[They only saw the officer holding a short pipe used for animal transfers and mistakenly assumed that a beating had occurred.]

by Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 9:06pm
 (Photo – added from the net)

AVA has recently received feedback from concerned members of the public on the management of strays (in particular the culling of stray dogs) and alleged animal cruelty cases. We assure the public that AVA is committed to ensuring animal health and welfare. We would also like to clarify our approach to stray animal management and the alleged cases.

Stray animal management

The management of stray animals is a complex and emotive issue with no easy solutions. We share the concerns of animal lovers on the management of strays in Singapore and strongly support sterilisation to prevent uncontrolled breeding. Through our public education programme, we have been actively encouraging pet owners to sterilise their pets and not to abandon them.

Given a choice, euthanasia is an unfortunate task we would rather not perform. However, we cannot rely solely on sterilisation to keep the stray population in check. Strays can create nuisance and public health risk problems regardless of whether they are sterilised or not. Dogs in a pack can be dangerous. There are cases of dogs attacking people and other animals, including dogs and cats, sometimes with serious consequences. For example, we have received repeated feedback from numerous members of the public that a pack of stray dogs at Lorong Halus has been threatening public safety, with a passer-by reported to have bitten by a stray dog.

Of greater concern is the possibility of stray dogs spreading rabies to humans in the event of a rabies outbreak in Singapore. All dogs, whether sterilised or not, are susceptible to rabies. As such, they should be properly homed and licensed, and not stray in the environment.

To manage the stray population, when alerted by the public on stray dog nuisance, AVA carries out surveillance to verify feedback and operations to round up stray dogs. We may engage external services to support our operations, and these contractors are required to comply with welfare guidelines on the capture, transport and handling of stray animals that were derived in conjunction with SPCA as well as guidelines on the use of animal traps. All animals are checked on arrival to ensure that they are in satisfactory condition. Stray dogs that are rounded up and not claimed by owners will be euthanized humanely.

It is inevitable that sterilisation and euthanasia have to be carried out in tandem to alleviate these problems and prevent the proliferation of strays. Nevertheless we work with animal welfare groups and activists to explore feasible ways of managing the stray animal population, where feasible. For example, in the area of stray cat management, AVA is working with the Cat Welfare Society and their volunteers under AVA’s Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme. The sterilised cats are returned to the neighbourhood where they are responsibly managed by their caregivers.

Feedback on animal cruelty

With regards to animal cruelty, we would like to emphasize that AVA takes all alleged cases seriously. We investigate all feedback about animal cruelty and will not hesitate to take action against anyone who has committed an act of animal cruelty. However, in order for us to take action to prosecute any persons, we would need concrete physical and testimonial evidence that can be presented in Court.

We will like to stress that we will not hesitate to take action against anyone who has committed an act of animal cruelty if it is determined that an animal has been abused. Witnesses may also be required to testify in court if necessary. Anyone charged in court and found guilty of animal cruelty can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed up to 12 months, or both. We will also not hesitate to press for a deterrent sentence, if warranted. 

Allegations of cruelty by AVA officers

Allegations of animal cruelty by AVA officers were earlier posted on our Facebook page. Although the posts were subsequently removed by their original authors, we would nonetheless like to clarify that we have investigated and ascertained that the allegations are not true. 

In the incident cited, we had responded to public complaints of two stray dogs in the area; and there were concerns that the dogs would pose a danger to the people.  In our surveillance rounds, the black dog was captured by our officers, but the brown dog managed to escape.

Our investigations into the allegations showed that at no time, did our officers beat the dogs. This was corroborated by a volunteer, from Noah Ark’s CARES, an animal welfare group who had spoken to the witnesses who admitted that they did not see the alleged act.  They only saw the officer holding a short pipe used for animal transfers and mistakenly assumed that a beating had occurred.

Noah Ark’s CARES has informed us that they have caught the brown dog and it has since been re-homed. They have also taken over the black dog caught by AVA and will be re-homing it.

We stress that AVA takes feedback on animal welfare and cruelty seriously. Thus, we respond to all feedback on animal cruelty and will not hesitate to take action against anyone who has committed an act of animal cruelty. However, we also take a serious view of baseless allegations against our officers, which are counter-productive to our efforts of safeguarding animal welfare. Feedback given to AVA should be based on evidence, and not on hearsay.

Public education

We believe that public education is important in reducing the problem of strays and improving animal welfare standards in Singapore. To this end, AVA actively promotes responsible pet ownership to equip potential and existing pet owners with knowledge on the care and responsibility that comes with owning a pet. Our RPO Public Education Programme currently includes a mass media campaign, an annual RPO Roadshow, talks and workshops, ambassador programmes for teachers and students, community events, library exhibitions and shows, and a microsite (http://www.petsforlife.com.sg/) that features pet information, games and contests. We also work closely with the animal welfare groups on these initiatives and continue to look for new and innovative platforms to further engage the public.


SAS (Something About Singapore) Note : If you witness any animal being abused, please call 64719996 / 6471 7198