Shops must get dogs licensed before sale

A visitor at a pet shop. The onus currently is on owners to license their dogs, which many fail to do, say those in the animal welfare community.
A visitor at a pet shop. The onus currently is on owners to license their dogs, which many fail to do, say those in the animal welfare community.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Move from next year improves traceability and makes pet-dumping harder, says AVA

From early next year, that doggy in the window will come with more than a price tag.

Businesses selling dogs will have to license them before transferring ownership to the customer when he buys an animal.

The move to make dog licensing mandatory for such businesses, announced yesterday by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), will make it harder for people to abandon their pets.

The onus currently is on owners to license their dogs, which many fail to do, say those in the animal welfare community.

Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng, who is an animal welfare champion, pointed out: "The issue with this is that someone can buy a dog and not license it. So if the dog is later abandoned, there is no traceability and at times this makes it difficult for the authorities to enforce pet abandonment laws."

AVA figures there were about 59,000 licensed dogs in 2011. This dropped to about 57,000 in 2012, before fluctuating between 60,000 and 62,000 from 2013 to last year. As of end-June this year, there were 63,000 licensed dogs.

There are no figures on abandoned dogs, but the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescued more than 3,000 stray, lost and abandoned animals in 2014. And in September, Low Chong Kiat, the 43-year-old owner of a pet grooming school, was jailed for six weeks for abandoning 18 dogs at locations across the island in March.

Mr Derrick Tan, president of animal welfare group Voices For Animals, which rescues abandoned pet dogs, estimates that only about 50 per cent of all pet dogs in Singapore are licensed. He welcomed the revisions, saying it would reduce the number of people who buy pets on impulse and then dump them.

AVA said the revisions would also ensure that dogs can be traced during a disease outbreak such as rabies, and also help AVA reunite lost dogs with their owners.

"These revisions take into consideration feedback from the pet businesses," said AVA chief executive Tan Poh Hong.

The revised licensing scheme is the latest measure recenty rolled out by AVA to boost animal welfare.

The Sunday Times reported that AVA has reorganised its investigation and enforcement team into two units - with one investigating feedback on alleged animal cruelty and failure of duty of care, and the other inspecting pet establishment licensees to ensure compliance with licensing requirements.

AVA has also moved to minimise impulse buying of pets by setting a minimum age - a buyer must be at least 16 years old - and requiring pre-sale screening at pet shops.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Shops must get dogs licensed before sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe