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SPCA Positions
SPCA Advocates
Animal Welfare : SPCA Positions
Issues (Pet Overpopulation and Abandonment)

The issues: 

Pet trade – no control over commercial breeding resulting in a proliferation of pet shops and pet farms. Singapore’s free market policy means that there is no limit or cap on how many animals a commercial breeder can own and sell. Media reports (The Straits Times, 27 August 2011) referred to one breeder alone having 500 breeding dogs.

Impulse buying – There can be no doubt that the free trade policy together with the proliferation of pet shops and pet farms encourages consumerism and buying on impulse. Many pets are purchased without any consideration of the responsibilities involved. Pets acquired on impulse, are treated as commodities, many are abandoned later, when the novelty wears off. We, and other animal shelters, are left to deal with the surplus.

As pet ownership has increased in recent years, so has the incidence of neglect and abandonment. We often investigate reports of animals kept in poor conditions. 


Breeding of pets (intentional or accidental) – Many pet owners allow their animals to breed, adding to the overpopulation of unwanted pets. In recent years, rabbits and hamsters have increasingly been found abandoned because they are prolific breeders and their owners do not keep males and females apart. In one instance, we picked up 70 abandoned hamsters in a box at a void deck.  

HDB policies (historically) – Many animals (community animals and pets) are not re-homed easily because of long-standing HDB policies prohibiting the keeping of cats and medium-sized dogs.

In July 2011, it was announced that an inter-agency task force would be set up to review the current polices on owning pets, as well as community animal management in Singapore. As part of the review, the HDB would also be reviewing its policies on keeping cats as pets. 

In November 2011, the authorities announced a 12 month pilot project on ownership of cross-breed dogs in HDB flats to begin in early 2012. This will be spearheaded by ASD and us, who jointly proposed that medium-sized dogs be permitted under certain conditions.

No mass sterilisation programme of strays – Although we and many other animal welfare groups and individuals have been carrying out ad-hoc sterilisation of community animals over the years, there has been no sustained government programme on a mass scale to help reduce the community animal population and tackle the root cause – prolific breeding. It was announced in July 2011, as part of the interagency task force review, that AVA would be piloting a Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme with Cat Welfare Society (CWS) as an alternative means to managing community cats. We will be sponsoring 40 per cent of the cost with the AVA for the Macpherson area.  

What we have been doing over the years:

  • Promotion of sterilisation of pets through various media (publications/campaigns/articles/letters), talks in schools and organisations
  • Running a Sterilisation Programme for community animals
  • Educating the public against impulse buying
  • Compulsory sterilisation for animals adopted from our shelter
  • Lobbying the government for commercial breeding restrictions
  • Lobbying for a change in HDB policies
  • Lobbying the authorities for improved standards in pet shops/pet farms, including revocation of licences for those who continuously breach conditions of licence
  • Pushing for more education at point of sale in pet shops
  • Lobbying for sale of pets only to those above 16 years of age
  • Lobbying the authorities to impose mandatory dog licensing at point of sale

What you can do to help:

  • Adopt don’t buy. Tell your family and friends
  • Have your pet(s) sterilised
  • Help sterilise a community animal
  • Voice your concern to the government about unrestricted commercial breeding and sale of pets. You may wish to write to:

Mr Tan Tee How
PPA(E), PBS, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Development


Mrs Ow Foong Pheng 
Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry