Improving Animal Welfare Legislation in Singapore

The Cat Welfare Society is part of the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee for Animal Welfare (MSCC), comprising of representatives from Members of Parliament, the community, animal welfare groups, the pet industry, the veterinary profession and the AVA. 

The MSCC was formed in October 2013 to serve as a platform for stakeholders to share their views and build up mutual understanding on animal welfare, and to enhance collaborative efforts in promoting animal welfare in Singapore. 

We are glad to have seen the progress that has been made to strengthen our animal welfare laws in Singapore. On 6 Nov 2016, the AVA also announced its reorganization of its investigation and enforcement team into 2 units to enable its officers to respond more promptly to animal welfare cases.

There is still much to be done to improve enforcement of the animal welfare laws. We continue to ask for better communication between AVA and animal welfare groups on findings and outcomes to better harness the many opportunities for education and engagement to promote good practices and advance animal welfare in our society. 

On 7 Nov 2016, AVA also announced that they will be amending the Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing and Control) Rules in early 2017. Under the revised licensing regime, all dogs intended for sale by pet businesses must be licensed before they are sold. When a dog is sold, pet businesses will be required to transfer the ownership of the dog to the new owner via AVA's online portal for pet licensing. We seek that such rules will cover intended for sale too.

 

The Animals and Birds (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament in 5 November 2014

The previous legislation prohibits a wide range of cruel conduct to animals, from beating, kicking, ill-treatment to abandonment. Under the new law, pet owners, animal-related businesses, animal shelters, people who foster animals and those who care for animals on behalf of family or friends.these groups must not only avoid such acts, but they must also provide a positive duty of care. This means they must take steps to ensure that efforts are taken to recover a missing animal and ensure that an animal is cared for in accordance with Codes of Animal Welfare.

It means that animals should be:

- Provided with adequate and suitable food and water.
- Given adequate shelter.
- Not confined or physically handled to cause unreasonable or unnecessary pain and suffering.
- Protected from and receive rapid diagnosis of any significant injury or disease.

The new law will toughen the penalties against those convicted of animal cruelty. Previously, animal abusers faced fines of up to $10,000 and/or a one-year jail term. Now, this will go up to a maximum fine of $30,000 and/or a three-year jail term.

Animal-related businesses that contravene the new law will face fines of up to $100,000 and/or a three-year jail term. This is up from the maximum $10,000 fine and/or a one-year jail term. Businesses that do not provide training for staff can be fined up to $5,000, face a maximum jail term of six months, or both. They can also be banned from doing business for up to a year.

 

AVA issued the Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Industry) on 11 Aug 2016

It comprises:

  • Minimum Standards on animal housing, management and care, which pet businesses are expected to comply with; and
  • Best Practices on animal housing, management and care, which pet businesses are encouraged to adopt to further raise the standard of animal welfare in Singapore.

The Code takes effect from 1 Oct 2016, with a grace period of six months, from 1 Oct 2016 to 31 Mar 2017. During the grace period, AVA will not use non-compliance with the minimum standards in the Code as supporting evidence to prosecute for animal welfare offences. Notwithstanding this, AVA will continue to take enforcement action when there is direct evidence of animal welfare and cruelty contraventions.

Read the full Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Industry).
Infographic: English | Mandarin | Malay  | Tamil

The Code is adapted from the draft that was formulated and submitted by the MSCC.

 

AVA issued the Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Owners) on 15 Jun 2017

It specifies the minimum standards on animal housing, management and care which pet owners are expected to comply with. The Handbook is available in 4 languages.