster is very small and puny but it’s still a pet, and should be treated as one … not like a free gift.”

SPCA executive officer Deirdre Moss told Today the society had received more than 20 email voicing strong objections to the promotion. Besides contacting the AVA, which was “already onto it”, SPCA wrote to the PA to “strongly object to such a practice” and stressed that “pets are living things which shouldn’t be exploited as free gifts for promotional purposes”, said Ms Moss.

Mr Madhavan Kannan, who heads AVA’s centre for animal welfare and control, said the authority had contacted Pets’ Station and “instructed them not to proceed with the promotion”. The pet shop complied.

Reiterating that the AVA bans the sale or gift of animals at exhibitions, Mr Madhavan said this is to prevent impulse buying and subsequent abandonment of pets.

When contacted, Pets’ Station declined to comment as its spokesperson was “unavailable”. On its part, the PA apologised for its “oversight”. A PA spokesperson told Today: “When alerted on the concerns raised on Thursday morning, we immediately withdrew thePAssion Card from this promotion, before it could take effect. (We) share the views that pets like hamsters should be cared for by people who are genuinely interested in them.”

Still, Ms Moss gave full marks to the civic action which “resulted in almost instant action by the authorities”. She said: “I was quite stunned and amazed that so many people are speaking up for animals. We are very encouraged that there was so much awareness over an issue like this.”

Chinese paper also feature the Pets’ Station hamster giveaway fiasco

Follow-up to Pet Station’s Free Hamster Giveaway… I still got burning questions. On the singaporecommunitycats blog. (Click on the picture to see a larger image).

Free hamsters with every $25 receipt

See this posting in TODAY

This is a BLOODY shame and it is a government agency (PA) endorsed event

Follow-up to Pet Station’s Free Hamster Giveaway… I still got burning questions. The response from the PA was interesting, prompt and positive, brownie-point worthy really, though you got to wonder what made them think it was ok originally.

This is a BLOODY shame and it is a government agency (PA) endorsed event

Free hamsters with every $25 receipt ?????

This is a government agency (PA) endorsed event, really sad.

Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 6:41 PM
Subject: RE: Stop sponsoring a shop that gives out hamsters as free gifts!

Dear ****,

We refer to your email dated 12th Mar with regards to Pets’ Station @ Tiong Bahru Atrium Sales.

We agree with your valuable feedback and have immediately contacted the pet shop who is a PAssion Card merchant to withdraw the promotion before it takes effect. We have also noted that AVA has instructed the pet shop not to proceed with the promotion.

We should have been more sensitive with such a promotion request by the pet shop for our PAssion Card members. We share the view that pets like hamsters should be cared for by people who are genuinely interested in them.

We have since revised the promotion as follows:

Free water bottle with minimum spending of $25 in a single receipt

Our sincere apologies.


PAssion Card

This is the gif  on the passion card promotion page now:


Pet Station’s Free Hamster Giveaway… I still got burning questions

This storm has obviously blown over… but I’d like to keep track of such happenings. While things are now quiet, there are still questions that don’t seem to have been addressed:

1. What is Pet’s Station going to do about the designated “Free-Gift” hamsters?

Note these requirement on the AVA’s own PET SHOP LICENCE CONDITIONS (2) DISPLAY AND SALE OF SMALL MAMMALS* (pdf format):


12. Each animal in the shop must be accounted for. The source of an animal, its date of arrival in the shop (and Singapore), the medical history and date of purchase / release to the buyer should be available.

I can only hope that the grading of Pets’ Station will be revised.

2. Will the AVA take into consideration this near-violation of of the licence agreement when considering Pets’ Station annual licence renewal request?


14. The shop should be able to show that customers have been duly provided with relevant information relating to their purchase of the animal. For example, the shop could implement a checklist or sales agreement initialled by the customer to acknowledge that relevant information has been provided. Information provided to customers should include the following:

(a) Details of the animal – the breed and whether it comes with a pedigree certificate; its age & sex;

(b) Advice on care of the animal;

(c) Conditions for refund / replacement, if any.

Seriously, for a free-gift, will the staff even bother with any parts of this regulatory requirement?

And look, with the original proposal to give the hamsters away at a roadshow, wasn’t this a SECOND regulatory requirement that would have been violated? Do the AVA, and in fact the petshops it grants pet-selling licence to, even know the regulatory requirements that actually govern the pet-selling licence?


15. All animals must be kept in their designated display areas approved by AVA. Any change of location of the animal display area must be approved by AVA.

Actually, the galling thing is the cost of the licence:


Pet shop licence fee: S$126 / annum

Application fee*: S$94.50

*The application fee is a one-time, non-refundable fee that is payable for all pet shop applications and for updates to pet shop licences requested by the licensee.

3. How many such incidences have happened? This particular incident was in the limelight because it was a large scale promotion involving a government related body. What about small-scale animal-giveaway promotions that take place within a petshop’s premises? Check out the “Pet shop best practices” on the AVA site. I particularly like this:

Customer Education & Service

25. The shop has a system, e.g. a checklist, to screen customers to determine whether they will make responsible owners.

26. The shop does not sell animals to children not accompanied by adults.

27. The shop provides good customer and after sales service.

30. The shop practises good business ethics and honours all agreements.

I just want to say rats smell more fragrant.

