Animal-related businesses to get grace period to comply with proposed laws on training

SINGAPORE - Animal-related businesses would be given time to ensure that their staff meet the new training requirements under proposed laws for better animal welfare.

A grace period of one to two years would allow animal handlers at these businesses, such as pet grooming services, pet hotels and horseriding schools, to meet the requirements.

The leeway would give these businesses more time to prepare themselves, said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, at a media briefing yesterday to provide more details about the Bill. Mr Yeo and fellow MPs, Mr Alex Yam, Mr Gan Thiam Poh, Mr Edwin Tong and Mr Vikram Nair had tabled the Private Member's Bill in Parliament earlier this month.

Among the proposed amendments to the Animals and Birds Act is a requirement for staff working with animals in relevant businesses to be trained in animal care and handling. The precise training requirements will be published at a later date, said Mr Yeo.

He added that a panel formed by the Government last year to strengthen collaboration for animal welfare will work with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to standardise the training and raise the number of training providers.

The Bill also requires those in charge of animals, including pet owners, animal shelters and animal fosterers, to ensure reasonable care for them. Those who neglect their animals will, for the first time, face a fine of up to $20,000 and/or a two-year jail term.

Others will face tougher penalties. Animal abusers will face fines of up to $30,000 and/or a three-year jail term, while animal-related businesses that contravene the Act face fines of up to $100,000 and/or a three-year jail term.

Under the Bill, enforcement officers would be able to refer to any photographic, audio or video evidence to investigate animal cruelty offences. Previously, they had to have witnessed the offence.

The Bill will be debated in Parliament on Monday.