Our Stand

SPCA’s positions on animal welfare issues.
Companion Animals

No To Getting Pets As Presents

If you are thinking of giving a pet as a present, don’t. The person on the receiving end may not be prepared to commit to the animal’s lifetime, which could last any time between 3 years and 20 years (refer below for the lifespans of various pets). The temptation to get that cute furry pet may be hard to resist, but please consider the animal’s welfare!

Often, animals that are gifted as presents end up getting abandoned when the novelty wears off. Many parents often make the mistake of giving in to their child’s demands and get a live animal as a gift to make the child happy. However, without the right mindset and preparation, this usually ends in tears and frustration.

Just like us, pets need balanced diets, a safe and secure place to call home, obedience training, exercise, veterinary treatment when they fall ill, annual check-ups and vaccinations, and plenty of attention from their owners. These responsibilities last the animal’s lifetime. What happens when the person loses interest in keeping the pet? Are the parents willing to become the primary caretaker of the pet? Will the responsibility be transferred back to the person who gave the animal as a gift?

Pets as free gifts and prizes

We have also received feedback about animals (e.g. fish) being given away at promotions or used as prizes in games at fairs and events organised by schools or other organisations. These practices are not permitted in Singapore and violate animal welfare. Instead of fostering responsible pet ownership, it teaches people to take lives lightly. Acquired on impulse in an atmosphere of excitement, most do not have any consideration for the animals’ welfare. Some animals die shortly after or face an uncertain future where provision of proper care is concerned.

Continuing such promotions gives our future generations the impression that living things can be regarded as playthings used for amusement.

No To Dressing Up Pets Unless For Medical Reasons

It is always best to avoid any activity that may cause our pets harm, especially if it provides no benefits to the animal. Clothing can be very uncomfortable and can actually cause stress to an animal.

There are specific cases where clothing benefits the animal, for example when applying medication for the skin or when an animal needs help keeping warm. Whenever in doubt, pet owners should seek the advice of their veterinarians to check what is best for their pet.

In our hot and humid weather, unnecessary clothing may cause an animal to overheat quite quickly. Animals use many parts of their body to communicate with us and other animals. Clothing interferes with this mode of communication and can again, cause undue stress.

It is important to observe your pet for signs of stress, and immediately remove all clothing and accessories if your pet shows any signs of discomfort.

Some signs pet caregivers can look out for:

  • behaviour changes when the accessory is put on
  • signs of nervousness such as licking of lips or exaggerated yawning
  • the animal becomes inactive, quiet, or tries to hide
  • scratching or biting the accessory and attempting to remove it

No To Electric Collars Or Other Aversive Training Tools & Methods

All dogs should be trained. The benefits are twofold – whilst training your pet and becoming a responsible owner, you are also getting to know your dog better.

In our experience, there are many dogs that are left unattended, caged, or tied because they exhibit one problem or another, e.g. digging/chewing on objects. This is merely a short cut to the problem and does not address the root cause which is often a lack of socialisation/exercise/interaction with the owner/s. An animal that is confined for most of its time will cause a new set of problems.

It is important to communicate, from day one, with your dog, and to apply positive reinforcement methods.

When picking a dog trainer, it is important that you choose one who is up-to-date with innovations in dog training, behaviour tools, and techniques. They should employ humane teaching methods that are not harmful to the dog or handler, and avoid the use of punitive or compulsion training methods such as hanging, beating, kicking, shocking or any other training device that causes the dog pain, fear or distress. Electric or prong collars are a no-no because they are open to misuse and can cause harm and inflict unnecessary suffering.

The training experience with your dog should be an enjoyable and comfortable one. If you feel pressured or your dog appears to be cowering from or fearing the trainer, you should consider switching trainers.

Here are some books that are recommended by the leading authority in dog training, Ian Dunbar:
– Good Little Dog Book
– Before you get a Puppy
– After you get a Puppy

You can also visit libraries that have a good selection of books to aid dog owners in training their animals.

For obedience training, you can contact:

– Singapore Kennel Club at 64694821 or email [email protected]

– PuppyLove at http://www.puppylovedogtraining.com/

– Kang Nee (Cheerful Dogs) at http://www.cheerfuldogs.com/

Animal & Veterinary Service rules for ‘potentially dangerous dogs’

Following its announcement about changes to Dog Licensing and Control Rules in November 2010, the AVS has established a panel to accredit dog trainers for the purpose of training dogs that are listed under the Second Schedule, or any dogs that have been assessed by the AVS to be potentially dangerous. The Panel for the Accreditation of Dog Trainers (PADT) comprises experts from both the public and private sectors. Dog owners can now refer to AVS’s website https://www.nparks.gov.sg/avs for a list of their accredited trainers.

Electric Collars (E-Collars)

In our view, the use of electric collars on dogs is cruel. In the wrong hands, it is also open to misuse. We do not condone the use of such devices or any others that inflict negative reinforcement.

The Electric Collar, or e-collar, gives an electric shock to the dog whenever it demonstrates unacceptable behaviour. Each time a shock is delivered, it can also cause unnecessary pain, stress and suffering to the dog. The use of electric collars is merely a `quick fix’ approach to controlling a dog’s behaviour. This form of training is no substitute for training based on understanding and love, coupled with the establishment of a rewarding and trusting relationship.

Australia banned the importation of electric collars and such devices, and anyone found using them can be prosecuted. In 1999, we supported the Singapore Kennel Club’s proposal to the government calling for a ban on these collars.

Unfortunately, the appeal was without success. The Primary Production Department (now called the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority), although not banning the use of the collars at that time, said that it would not hesitate to take action against any person found to be using an electric collar cruelly and in an abusive manner with malicious intent.

Note: We advise all dog owners not to engage the services of any dog trainer who uses electric dog collars.

No To Buying Red-Eared Sliders On Impulse

Red-Eared Sliders or terrapins as they are commonly known, are sold widely throughout Singapore, in pet and aquarium shops. They can be purchased for $4 which is not indicative of the long-term commitment needed to look after them. Pet shop operators should be advising owners that the small cute creatures can live up to 30 years and grow to the size of a dinner plate.

In our experience, cases are reported where the animals are clearly suffering because of their owners keeping them in poor conditions, like the ones pictured here. Many others are abandoned in ponds, canals or reservoirs once their owners realise that they have no time or place to maintain the animals.

NOTE: We do not encourage the purchase of Red-Eared Sliders as pets, due to the long-term commitment and special needs.

Cruelty to animals is a crime

In Singapore, cruelty to animals is a crime. Under the Animals and Birds Act, anyone who is found guilty of such an offence including abandonment of any animal, can be imprisoned for up to 18 months, fined up to $15,000, or both.

No Leaving Animals in Cars

We often receive calls informing us of pet owners leaving their pets in their cars while they’re off running errands. Contrary to popular belief, it is not okay to leave your pet in the car, even if it’s for a short while, and even if the window is slightly rolled down.

The temperature inside a stationary car can soar in just minutes and increases exponentially as compared to the temperature outside the car.

With their much smaller bodies, animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just under 15 minutes.

It’s difficult for animals, especially dogs who can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads, to cool themselves down while in the stationary car. A small gap through the windows does not help.

If you see an animal left alone in a car, please stay on the scene and try to alert the owner if possible. Otherwise, please take down the car’s colour, model, and licence plate number and more importantly a picture or video of the dog in the car and contact our 24/7 hotline at 6287 5355 Ext.9.

Note: People walking their dog in the heat of the day can also cause their pet to suffer from heatstroke. Owners think that their dogs enjoy it.  However, we have to remember that they are wearing a fur coat. Can we imagine ourselves going out in the heat wearing a fur coat?  The best time to walk your dog is early morning or late evening.

No To Pet Overpopulation and Abandonment

Pets are abandoned every day

In 2011, we took in 7,081 animals– up to 50 per cent were unwanted or abandoned pets. 1,169 were small domestic pets like rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs – often abandoned at void decks.

At any one time, the SPCA can house up to 170 animals. Currently, we accept all animals brought in, and although every effort is made to convince owners to keep their pets and for finders to re-home strays, we still end up with so many.


Under the Animals and Birds Act, a person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) shall be liable on conviction for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding $15,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 18 months or to both; and (ii)for a second or subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding $30,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to both.

Education is key to responsible pet ownership, but a multi-pronged approach is necessary to arrest the rampant occurrence of pet abandonment.

Overpopulation 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
[email protected]


Mrs Ow Foong Pheng
Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry
[email protected]

No To Using Water Bottles At Home For Dogs

We have come across a number of dog owners using water bottles for their animals. This is probably because they see them being used in the pet shops and think that this is the right apparatus for a dog to drink water from. We would like to emphasise the importance of dogs having access to a decent and ready supply of water.