Here’s the chronology:

This is the first post

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Free Hamster?

I was sent this by Chinky – and I have to say I was shocked. Here is the coupon. Thanks Chinky for bringing this to my attention so I can post it here. This is terrible – when you buy accessories, you get a free hamster? Apparently you normally get a free hamster for $35, but now you can get one for only $25 if you are a Passion Card member at their Tiong Bahru Atrium sale later this month.Please write in to Pets’ Station at this email address and tell them to stop giving out free hamsters. You can also write to them at their feedback form.

Please also do write to Peoples’ Association to tell them that they should not be supporting this under their Passion Card. Passion Card’s contact details are here.

Update : Pet Station just wrote back to say that they are canceling the promotion. The PA also wrote back to say the promotion is off. Thanks to everyone who did write in!

Click on the post title to read the comments… I cannot understand the Anonymous’ stand that it is ok to get a free hamster. Among the tec minions’ pre-kitty managerie, we had a large number of hamster. As kids we had no idea just how prolific they are. Our parents were also taken by surprise. After a few stork visits which exhausted our list of potential (and still willing hamster adopters) we hit on the bright idea of separating the males from the females. This stopped the storks, but it still didn’t stop our hamsters from developing reproductive system problems, most commonly womb cancer after they get past their first year. It is small comfort that our hamsters tend to live to about 2 years of age, quite advanced for the little furries.

And in addition, we find abandoned hamsters from time to time. Once was a large cage by the roadside – red ants were already crawling all over and agitating the six hamsters trapped inside. The most recent time was when btmao was out feeding in Area2. In a landscape trough outside one of the blocks, she saw something wriggly. While the then resident community cat ate just a metre away, she checked out the trough and saw baby hamsters scuttling about. I brought a pail and we managed to find 6, while trying to stave off the kitty’s advances. After an hour, we went back again to search the trough, worried we might have missed some.

The good news is we managed to find homes for all these foundlings (if only it was as easy to find kitties homes). But we do not care for the experience as it’s even tougher to find hamster fosters then kitty ones and we can’t take them ourselves due to the accident potential quotient in kitty central.

Where did all these foundlings come from? Irresponsible pet owners of course. But the burning question is, how does getting a free hamster for spending $35 at a petshop foster responsibility toward the free-gifted hamster?

MYPAPER 20090318: Wanted: Good homes for abandoned bunnies

One for the bunnies. Never thought mypaper would actually do an animal-centric feature. Please visit the House Rabbit Society of Singapore (HRSS) here.

A LITTLE BUNSHINE: House Rabbit Society of Singapore vice-president Jacelyn Heng with Nozie, which
she adopted. It has a tilted head, which is either because of abuse or an ear infection. (PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN)

MARCH 18, 2009

Wanted: Good homes for abandoned bunnies


AS MANY as four rabbits are abandoned or given up for adoption by their owners every day.

The House Rabbit Society of Singapore (HRSS) has seen a twofold increase in the numbers of such pets since last year.

By the time they are found, some are covered with abscesses, malnourished and with maggots crawling over their skin.

More than 1,000 rabbits are abandoned or given up by their owners every year, the society told
my paper in a recent interview.

HRSS vice-president Jacelyn Heng said that, contrary to public perception, rabbits are not low-maintenance pets.

“It takes about $70 a month to upkeep them and they can live for 10 years. After being retrenched, some people can’t afford to keep a pet and take the easy way out (by abandoning
them),” she said.

To cope with the numbers, the society is appealing to animal lovers to step forward to take care of the abandoned pets.

Those interested can e-mail HRSS at These foster owners must be able to commit at least six months to provide time, care and shelter in a cage-free environment, said Ms Heng.

The volunteer-run society does not have a permanent shelter for rabbits. It currently has 65 rabbits fostered out at about 10 foster homes and spends around $1,000 a month putting up 19 rabbits at a pet boarding home.

Many abandoned rabbits are left in their cages or in fields, where they are vulnerable to attacks
by stray dogs and cats.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals receives around 700 animals each month – more than one per hour every day, said executive officer Deirdre Moss.

Of that number, only 20 per cent have a chance of finding homes, she said.

Ms Heng said: “People think that by releasing them they’re setting them free, but they’re actually killing them. If you can’t take care of them any longer, it’s best to find them another

THEIR docile behaviour makes it easy to mistake rabbits for easy pets to keep.
Here’s a look at some common misconceptions:

Rabbits make low-maintenance pets for children – Rabbits can have a lifespan of 10 years and are not suitable for children as they generally do not like to be cuddled.

Rabbits thrive on pellets and vegetables – The bulk of a rabbit’s diet should consist of hay, not commercially-bought pellets or carrots.

Rabbits should be kept in cages – Rabbits kept in cages, especially those with wire floors, can develop health problems, such as inflamed feet. Keep them in a playpen or allow them to roam freely once they are toilet-trained.