Forum: Stricter checks needed to ensure pets are treated well

Captain Anne Claudine Tan, Jimbob, Lieutenant Jonathan Ong, Mr Jonathan Leow's girlfriend Koh Tian Ning, Gilly, Mr Jonathan Leow, two dog owners from the SPF and SCDF, who had adopted dogs under the pilot programme last year. Photo taken on Aug 16, 2
Captain Anne Claudine Tan, Jimbob, Lieutenant Jonathan Ong, Mr Jonathan Leow's girlfriend Koh Tian Ning, Gilly, Mr Jonathan Leow, two dog owners from the SPF and SCDF, who had adopted dogs under the pilot programme last year. Photo taken on Aug 16, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore is not exactly a poster child for best practices in wildlife conservation or animal welfare. The needs of humans are given top priority here.

However, considering we allow the import, sale and adoption of pets, there is a need to ensure these pets are treated properly.

Legally, Singapore does have adequate regulation in place. What is required is much better citizen involvement in reporting cases of lack of animal care or cruelty, and resulting enforcement.

Technology can play a bigger part here. For example, I have heard of a number of cases of pet abandonment by foreigners when they leave Singapore. This could easily be prevented by linking the pet's microchip to the owner's employment pass, and as part of exit clearance, making it mandatory to provide proof that the pet had been exported or given up for adoption.

Similarly, regulation could require that every pet be taken for at least one visit to a vet every year for mandatory vaccinations and a health check, prior to renewal of the pet licence. This would allow vets to play a key role in assessing whether the pet had been being fed and treated properly. When an owner misses the health check-up and licence renewal, he would need to submit satisfactory evidence of death of the pet or of having given it up for adoption.

Let's extend that same care and attention we give to humans to pets as well.

Rahul Keshav Patwardhan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2019, with the headline 'Stricter checks needed to ensure pets are treated well'. Print Edition | Subscribe