Animal woes- will it help if we ban pet shops?

You may have read in TODAY about the move of animal shelters from Pasir Ris to Sungei Tengah and the shelters are facing new problems after they moved in.

Essentially, they have a lack of manpower because their rental package at Pasir Ris used to include a foreign worker but now it doesn’t and volunteer numbers to the Sungei Tengah shelter has dropped. Because most of the shelters’ volunteers are from the East and also because the Tengah location is quite ulu. The nearest bus stop to the shelters is about 1km from the nearest bus-stop and those who drive need to pay parking charges now.

So the shelters have asked the authorities to provide more support. For the smaller problems that they need help in, we really hope the government can do something lah, like build an extra bus stop so that it is a bit accessible. And remove carpark charges lah, who will drive there just to park for free?! But these kind of small things can help to make it easier for the volunteers to travel there to help the animals.

The animal welfare groups are also hoping to be exempted from manpower quotas that require them to hire Singaporeans before being able to hire foreigners. They said it is difficult to hire local workers as the salary is higher and local workers tend to be less able to work shifts and quit after a short period.

But the irony is that the commercial breeding farms are given a farm license which allows them to employ foreign workers while the animal shelters are not allowed to, according to Mr Ray Yeh, owner of BFF animal shelter.

This really sounds weird to us – what it seems to mean is that the commercial pet farms have a better advantage and ironically they are the ones contributing to the problem and passing it on to animal shelters!

It is a common practice of these commercial breeding farms to throw out their breeding animals past a certain age once their reproductive value is used up but these animals still have a long way to go in their lifespan. Some of these breeding animals are passed on to animal welfare groups and for the others, who knows how these commercial farms get rid of the animals.

And during their time in the commercial breeding farms, not like the farms take good care of them. Many breeding animals stay caged up in cramped places with little care since they are merely used as tools to produce cute puppies for sale. The cost of maintenance and medical care for animals is expensive, which is why most breeding farms do not take proper care of their breeding animals in order to maximize their revenue.

We do not get to see what happens in these breeding farms and we couldn’t imagine how neglected the breeding animals are until we saw these photos:

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See these pictures also feel angry. So why do these commercial farms get a better deal than the non-profit organisations which are clearing up the shit for them?

Really must say we don’t understand why the animals can be treated so badly for money. I mean, want to earn money but can at least have some ethical standard anot? While AVA has regulations and minimum standards for the breeding farms to follow and conduct checks on them, doesn’t seem like the standards are being met and are the checks regular enough or not? Sounds like this is the same sad case of foreign workers’ welfare, there are policies on paper but it is a different thing on the ground.

Actually, countries are slowly banning commercial breeding farms. For instance, England is planning to ban pet shops and dealers from selling puppies and kittens. This means that those who want a pet will have to adopt from the animal shelters or buy directly from the breeder which hopefully helps consumers to better check if their pet was bred in a humane manner.

In the US, California is the first state to enact a law in 2017 to ban pet stores from selling commercially-bred animals. Since then, hundreds of cities and counties including New York City have adopted similar laws.

Nearer to home, Victoria in Australia passed a law last year to limit the number of dogs that a pet breeder can keep. Breeders with more than 10 female dogs will have to seek ministerial approval and will be subject to stricter regulations. Pet shops will also no longer be allowed to sell puppies and pet shops will now become adoption centres for rescue dogs.

Is this something that Singapore can consider to better regulate and improve the situation of the breeding animals for pets? Especially since more Singaporeans are becoming pet owners. More people in Singapore now own dogs, with the number of dogs increasing from an estimated 47,000 in 2006 to 62,000 in 2015.

The demand is quite huge but where is the supply coming from?

It is easy for us to walk into a pet shop and buy that cute fluffy kitten or puppy. What many of us don’t know is how badly treated the parents of these cute animals are treated. Now that we know, we can choose adoption over buying but more needs to be done as this is a bigger system problem.

And the Government should do more about it. At least ease the restrictions and pave the way for the good-hearted souls who want to help lah!