SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has issued a new code of animal welfare for the pet industry which will take effect from Oct 1, it said in a press release on Thursday (Aug 11).
The Code of Animal Welfare, developed by a Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee (MSCC) chaired by Member of Parliament (MPs) Alex Yam, are based on recommendations issued by the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee (AWLRC) in March last year.
The MSCC, established in October 2013, comprises MPs and representatives from the animal welfare groups, hobbyists, pet industry, community, veterinary profession and AVA.
The code specifies minimum standards on animal housing, management and care, which pet businesses are expected to comply with as well as best practices on animal housing, management and care which pet businesses are encouraged to adopt to "further raise the standard of animal welfare in Singapore", AVA said in the release.
The authority added that the code applies to all businesses that offer pets or goods and services for pets, including those not licensed by AVA.
"Although failure to meet a minimum standard in the code is not an offence, it can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement actions for animal welfare cases," it said.
AVA added that pet businesses will be given a grace period of six months, until Mar 31, 2017 to comply with the rules, during which the code will not be used as supporting evidence to prosecute animal welfare offences. However, the authority will continue to take enforcement action where there is direct evidence of animal welfare and cruelty contraventions, it stated.
TRAINING CURRICULUM UP FOR CONSIDERATION
Separately, the MSCC submitted its recommendation for the curriculum on mandatory training on animal care and handling for operators and staff of pet-related businesses. The recommendations, which are for AVA's consideration and subsequent implementation, cover legislation and licensing requirements, basic knowledge for management of pet businesses and guidelines on care, housing and nutrition, as well as transport for different species and breeds of animals.
Like the Code of Animal Welfare, the development of the training curriculum was one of the 24 recommendations by the AWLRC to improve animal welfare in Singapore released in March last year.
MSCC said its recommendations on the training curriculum were drafted with the intent to ensure operators and workers in the pet industry have the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfil their duty of care to animals under their charges.
The recommended training curriculum is intended for any person who works in the pet industry, and is involved in the care and handing of animals, providing an overview of the basic knowledge and skills needed for the care and handling of animals with a focus on ensuring animal welfare, it added.
The committee also said a "consultative approach" was taken in the drafting of the curriculum recommendations, taking into consideration the views of representatives from various stakeholder groups. The set of recommendations put forth by MSCC to AVA reflects a "balanced outcome" arising from those discussions, it added.
Commenting on the curriculum recommendations made by MSCC as well as the code issued by AVA, Mr Yam said he was "confident" these measures would be "instrumental in helping pet businesses fulfil their duty of care to animals under their charge and enhance overall animal welfare standards".