SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) intends to review the regulation of pet boarding businesses, Senior Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of National Development (MND) Sun Xueling said on Wednesday (Feb 13).
This will be part of a "holistic review" of the regulatory approach for the pet industry, she added.
"AVA will engage its stakeholders, including pet owners, industry players and animal welfare groups, to find the right balance across their various needs and interests," she said.
Ms Sun was responding to Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng, who had asked whether the ministry will introduce a licensing requirement for pet boarding businesses in addition to the standards and best practices listed in the Code of Animal Welfare.
His question shines a spotlight on the pet boarding industry, which came under scrutiny after at least one dog at pet boarding centre Platinium Dogs Club was found to have died under its care.
Ms Sun said that all pet business operators, including pet boarders, have a duty of care towards the animals they handle. AVA currently licenses pet shops and pet farms, some of which have commercial pet boarding facilities, she added.
Beyond the Code of Animal Welfare, AVA can take enforcement action against pet boarding businesses under the Animals and Birds Act for failing in this duty of care, or for animal cruelty.
In December last year, authorities had raided the premises of Platinium Dogs Club as part of an investigation into reports of alleged mistreatment of animals at the centre.
In response to Ms Sun's comments on the review of rules for the pet boarding industry, Mr Ng asked whether there is a list of of pet boarders that can be referred to in the meantime, so that spot checks can be done proactively in order to prevent abuse.
Ms Sun replied that AVA maintains a list of commercial boarders in pet farms. Mr Ng, however, said that the issue may lie in premises such as Platinum Dogs Club, which are not housed in pet farms.
"Pet boarders are currently not required to be licensed unless they are on farmland. I think we need to be mindful that there are many pet boarders out there who are do-gooders, well-meaning pet lovers who provide pet boarding facilities," Ms Sun replied.
At present, under the Animal and Birds Act, offenders who fail in their duty of care towards the animals in the course of conducting an animal-related business may face a fine of up to S$40,000 and/or a jail term of up to two years, if convicted.