Details of proposed animal law unveiled

Animal-related businesses will have grace period to meet requirements

Animal-related businesses would be given time to ensure that their staff meet the new training requirements under proposed laws for better animal welfare.

A grace period of one to two years would allow animal handlers at these businesses, such as pet grooming services, pet hotels and horse-riding schools, to meet the requirements.

The leeway would give these businesses more time to prepare themselves, said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, at a media briefing yesterday to provide more details about the Bill. Mr Yeo and his fellow MPs - Mr Alex Yam, Mr Gan Thiam Poh, Mr Edwin Tong and Mr Vikram Nair - had tabled the Private Member's Bill in Parliament earlier this month.

Among the proposed amendments to the Animals and Birds Act is a requirement for staff working with animals in relevant businesses to be trained in animal care and handling. The precise training requirements will be published at a later date, said Mr Yeo.

He added that a panel formed by the Government last year to strengthen collaboration for animal welfare will work with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to standardise the training and raise the number of training providers.

The Bill also requires those in charge of animals, including pet owners, animal shelters and animal fosterers, to ensure reasonable care for them. Those who neglect their animals will, for the first time, face a fine of up to $20,000 and/or a two-year jail term.

Animal abusers will face fines of up to $30,000 and/or a three- year jail term, up from fines of up to $10,000 and/or a one-year jail term. Animal-related businesses that contravene the proposed law face fines of up to $100,000 and/or a three-year jail term, up from up to $10,000 in fines and/or a one-year jail term.

Under the Bill, enforcement officers would be able to refer to any photographic, audio or video evidence to investigate animal cruelty offences. Previously, they had to have witnessed the offence.

The proposed penalties are lower than those recommended by a panel chaired by Mr Yeo and set up by the Government in 2012 to review animal welfare laws.

Mr Yam, an MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC, explained that this was to keep the penalties for animal cruelty proportional to those for similar offences against people. "(For) an act of cruelty to an animal, it's very hard... to say it warrants a higher fine or summon or penalty than a similar act to a human," he said.

The Bill will be debated in Parliament on Monday.

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