Take more active approach in dealing with animal abusers

Singapore's animal protection laws could indeed be strengthened further in more severe cases of animal abuse (Consider life ban on pet ownership in cases of extreme cruelty; Nov 13).

While a ban of up to 12 months could prevent further abuse, one could definitely argue that it is insufficient and a longer or lifetime ban should be permitted.

However, such bans do not prevent the offender from committing further abuse after the ban is lifted or towards animals that are not under his care.

Certainly, one could be arrested and have a more severe punishment for repeat offences, but this would be more of a remedial method rather than a preventive one.

Additionally, a lifelong ban could perhaps be ignoring the potential for reform should the offender reflect and sincerely regret his actions. It may also result in the offender turning to other ways to inflict violence.

Perhaps one possible consideration instead of a change in the duration of the ban would be for the Government to work with animal rights and welfare organisations on mandatory educative and rehabilitative programmes. These programmes could be conducted during the period of the ban imposed on an offender.

Also, in cases where it is assessed that there are underlying mental health concerns involved in the case, counselling services could be considered.

After the offender has completed the programme, the various stakeholders could discuss and assess if the ban should be lifted, or if further actions could be implemented so as to reduce the likelihood of abuse.

This suggestion, however, would certainly require a significant amount of resources to be invested, as much attention will have to be provided for these offenders.

While it is imperative that we look out for the welfare and safety of the animals under our care, we should consider taking a more active approach in dealing with the underlying issues that led the offender to commit the abuse.

Daniel Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Take more active approach in dealing with animal abusers'. Print Edition | Subscribe