SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) intends to review its regulatory approach to pet issues to deter cases of pet abandonment, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 7).
As part of the review, the agency will look into the possibility of microchipping pet cats.
“AVA intends to undertake a holistic review of the regulatory approach for pet issues, including how to promote responsible pet ownership and deter abandonment,” Ms Sun said in her Committee of Supply speech.
Cat abandonment was an issue raised by Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng, who is also the chief executive of animal welfare group ACRES.
He had asked how AVA addresses the issue, given that it inconveniences residents and feeders who struggle with the sudden increase in the stray cat population.
Mr Ng had also suggested measures like microchipping and licensing pet cats to strengthen deterrence.
“We’ll look at a variety of measures,” Ms Sun said. “The additional measures that you talked about, we will also be looking into them. This will be part of our entire holistic review of basically what is the best regulatory approach to deter pet abandonment.”
In Singapore, only dogs need to be licensed and microchipped, partly for traceability in the event of a rabies outbreak. It is currently not mandatory to microchip other pets such as cats.
The Cat Welfare Society, however, has been working with the community to microchip pet cats to strengthen accountability, Ms Sun noted. The pilot programme, called Project Love Cats, is being run in Chong Pang.
“We can consider further expansion when the Chong Pang pilot meets these outcomes, and when there is strong community support in other parts of Singapore,” she said.
Regulations aside, Ms Sun stressed the importance of working with the community and educating pet owners to be responsible.
“Because if you look at regulations, you really have to balance the needs of various stakeholders,” she said.
Ms Sun added that authorities will investigate all feedback on animal abandonment.
“AVA takes animal abandonment very seriously, and will investigate all related feedback,” Ms Sun said. “To establish the owner of an abandoned pet, AVA gathers evidence via walking the ground, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing CCTV footage.”
Those convicted of pet abandonment can be fined up to S$10,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months for the first offence.