Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Government to build and lease facilities for animal shelters, farms; Stricter dog licensing rules from March 2017

Government to build new homes for strays and pet farm animals
Facilities will be leased to about 40 groups and farms whose current leases end next year
By Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 22 Nov 2016

In an unprecedented move, the Government will build new facilities at Sungei Tengah for around 40 animal welfare groups and pet farms in Loyang and Seletar, which will need to move out of their premises when their leases expire by the end of next year.

The facilities will be leased to the organisations for monthly rentals, obviating the need to raise a lump sum of money to buy land and construct their own facilities, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a statement yesterday.

Each farm and group will be allotted a space inside a 3ha compound, the size of which will depend on the number of animals. Construction will start next year.

Each unit will be able to house around 20 dogs and will include facilities like food storage and bathing areas, said animal welfare groups.

The rental rate for groups and shelters will be around $13 per sq m per month. Pet farm rentals will be based on tender bids for the units.

The 29 farms, nine groups and several independent shelters are moving from their current homes, bringing with them 6,000 to 7,000 animals, to make way for redevelopment, said the AVA.

The news was welcomed by animal welfare groups, which had been worried that some 2,000 stray and abandoned dogs and cats they care for would be left without a home.

"I am very surprised that they did this. We thought the best outcome would be to open land for bidding for animal welfare purposes," said Dr Siew Tuck Wah, president of animal welfare group SOSD, which cares for about 100 dogs.


"We were already coming up with desperate plans... we were even prepared to sell our houses."

The new facilities will be ready by the end of next year, allowing the animals a seamless move from their current homes. They will be in the form of two-storey buildings, instead of one-storey ones at the current Loyang and Seletar premises, which the AVA said will make more efficient use of the land.

The AVA has also assured the farms and groups that there will be "sufficient space for the existing number of animals from the animal welfare groups and pet farms".

Mr Derrick Tan, president of Voices For Animals, one of the affected animal welfare groups located at Loyang with over 100 dogs, said as the animals will share common exercise areas, care needs to be taken to ensure that there are no disease outbreaks. "We need to be extra cautious about vaccinations," he said.

Ms Christine Tan, co-founder of Causes for Animals Singapore located at Seletar, said while it is heartening to know that something is being done, she is concerned about how her 30 dogs would adjust to the smaller new premises.

Dog owners and pet businesses to face stricter licensing requirements from March 2017
By Tiffany Fumiko Tay, The Straits Times, 1 Feb 2017

Dog owners will soon have to inform the authorities when they sell or give away their pets, and provide the particulars of the new owners, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) yesterday.

This is part of stricter licensing requirements for pet dogs that will kick in on March 1.

Under the enhanced rules, which were first announced last November, pet businesses will also have to license each dog, and transfer ownership of the dogs to their new owners when sold. The onus is now on owners to license their dogs, and many do not, those in the animal welfare community told The Straits Times.

The AVA said the new regulations are aimed at making pet dogs easier to trace, particularly in the event of a disease outbreak such as rabies; discouraging owners from abandoning their pets; and reuniting lost dogs with their owners.

The requirements do not extend to shelters, though many already ensure adopted dogs are licensed.

The AVA said it has been working with pet businesses - comprising dog farms, pet shops and importers - to prepare them for the new rules since November last year, when it announced that it would be implementing stricter regulations.

"Some of the businesses said the change will reduce the amount of paperwork and help them keep track of their sources, which is important for disease control," said Ms Jessica Kwok, group director of AVA's animal management group.

Dog ownership transfers for both individual pet owners and businesses can be done online on the AVA's Pet Animal Licensing System portal.

Those convicted of keeping an unlicensed dog face a fine of up to $5,000, while recalcitrant pet businesses may have their licences suspended or revoked, said the AVA.

Ms Joie Leong, a dog owner who is in her 30s, welcomed the new regulations. The make-up stylist, who owns a rescued poodle, said the stricter rules will help to reduce the number of dogs being abandoned as their ownership will be easily traceable.

It is illegal to abandon one's pet.

"I think it's a very good first step in promoting responsibility. Going further, AVA should also look at home breeders as they are unregulated," said Ms Leong.

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