Consider life ban on pet ownership in cases of extreme cruelty

The report on a man's abuse of two dogs was a shocking and distressing read (Man's cruelty led to deaths of 2 dogs; Oct 20).

What the offender did was horrific, causing unimaginable suffering to the animals. Thankfully, he was identified and brought to justice.

In addition to his jail sentence, the offender was prohibited from keeping a pet for 12 months, the maximum ban under the law. The prohibition order was included during the most recent amendments to the Animals and Birds Act, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) applauds the authorities for adding this important element to animal cruelty sentencing.

This case, however, brings to light that a 12-month ban on pet ownership is insufficient for particularly heinous acts.

The offender had abandoned his pet poodle after dragging it down multiple flights of stairs, causing traumatic injuries. It was also reported that he had neglected to seek treatment for another male toy poodle under his charge, also leading to its death.

In cases of extreme and aggravated acts of cruelty, the law should allow for a life ban on pet ownership, or, in the absence of such a law, discretion on the court's part to decide on a longer ban.

In the absence of 24-hour monitoring, which is at any rate impractical, it would be potentially hazardous for any future pet to be put under the charge of such a person, who has more than demonstrated his propensity for violence and a total lack of empathy.

Singapore's animal protection laws have been updated and improved in recent years.

We urge the authorities to further strengthen them in this instance, to prevent further extreme acts against vulnerable and defenceless animals in our society.

Jaipal Singh Gill (Dr)

Executive Director

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2017, with the headline 'Consider life ban on pet ownership in cases of extreme cruelty'. Print Edition | Subscribe