AVA's new code of animal welfare: 5 things pet owners should know

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore has launched a code of animal welfare for pet owners to help them understand how to provide a good and comfortable life for their pets.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore has launched a code of animal welfare for pet owners to help them understand how to provide a good and comfortable life for their pets.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Pet owners take note - the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has launched a code of animal welfare for pet owners on Thursday (June 15), the first of its kind in Singapore.

If you own a pet, you are expected to comply with the code. Al though it is not an offence if you fail to meet a minimum standard in the code, such failures can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement actions for animal welfare cases.

Here are five things you should take note of if you currently own or are intending to own a pet:

1. BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR PET


Ensure the safety and well-being of your pets before leaving them at any place. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

You should not leave your pet at any place, whether temporarily or permanently, without first making reasonable arrangements for its care.

If your pet is lost, you should make a missing pet report with the Police or AVA, and make an effort to find it such as putting up "missing pet" advertisements, or appealing to neighbours and animal welfare groups for help.

You should also secure your doors and gates to prevent your pet from escaping.

2. GIVE THEM A GOOD LIVING SPACE


Small pets, such as chinchillas, also require adequately large and defined areas for resting, feeding, exercising and exploring. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

If you own a cat or dog, it should have a clearly defined area to rest, eat, exercise and explore. It also needs access to a separate area which it can use as a toilet. Cats kept in cages should be let out for supervised exercise daily.

Smaller furry friends such as rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters and chinchillas should be given clean and dry bedding. They also need defined areas for rest, feeding, exercise and exploration.

If you keep birds in cages, the cages should be large enough so the bird's tail and outspread wings do not touch the sides of the cage. The cages should be made of materials that are safe and non-toxic as some birds like parrots tend to chew the cage wiring. A cloth should also be draped over the cage in the evening to allow the bird to rest and feel secure.

3. USE THE CORRECT TETHER


Tighten your tether to a secure object so that your pet will not be at risk of any injuries. PHOTO: SPCA

If your pet is tethered (fastened to a chain, leash, lead, halter or rope to restrict its range of movement), the tether should be fastened to a secure object that would not move, fall or hurt your pet.

For birds, the tether should be long enough to allow it to move about comfortably. For dogs, the tether should be at least twice the length of the dog (nose to base of tail), and the anchor point should be low enough so that the dog can lie down comfortably.

Choke chains should not be used as tethers. They could tighten around the neck of your dog and result in strangulation, and as such should only be used under supervision.

4. NOT TOO HOT


Do not subject your pets to heat exhaustion. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Cold climate dog breeds should be provided with adequate shade, fan ventilation or airconditioning to keep cool. You should not subject them to physical exertion under the heat. Remember to groom them regularly to prevent the accumulation of dead hair.

5. WATCH THAT BODY

If you are a dog owner, the code also provides a body condition scoring system for your pet. There are five different body conditions recognised by the code: Emaciated, thin, ideal, overweight, and obese.


GRAPHIC AVA

More guidelines can be found in the code itself, which is available on AVA's website at http://www.ava.gov.sg/codepetowners