Water bottles require considerable effort from the animals and are inadequate in quenching their thirst. In our tropical climate, it is simply not fair for dogs to have to lick continuously on a water bottle in order to obtain droplets of water. A water bowl enables them to lap a more generous amount of water, thereby fulfilling their thirst adequately.

No Importation & Sale Of Tattooed Fish

In January 2008, it was reported in the press that Qian Hu fish farm had imported 500 Molly fish tattooed with numbers from 0 to 9, with many customers buying four fish at a time obviously in the hope of striking it lucky at 4D.

We objected strongly to this in the press, and urged the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) to ban the importation on the basis that it was cruel, unnatural and unnecessary. The AVA responded that a ban was unnecessary as there is currently no international ban on trade in dyed fishes.

Our opinion, however, is that a ban is necessary because the welfare of the fish is compromised.

No To Rent-A-Pet Schemes

We object strongly to the rent-a-pet concept/practice, whether it involves an owned pet or shelter animal. We believe that there would be welfare issues for any pet that is passed around repeatedly to different homes, for temporary interludes, as there would be varying expectations of the pets from every household, and inconsistent levels of treatment by those renting.

If the individuals are not experienced in keeping pets, there are likely to be welfare problems such as stress from adapting to new and unfamiliar environments and people. Stress in turn could bring about illnesses. This only makes the animal less able to adapt, and less adoptable.

No To Leaving Your Pets In The Haze

Make sure to keep your pets indoors as much as possible, and if your rabbits / small pets typically are kept at the balcony, bring them in as the smaller animals are at greater risk of smoke inhalation, due to their smaller lung capacities.

Adjust your pet dog’s exercise levels accordingly. Play with your dogs indoors, using games that stimulate their minds (e.g. hide-and-seek, pet-food puzzle toys, learning a trick) so they can work off their energy without undergoing over-exposure to the haze outdoors. Do not take your dogs out for walks, if the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading crosses the 200 mark.

Turn on the air-conditioner or fan and replace the water in the water bowls more frequently to provide a more conducive home environment for your pets.

Look out for any signs of breathing difficulty, teary eyes and/or nasal discharge, and take your pet(s) to the vet immediately!

Whilst certain pet owners might look to better protect their pets by having them wear makeshift masks, our vets advise strongly against doing so. In fact, it would be dangerous for the pets with the masks obscuring their mouths, not allowing them to dispel heat which might, in turn, lead to heatstroke.

Whilst we take extra precaution to protect ourselves from the haze, do remember our animal friends’ well-being too!

No To Poor Conditions In Pet Shops

In 2014, we received 17 complaints against pet shops and pet farms. Issues raised included overcrowding (especially with small mammals like hamsters / guinea pigs / rabbits / chinchillas) and dogs and puppies housed in enclosures or display areas that were too small.

These reports were referred to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) – which regulates and licenses pet shops and pet farms – for follow-up actions.

Water bottles continue to be used for dogs, something which we find unacceptable. Dogs need a ready supply of water to lap from. Members of the public are encouraged to speak out against this practice by writing in to the AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control at [email protected].

Other problems existing in pet shops/pet farms that have been highlighted to us are:

  • Puppies resting on uncomfortable flooring (no proper covering other than mesh/wire)
  • Grids/netting on floor that are too big, especially for small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs
  • Shops not cleaning cages promptly

If you see unsatisfactory conditions in a pet shop or a pet farm, please call 62875355 and voice your concerns.

It would be helpful too if you could take pictures, but please do this discreetly. You can send the pictures together with your contact details to [email protected].

As we have no enforcement powers, cases which require action are referred to the AVA. We will require permission from you to pass on your details on referral.

For urgent cases (where an animal is observed to be in need of immediate veterinary treatment), please call 62875355 ext 9 to lodge a report immediately.

Below are some examples of conditions of pet shops in Singapore:

A puppy on display for sale in grill based cage. There is no mat for puppy to lie and rest on.

Dog kept in grill-bottomed cage

Bird with eye problem

Hamsters kept in cramped conditions in a pet shop which was only licensed to sell fish

No To Animals Displayed At Malls/Exhibitions With Poor Conditions

We have investigated welfare issues at exhibitions or promotions involving live animals after receiving feedback from the public.

