Opportune time to raise animal welfare standards

I applaud the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) for taking the bold step to create a new space for pet farms and animal shelters ("Govt to build new homes for strays and pet farm animals"; Nov 22).

Even more encouraging is the fact that the AVA will manage the new facilities.

AVA said rentals are subject to factors such as construction and maintenance costs of operating the facilities. I hope it will be fair and decent on rental charges for the animal shelters, and not base rentals on perceived and expected future revenue streams.

Larger and more well-known animal welfare groups have the financial muscle and a large support base. However, small, independent shelters are run by less-than-wealthy individuals; they do not have a public relations machinery, and thus, no means to speak up for themselves.

So, while the AVA calls for consultations with animal welfare groups, I hope it does not ignore the independent shelters. These shelters should be encouraged to give their input on space requirements. They, above all, need more help so that they can continue to care for their charges' health and well-being, and still provide a roof over the animals' heads.

And, to be fair to its tenants, AVA should place a moratorium on rent increases for a minimum number of years, so that the shelters will not be subjected to rent increases arbitrarily.

This is a good time to uphold the highest standards of animal welfare for breeders and shelters; ensure equitable ratios for the number of animals housed per kennel or unit; and, specific to commercial breeders and pet farms, ensure adequate, spacious breeding facilities and proper quarantine and veterinary care.

Taken together with the mandatory licences for every dog sold ("Shops must get dogs licensed before sale"; Nov 8), and the review and revisions of the Code of Animal Welfare, much good will come out of this.

Corinne Fong Yuet Ming (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Opportune time to raise animal welfare standards'. Subscribe