Animal welfare: Extensive measures recommended to protect them

Lala, a Maltese, was among 75 dogs mistreated by Benny Neo, 31, who leased Pet Hotel at Pasir Ris Farmway 2 to breed dogs. Neo was fined $50,000 after he pleaded guilty to 10 charges of cruelty to animals. Stiffer fines and jail terms for animal abusers and compulsory screening of would-be pet buyers may be imminent

Stiffer fines and jail terms for animal abusers and compulsory screening of would-be pet buyers may be imminent.


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The following is the statement from the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee.

ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION REVIEW COMMITTEE (AWLRC) SUBMITS ITS RECOMMENDATIONS TO GOVERNMENT

The Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee (AWLRC) has submitted its recommendations and final report to the Minister for National Development Mr Khaw Boon Wan.

The report detailed the AWLRC's study, findings and discussions. It included 24 recommendations, which seek to raise animal welfare standards in Singapore, through strengthening the legislation on animal welfare, as well as enhancing stakeholders' collaboration on animal welfare.

Recommendations from Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee

2. The 24 recommendations, both legislative and non-legislative are grouped under four thrusts:

Thrust I: Ensuring reasonable care and welfare of animals

3. The key recommendations under this thrust include requiring owners and people in charge of animals to have a duty of care for animal, and for codes of animal welfare to be adopted so that people are clear on what acts and behaviours are right, and what are wrong.

Thrust II: Increasing deterrence and stepping up action against wrongdoers

4. The AWLRC recommends a new tiered penalty structure, so as to take into account the intent of the offender and nature of the abuse. It will include higher fines and jail terms for certain offences; distinct penalties for corporate bodies; imposition of community service and prohibition orders for keeping of pets or engaging in animal-related trade.

Thrust III: Fostering greater responsibility in industry to ensure animal welfare

5. The AWLRC recommends all pet-related businesses to undergo training on animal care and handling, as well as licensing of commercial pet breeding and boarding.

To reduce impulse buying, the AWLRC recommends a minimum age of 16 years old for buying a pet and to require pet shops and farms to conduct pre-sale screening of buyers, so that pets are sold to informed, responsible and committed buyers.

6. Besides regulations, the AWLRC recommends industry-led accreditation schemes that promote industry standards above and beyond regulatory requirements.

Thrust IV: Fostering greater responsibility amongst pet owners and greater community awareness of animal welfare

7. Increasing stakeholder collaboration on Responsible Pet Ownership education and extending mediation-cum-engagement programmes to help resolve animal-related local disputes are the key recommendations under this thrust.

Information on the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee

9. The AWLRC is chaired by Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC and member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for National Development, and comprises MPs Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Mr Alex Yam, as well as community grassroots leaders, and representatives from the animal welfare groups, pet industry, and the veterinary profession. The list of the Committee members is appended.

10. As part of its review, the AWLRC initiated a consultation process to take into consideration Singapore society's expectations for animal welfare, the diverse views of the various stakeholders, and strike a balance between animal welfare, safeguarding of public safety, and other competing interests.

The AWLRC held six consultation sessions from May to July 2012 involving more than 170 participants from the industry, grassroots leaders, veterinarians, and animal welfare groups and activists to seek views from these stakeholder groups.

The AWLRC also sought further views from the public and stakeholder consultation participants through an e-consultation on the REACH portal from 5 September to 5 October 2012, which received views from 570 respondents.

11. Chairman of AWLRC, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang hopes that the AWLRC's work can contribute towards raising Singapore's animal welfare standards in the long run - "It is important to have proactive and responsive legislation, and address the welfare of the animals in the way that they are cared for and not just limited to punishing acts of cruelty.

"Apart from strengthening legislation, we also hope to instil responsible and appropriate behaviour in all stakeholders who play a part in an animal's life cycle, as animal welfare is a shared responsibility by all stakeholders."

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