AVA issues code for pet shops

A Pet Lovers Centre staff member with a young customer and her mother. Under AVA's code, pet businesses will, for example, need to ensure animal enclosures are clean, well-ventilated and large enough for the animal to move freely.
A Pet Lovers Centre staff member with a young customer and her mother. Under AVA's code, pet businesses will, for example, need to ensure animal enclosures are clean, well-ventilated and large enough for the animal to move freely.ST FILE PHOTO

Taking effect on Oct 1, it is a guideline on the care and housing of animals

Pet businesses will be expected to comply with a new code that spells out minimum standards on the care, management and housing of animals.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) yesterday announced that the new Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Industry) will take effect on Oct 1 and apply to any business that sells pets or goods and services for pets.

This includes pet shops, groomers and even pet trainers.

Businesses will be given till March 31 next year to comply.

Under the code, pet businesses will, for example, need to ensure animal enclosures are clean, well-ventilated and large enough for the animal to move freely.

Pet breeders will need to ensure that their animals are physically fit, healthy and free of diseases prior to mating.

The code also includes best practices which businesses are encouraged to adopt.

The AVA said that although failing to meet the minimum requirements will not be an offence, it can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement actions for animal welfare cases.

Ms Tan Poh Hong, AVA's CEO, said: "With the code, pet businesses now have an official guideline on their responsibilities to the animals under their charge."

Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, 33, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, called the new code "a good starting point".

"Within a year or so, once the industry has had time to adjust and reach the minimum standards required of them, some of the 'best practices' need to become minimum requirements," he said.

Mr Ng Whye Hoe, 44, managing director and owner of Pet Lovers Centre, said improvements can still be made in practically every area of the pet industry, including hygiene and pet welfare.

"Constant and neverending improvement should be the attitude of the industry," he said.

Separately, the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee for Animal Welfare (MSCC) has given its recommendations for a training curriculum for operators and staff of pet-related businesses.

The curriculum it has recommended includes training on animal welfare law in Singapore, as well as training on animal behaviour and needs.

Mr Chua Ming Kok, 43, owner of SmashsingGrooming Academy, said this would be a good move if it is accepted as, in some cases, poor treatment of animals arise from lack of knowledge.

Poodles, for example, are very fragile, hence extra care must be taken to ensure they do not run around or jump off high surfaces. "It is also important to understand the body language and temperament of the different breeds," he said.

The AVA said it will study and review MSCC's recommendations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'AVA issues code for pet shops'. Print Edition | Subscribe