SINGAPORE - Commercial pet breeders will soon have to meet stricter rules, while those who board pets will be licensed, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling on Wednesday (March 4).
The changes stem from public feedback that said standards in these areas must be raised.
"There was general consensus that more needs to be done... to safeguard the health and welfare of the animals," she told Parliament during the debate on her ministry's budget.
The first move the National Parks Board (NParks) will take is to strengthen licensing conditions for existing commercial breeding facilities on farmland.
These changes will focus on areas such as housing and management, healthcare and traceability of the animals.
It will also step up enforcement efforts against those who operate such commercial facilities without a licence, outside of farmland.
The licensing of commercial pet boarding facilities will hinge on the scale of their operations. This will depend on such factors as the number of animals handled and the frequency of transactions.
Those who board pets for friends and family, or do it infrequently, will not need a licence, Ms Sun said, adding that more details will be given later this year.
At present, pet breeders and boarders who operate outside of farmland do not need a licence.
But a furore erupted when a dog boarded at Platinium Dogs Club went missing last year. Later, it was found to have died.
Another change centres on licence for dogs.
Owners of sterilised dogs will be able to pay a one-time fee of $35 for a licence lasting their pets' lifetime. It will be implemented in the fourth quarter of this year.
Currently, the licence is up to three years, with owners of unsterilised dogs paying more.
Said Ms Sun: "We hope this will encourage more owners to sterilise and license their pet dogs."
She added: "In the event a pet is diagnosed with an infectious disease, especially one which can be transmitted to humans like rabies, it is important to be able to trace its whereabouts and health status.
"Pet licensing is one of the measures that enables NParks to do so quickly."
Owners of sterilised dogs with a three-year licence will automatically have it converted to the lifetime option.
NParks, however, will continue to offer one- and two-year licences for dog owners.
Ms Sun also said the Government is looking at raising standards in the veterinary industry, and will start discussing it with stakeholders next month.
"Our veterinarians play an important role in... ensuring animal health. They also play a critical role in safeguarding public health, as they can help detect the outbreak of diseases that may be transmitted to humans."
On cat ownership in Housing Board flats, she said: "We are continuing to have conversations around how to best strike a balance between residents who are pet lovers and those who are not."
The HDB, she added, will work with NParks to take a "holistic and balanced approach" in reviewing and updating pet ownership policies.