From 1 April 2022, pet breeders and boarders will be required to abide by an improved set of licensing conditions that includes the prohibition of breeders from breeding pets with known harmful heritable conditions or carrying out in-breeding practices (such as those involving its progeny, parent or siblings). These licensing conditions for breeders were announced by the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks), together with a set of tightened licensing conditions for commercial pet boarding facilities. The licensing conditions for pet boarders and breeders were finalised following multiple public consultation sessions as well as extensive engagement with industry stakeholders. The launch of these conditions marks the completion of the work done in reviewing and enhancing the requirements for pet breeding, as well as regulating animal boarding facilities with the aim of improving animal welfare. In another key area of the Pet Sector Review, AVS will be launching an online public consultation to seek feedback on dog rehoming and adoption practices, including dog training-related issues. The online consultation, which will span one month, will start tomorrow, 9 October 2021.
More than 80% of the feedback received supported the tightened licensing conditions for pet breeders and boarders
AVS had embarked on the Pet Sector Review in August 2019, where the pet breeding and boarding sectors were identified as a key priority for review. Since then, we have conducted five focus group discussions, two public consultation sessions with almost 6,000 responses received in total, and nine engagement sessions with industry stakeholders, to formulate an updated set of licensing conditions for pet breeding and boarding industries.
The recent online public consultation that closed on 31 July 2021 saw about 750 respondents, of which more than 85% were pet owners. Overall, results showed that the respondents were highly supportive of AVS’ efforts in tightening the licensing conditions for pet breeding and boarding facilities.
In addition, a majority of the concerns expressed by the respondents for the breeding and boarding industries had already been addressed in the earlier drafted licensing conditions presented for online public consultation in July 2021. Some of the recent comments received were on the need to specify conditions under which dogs can be bred, as well as the importance of socialisation and enrichment for breeding animals. To this end, AVS has mandated that a dog will not be allowed to be bred with its progeny, parent or siblings, nor are breeders allowed to breed dogs with known harmful heritable conditions. AVS has also included a condition that stipulates for all breeding dogs above six years old to be retired and sterilised within six months after retirement. The frequency of breeding for each breeding dog has also been set at no more than one litter per year. These revisions are aligned with overseas standards, such as those from Australia and the United Kingdom, and will ensure better welfare for breeding dogs.
More than 80% of the feedback received deemed these changes to be positive and in the right direction to raise animal health and welfare standards in Singapore. In response to public feedback, AVS will be making an additional amendment where breeders will need to ensure and provide post-retirement care for breeding dogs, either through continued care for the animals on the farm or rehoming them.
With the finalisation of the licensing conditions, the breeding and boarding businesses will be given a period of six months to make the necessary adjustments before the full conditions are implemented in April 2022. AVS will continue to work closely with pet breeders and boarders to facilitate the smooth implementation of the conditions. Every licensed breeder will continue to be inspected at least once a year. This will be supplemented with additional inspections if breaches are found during previous inspections or when AVS receives feedback on any licensed breeder. This forms part of AVS’ risk-based approach to further inspect breeders based on their compliance history. The same enforcement protocols will also be applied to boarders.
AVS starts new month-long online public consultation for dog rehoming and adoption
AVS will be consulting the public on dog rehoming and adoption practices – another key area of the Pet Sector Review and a direct result of the deliberations by the Rehoming and Adoption Work Group (RAWG). The public consultation, which will begin on 9 October 2021, will last for one month, and close on 8 November 2021. The consultation will be conducted online through a survey at the Animal & Veterinary Service’s webpage at https://go.gov.sg/avsdogsstudy. A range of topics on dog rehoming, adoption and training-related issues will be covered, including the adoption process, managing dogs with behavioural issues, and raising the standards of the dog training industry. AVS will collate input from the public consultation as well as from the previous RAWG group discussions, and these will be incorporated into guidelines which are expected to be ready by the end of this year.
RAWG was formed in October 2020 to improve dog rehoming and adoption processes. At the final session earlier this year, the multi-stakeholder workgroup had proposed guiding principles and solutions on the rehoming and rehabilitation of dogs. Since then, AVS has conducted nine focus group discussions with individuals from different segments of the pet industry, ranging from veterinarians, dog trainers and members of animal welfare groups, to further develop the guidelines. In addition, the RAWG identified the need to look into raising the standards of the dog training industry.
Pet Sector Review
The Pet Sector Review aims to raise the standards of animal health and welfare in Singapore. AVS will continue to work with stakeholders and partners to enhance other identified areas such as raising the professionalism of the veterinary industry, and animal rehoming and rehabilitation. One of the key focus areas of the Pet Sector Review is also to promote public education and outreach on responsible pet ownership and harmonious co-existence with animals. AVS will continue to forge relationships with like-minded individuals and communities to spread awareness on the science behind animal care and promote responsible pet ownership in Singapore. In addition to Animal Welfare Groups, AVS will be forming localised animal interest groups in the East Coast and Bishan areas for a start, to co-create activities and organise programmes to raise awareness on animal welfare and responsible pet ownership matters, later in the year. NParks intends to expand such collaborations in the future. This is an extension of AVS’ ongoing engagement with the public and stakeholders on the Pet Sector Review. This is also in line with the vision to transform Singapore into a City in Nature, for which community stewardship is a key thrust.