Animal welfare groups appeal to Govt to amend definition of 'animals' in Road Traffic Act

Cats at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) compound at Mount Vernon Road. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM 
Cats at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) compound at Mount Vernon Road. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM 

SINGAPORE - Some animal welfare groups have issued a joint appeal against the Government's decision not to amend the definition of animals under the Road Traffic Act.

In a letter issued on Sunday, groups including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to reconsider its decision.

Under the Road Traffic Act (RTA), enacted on Jan 1, 1963, section 84(6), it is stated that an "animal" is defined as "any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog".

The groups said in the letter that such a classification refers mainly to farm animals "which is not at all relevant in today's context", since with the exception of the dog, the animals mentioned are not owned by the general populace.

"We see the need to widen the scope of an 'animal', in particular, to include cats, which are popularly kept as pets today, and wildlife.

"While the current law is derived from societies where farm animals are protected, the policy in general arises from a recognition that animals matter to humans or certainly to a significant part of our society," the groups wrote.

The groups urged the ministry to consider amending the definition of "animals" under RTA to make it consistent with the definition of an "animal" in the Animals and Birds Act (ABA) section 2, so that it includes other animals such as cats, and wild animals which are potential victims of road accidents.

The groups added that amending the Act will "make it more relevant in a modernised context, especially in relation to the types of animals that have been typically involved in road accidents today".

The letter carried the signatures of 10 other animal welfare groups.

It was reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided not to change the Road Traffic Act, which among other things, requires motorists to stop and help certain animals if they knock them down.