Earlier in 2011 (at the onset of the Year of the Rabbit), we investigated two reported cases of rabbits being displayed under extremely stressful conditions in shopping centres. Although licences had been granted by the AVA, the organisers had not done enough to protect the welfare of the animals.

In one case, there was no crowd control and the rabbits were being poked at, cameras were flashed in their faces and the rabbits were observed to be cowering and trying to escape human contact. Some of the rabbits were housed in grilled-bottom cages. We wrote to the AVA who later advised the organisers on the issues raised.

In September 2011, our Inspectors visited another exhibition in a shopping mall. Hamsters, guinea pigs, and chinchillas were on display and used for photography sessions with the public. Some of the animals were clearly stressed, particularly the guinea pigs. The organisers were advised on how to improve the environment for the animals, such as providing a shelter where the animals could retreat to.

Though the intention may have been to educate the public, the stress on the animals was significant due to the noise, excitement, and unfamiliar surroundings.

Yes To Keeping Pets For Life

Animals have been our friends and trusty helpers for thousands of years. They’ve shared our burdens, brought us joy, and showed us the true meaning of friendship. If you’ve been fortunate enough to experience a positive relationship with an animal, you’ll know that the bond between people and companion animals is one to be cherished.

Domesticated animals have become our loving companions, offering us the rarest of commodities – unconditional love. Unlike people, pets don’t care what we look like, how much money we make, what mistakes we’ve committed, or what grades we earn. It doesn’t matter if we’ve had a bad day at work or school. Our pets greet us affectionately and hang on our every word once we walk through the door. It is definitely comforting to have a furry companion in the family, but are you ready for the responsibility that comes with keeping a pet?

Our pets often require a significant amount of time, money and energy. Like us, they need care, love and effort. Depending on the species, many of them can live for many years.

Pets that come through our doors at the SPCA are abandoned by their previous families with reasons such as, “We’re moving”, “I have no time”, “Too many animals in the household” and “Baby is on the way”.

Before you decide to keep a pet, think about why you want one, and research information on the animal’s life span and requirements for shelter, food, exercise, training, grooming and veterinary care. Most importantly, speculate the changes that might take place in your family’s life over the course of the animal’s life. Could you be moving? What if a new baby is born? What if a relative comes to stay? Think of the events that have a big impact on your family and imagine how these events may be affected once you have a pet. Be sure that you have the time, money, and desire to properly care for the pet every day for his or her entire life. A lack of planning often results in people giving up pets that they thought they could handle.

The lifespan of popular pets

The following is a guide to the expected lifespan of popular pets:

Dogs and cats – up to 18 years

Rabbits – up to 12 years

Hamsters – 2 to 3 years

Gerbils – 2 to 4 years

Mice – 2 years

Guinea Pigs – 5 to 7 years

Red-Eared Sliders (commonly known as Terrapins) – up to 50 years

Note: We do not encourage the keeping of the Red-Eared Slider as pets due to the long term commitment needed. Many of these animals end up neglected, kept in plastic containers for most of their lives without any concern for their welfare. Others are illegally released into the environment and damages our ecosystem as Red-Eared Sliders are not native to Singapore.

If you’re truly ready for a pet, please consider adopting and saving lives! Visit our adoption gallery for regular updates on the animals waiting for good homes.

Community Animals

No To Glue-board Traps

The SPCA is strongly against glue board traps.

Glue board traps have caused multiple accidents in the past (e.g. kittens being stuck on glue boards) and not all animals are lucky enough to survive. We have previously appealed for a ban of glue board traps due to the suffering caused to ALL animals that are trapped on them.

Yes To Showing Tolerance Towards Community Animals

Our community animals are a large part of our environment. For many of these animals, the only homes that they know are the streets that they live on.

These animals have no place to go as we have pushed them out because of the changes to our city structure. We and the other animal welfare groups have tried our best to rehome them. However, we have space and resource constraints as well.

We believe that tolerance and empathy are needed in accepting the community animals, many of whom, ultimately, are victims of circumstance. While we do not round up healthy community animals, we rescue sick, injured, abandoned, abused and/or distressed animals, and urge the public to call our 24/7 emergency hotline (6287 5355 Ext.9)  to report such cases.

It is important to practice tolerance and respect for living beings, especially those we share our community with.


