The case in the news recently about a dispute of ownership over a cat was closely watched over by the Cat Welfare Society because of the wider implications for rescuers who often pick up cats that are abandoned or lost from the streets for treatment, sterilisation and/or rehoming. Based on the circumstances, condition or breed of the cats, rescuers make a variety of decisions about what actions to take for the welfare of the cats. It would have implications to them if anyone could easily make claims of ownership on a cat.
We illustrate with a case recently in an HDB estate where persistent complaints by residents were made about 4 cats in a multi-storey carpark. These cats were not savvy and would even lie in the middle of the carpark and would not move even when honked. If rescuers were not able to resolve the issue, the cats would be removed by the Town Council. The cats had been in the MSCP for more than 2 weeks, according to residents and complainants.
When rescuers went down to the scene, they already knew they had to act immediately for the welfare of the cats. What they found were 4 beautiful pedigree cats, one of which is a grey marble cat with a big flat face and long tail. The rest were also of pedigree strain. If someone who later saw the lost or adoption notice came forward to make a claim, a prudent rescuer would ask for proof of ownership. If a breeder came to claim ownership, it would be reasonable to expect that all their papers are in order. In the case of cats that look like your typical domestic short hair, rescuers apply the same prudence. We commend their vigilence and dedication to the welfare of their rescued cats.
How ownership may be proven
AVA, SPCA and CWS, from our statements on the case in question, concur that microchip registration is an important means of proving ownership. Even though there is currently no central body of registration, microchipping is a common practice and can be done on a voluntary basis with vet clinics or with the commercial service Pet-Call. AVA also mentioned that categorical proof of ownership included
1) purchase receipts
2) photogaphs showing pet with owner
3) photographs detailing unique distinguishing features It was announced in the public forum presided over by Minister Shanmugam that MND and AVA are looking into implementing a central registry of pets and licensing of breeding animals at source.
This shows the direction that we are moving towards as a nation – more accountability and responsibility for our pet and breeding animals. We eagerly anticipate this development. In the mean time, it would be up to the individual parties to come to a conclusion about ownership custody. If inconclusive or disputed, the matter would need to be decided through mediation or in court. This does put enormous stress on the parties involved. With regards to the current case at hand, we wish both parties an amicable resolution. Ultimately, we all just want what is best for the cat.
Pet cat ownership
There is currently no regulation on the licensing and registration of pet cat ownership. But that doesn’t mean that people who keep pet cats have no ownership responsibilities. If the cat is kept in your home, it would be indisputable that you are then responsible for the cat as an owner.
If there is sufficient evidence, you can still be charged for pet neglect and pet abandonment as in a case in 2010. Ambiguity comes in if the cat is a wandering cat. The owner would then need substantive proof like microchip or indisputable photographic evidence to proof ownership if the pet cat becomes lost or someone else adopted it.
But this is also a double-edged sword as it would then be easy for some owners to deny ownership when they have decided to give up the cat or they have received feedback that their wandering pet cat is causing a nuisance. In such a case, it would be up to investigators to proof ownership with evidence that the cats do stay for a large amount of time in the home and the cat depends on the owner for its care and sustenance.
The MND and AVA are reviewing regulations on pet cat ownership and we are likely to soon see compulsory registration of pet cat. This will resolve much of the ambiguity that exists currently.
Omy | Apr 6, 2012
Summary of translation: 1) A cat isn’t like a lost wallet where you can say that the person who picked it up is being dishonest. In this case, the cat is being taken care of by the person who found it and is no longer on the streets. Furthermore, the person also found homes for the kittens. Does this constitute to being dishonest? 2) At the end of the day, the claimant is a breeder and not a pet owner. But the person who’d found the cat disagrees on breeding and feels they are all for the money and without any compassion. Animal welfare agencies seem to agree with her. Is this true? 3) The whole quarrel is similar to a tussle for child custody. But isn’t it more important that whoever is best able to care for the cat gets custody?
这世界还真的无奇不有。最近听说友人要从邻居手中夺回自己曾饲养的猫咪而可能必须采取法律行动，不禁也要“家婆”一下。 话说友人是以上猫咪种类，Munchkin的饲养员(breeder)，依据国际标准饲养纯种的munchkin猫。2个月前，因为碰上一些问题，而不得不将家中的所有猫咪另作整顿，安排到另外一个住处。途中，不幸丢失了一只已经怀孕了的munchkin母猫，一直无法寻获。就在1、2天前，他在一位女邻居的住所花园内赫然发现了猫咪的踪影，并有足够证据证明那正是他丢失了的母猫，而它身旁的也是母猫产下的小猫。他因此向女邻居要回母猫和所有小猫咪。 或许这不是一般的野猫品种而是纯种munchkin，或许对于友人的说辞感到怀疑，又或者纯粹已经对猫咪们培养出了感情，女邻居不肯交还，并要求友人通过司法途径来争回这些猫咪的“抚养权”。同时，具友人所称，女邻居来头不小，而且已经向警方备案指友人企图骚扰… 当友人把这一段不幸而又令人难过的经历放上Facebook求助的时候，自然而然也有好多网上朋友出来维护、支持友人，说不问自取便是偸，而且当人家要求猫归原主的时候，该女士仍振振有词，非常嚣张、蛮不讲理。 我自己没有留言，只是在思考好些零碎的疑问。 – 猫咪是不是像钱包，捡到了不换还动用里头的钱就是不诚实。但现在猫咪是受到妥善的照顾啦，至少没有流浪街头，生小猫的时候也许也是女邻居负责打点，为善多过为恶，还算不算不诚实呢？而且如果该名女士认定友人无法好好照顾猫咪而拒绝归还，她的胜算大不大？ – 很遗憾的，虽然友人对猫咪的照顾无微不至，也非常惦记着猫咪，他毕竟也是个breeder，而非养猫为陪伴的宠物。女邻居确切表明不赞同breeding 因为breeders都是一些向钱看、没人性的商人，而且声称动物福利组织都会赞同她的看法。这真的如此吗？ – 2个月前因“某些困难”而需为猫咪令作安排，单单是这个事情是不是就相当对友人不利？因为跟争孩子抚养权一样，谁较能提供稳定的照顾才是关键吧？ 想来想去想不通，所以最终没有留言，毕竟已经有那么多人为他出谋献策，我弄不清楚情况，还是不要妄自发言，以免叫人难过。只能说，希望问题能得到妥善的解决，人猫人共处愉快吧。
The New Paper | Apr 5, 2012
Fur flies in cat fight