Singapore should also limit pet sales to rescue animals

From this year, pet shops in California will be allowed to sell only dogs, cats, and rabbits that have been rescued by animal welfare groups or the animal control authorities.

As an animal welfare group, Bunny Wonderland hopes that the Singapore Government will introduce similar measures.

Such a move will reduce the overall supply of domesticated animals, which will in turn reduce the number of them which are neglected and need assistance from the overworked animal welfare groups.

This will also help animal welfare groups place rescued animals into good homes much faster as we can tap the extensive network of pet shops to reach a much larger audience than we currently have.

This will take more unwanted animals off the streets and free up time for animal control officers to focus on higher-value areas of their work, such as investigating abuse cases instead of catching strays.

Keeping captured strays in the pound - and even euthanising them - also incurs costs, so money will be saved by having fewer of them around.

Despite the ethical and pragmatic advantages of the move, some may resist the idea as they may think that rescued animals are damaged goods and come with plenty of health problems.

Ironically, however, many of these problems arise from malpractice by breeders.

For example, more than half of all rabbits here have latent encephalitozoon cuniculi fungal spores in their bodies due to unsanitary conditions at pet farms.

The battery-like housing arrangements at such farms also allow such infections to spread very easily.

Furthermore, baby animals are often weaned prematurely and this can cause various ailments, such as poor immunity, that may show up only later in life.

Potential adopters who approach animal welfare groups like Bunny Wonderland have the benefit of knowing the exact medical issues they are taking responsibility for because we send our rescued animals for screening and communicate the results openly to the public.

On the other hand, buying a brand-new pet from a breeder could open a Pandora's box, as there is no way of knowing what problems the animal has until it is too late.

Jonathan Tiong Soon Yi

Volunteer (Outreach)

Bunny Wonderland Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore should also limit pet sales to rescue animals'. Print Edition | Subscribe