No To The Fur Trade

Fur Is For Animals

Fur farming and harvesting cause extreme suffering to the animals whose pelts adorn coats, cardigans, bags and shoes. Yet the fashion item continues to be splashed across fashion magazines, catwalks, and boutiques (even in sunny Singapore). Fur-trimmed items are also pushing up the demand for fur.

Click here for a basic guide on how to tell the difference between real and fake fur.

Majority of the fur that feeds the industry comes from captive farmed animals. Animals on fur farms are confined in crippling, cramped conditions, resulting in much distress and suffering.

Slaughter methods are concerned with keeping pelts intact but result in great suffering for the animals. Some are killed by genital electrocution, which causes animals the pain of a cardiac arrest while fully conscious. Others are poisoned (and die painful deaths via suffocation) or have their necks snapped.

In Asia, the fur industry is growing. Much of the fur comes from China. In recent years, undercover investigators from EAST International, based in Taiwan, toured fur farms in China. These farms are unregulated. There were foxes, minks, rabbits and other animals like dogs and cats. This is what the investigators found:

“…many animals are still alive and struggling desperately when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them. When workers on these farms begin to cut the skin and fur from an animal’s leg, the free limbs kick and writhe. Workers stomp on the necks and heads of animals who struggle too hard to allow a clean cut. When the fur is finally peeled off over the animals’ heads, their naked, bloody bodies are thrown onto a pile of those who have gone before them. Some are still alive, breathing in ragged gasps and blinking slowly. Some of the animals’ hearts are still beating five to 10 minutes after they are skinned. One investigator recorded a skinned raccoon dog on the heap of carcasses who had enough strength to lift his bloodied head and stare into the camera.”

To learn more about the fur trade:

In Singapore, there is simply no excuse to wear fur, even as an accessory. Exercise your right as a consumer to refuse this symbol of excessive cruelty.

Please help the animals suffering in this industry by passing this information along to friends and contacts, encouraging them to say ‘No’ to wearing fur.

Beware of items marketed as ‘synthetic’ fur

Rabbit bag chains (as pictured) have been gaining popularity in Singapore. Some members of the public told us these products are made of real rabbit fur!

During our investigations, some sellers claimed that the fur was real while others said that it was not.

Hence, we conducted our own in house tests and it, unfortunately, appears that the fur is real.

Please end the suffering by encouraging your friends and family to say ‘No’ to supporting such products.

Live Seafood

No To Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee)

Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is derived from coffee beans excreted by civets. Civet coffee is considered to be one of the world’s most expensive coffee, as the best coffee cherries are selected by the civet, followed by the chemical reactions in a civet’s gut. Thus, it is coveted for its unique flavour.

The trade of kopi luwak had its humble origins, as they were once collected from wild civets that roam through coffee plantations. However, the recent rise in demand has led to the cruel practice of farming civets i.e. the caged kopi luwak trade.

This is an industry fuelled by curiosity – even if people try it just once, the returns can justify large-scale production. Civet coffee has been steadily gaining popularity through mass and social media.

However, many consumers do not know that the caged civets face a grim fate and eventually die in captivity.

In September 2013, the BBC team went undercover in Indonesia where civets are found to be in battery farm conditions – cramped and unhygienic. You can take a look at the documentary here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvIl4mpPMkk).

Battery farm conditions can be very stressful for a wild civet, as they are solitary animals and need space to move around. Furthermore, they need a diversity of food, instead of purely coffee cherries in the farms.

After the release of the documentary, Harrods and Selfridges, both large departmental stores in the United Kingdom decided to stop sales of kopi luwak.

In Singapore, two coffee joints, OWL Café and 10 Scotts @Grand Hyatt also decided to stop civet coffee sales after they saw the videos by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA Asia), who sent investigators to many civet farms in Indonesia and Philippines.

However, sales of kopi luwak continue to occur in cafes and specialty coffee joints worldwide, including Singapore. At Project LUWAK SG, they hope to raise awareness and move towards cruelty-free coffee in Singapore by encouraging both consumers and companies to not endorse kopi luwak.

More information:

Project LUWAK SG: http://projectluwaksg.wordpress.com/
Project LUWAK SG Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/projectluwaksg
Kopi Luwak: Cut the Crap: http://www.facebook.com/kopiluwakcutthecrap

Live seafood: welfare issues

We have been advocating the regulation of the slaughter of animals such as fish, crustaceans, frogs and turtles. At present, no laws govern this. This has led to animals being left in unsatisfactory conditions. We have investigated several cases of cruelty that have been reported by members of the public, including overcrowding of tanks and dead animals left in tanks with live ones.

Seafood is widely eaten and in Singapore, it is not uncommon to see tightly confined crabs in all kinds of eateries, markets and supermarkets (as pictured above). Boiling of live crabs goes on as well, even though this is against international guidelines.

People often wonder if fish and crustaceans are sentient or if they can feel pain (as they are not as expressive as other animals) and whether their responses to being hurt are just a physical reflex. There is now, however, a growing body of evidence that fish and some crustaceans (such as crabs and lobsters) can indeed feel pain.

It might not be realistic to ask consumers to stop eating seafood in order to spare fish and crustaceans from pain and distress. However, this does not mean that crustaceans and fish should be inhumanely treated, whether in a commercial or home environment.

We are seeking to create awareness on this issue, and invite you to reflect on current practices. If you see animals in overcrowded or cruel conditions, please let the establishment know that you do not agree with this mistreatment. If more consumers speak up, these establishments will be more likely to adhere to humane guidelines. Please also let us know and consider sharing your views with your Member of Parliament.

What else can I do?

  • Ask your seafood supplier, supermarket or restaurant how the seafood is killed. Do they have designated, experienced people who are in charge of killing the seafood humanely? What methods do they use? If they use methods that are inhumane, please let them know there is a better alternative or consider changing to another supplier or taking your business to another supermarket or restaurant.
  • Eat less animal products or not consume them altogether. This will ensure that fewer animals suffer because of inhumane practices.
  • If you choose to eat seafood, go for pre-killed frozen seafood.

Live seafood: most humane slaughter methods

For Crabs

At home, the most humane method at present of killing a crab is first to lower its body temperature, before spiking it.

The crabs should be placed in a refrigerator or freezer at below 4 degrees celsius. Putting crabs in the freezer for two hours will generally kill most of them. It is best to lower the temperature slowly so that the shock does not cause them to suffer unnecessarily. The chill should be slow, and not inflicted on the crabs suddenly.

Crabs will generally be insensible by this time, and this can be ascertained by
– tapping their shells to see if there are any eye reactions;
– whether there is control over limb movements;
– whether there is resistance to handling, especially in the tail or abdomen;
– whether there is reaction around the mouth when it is touched.

At this point, the crab should be spiked through the brain with a sharp pointed tip. The insertion of a knife into the head of the animal will generally kill it, if it is not already dead.

Restaurants may consider machines like the Crustastun (http://crustastun.com/) which stun the animals with an electric shock which then kills them. The crab will be rendered insensible by an electric shock and then killed in less than 10 seconds.

Killing crabs humanely also increases the quality of the meat as killing by other methods increases the amount of adrenaline in the crabs. This causes the meat to be less tasty.

For Lobsters/Crayfish

Similarly, the best way of killing a lobster is to first render it insensible, using the refrigerator/freezer method described above.

The lobster can then be further prepared. Spiking lobsters through the head may not be the most humane method to kill them. Rocklobsters, for example, have several nerve endings.

The lobster should be put on its back, with its claws tied. Lobsters have a chain of nerves running down the middle of their bodies. Determine where the midline (the middle point) is on the bottom of the lobster is. Using the midline as a starting point, trace the path to the head of the lobster, beneath the mouth parts. Cut through the head to destroy the brain, but do not sever the head.

Put your knife back on the midline, and draw it sharply towards the head. When you are done, then do the same towards the tail. After cutting in half lengthways through the longitudinal midline, quickly remove the chain of nerve centres at the front end (chest and head) of the lobster. You should not take more than 10 seconds to finish this entire procedure.

Restaurants and larger enterprises should consider machines that administer electric shocks, like the Crustastun. Lobsters are said to die within 5 seconds using this method. The lobster is placed in a saltwater tank and a stun button is pressed, which renders the lobster insensible, before killing it.

For Prawns

Put the prawn into a refrigerator or freezer at below 4 degrees celsius. This should be done until the prawn is insensible. The prawn is insensible when the tail can be extended without resistance and can be easily moved about. Its outer mouthparts will by this time, also be easily moved. Death will usually occur at -15 degrees celsius. However it is best to reduce the temperature slowly, so that the prawn does not go into shock.

The prawn should then be humanely killed by rapidly cutting through the centerline of the head and tail.

Restaurants should consider designating people who are experienced to humanely kill the prawns. This will not only allow for it to be done more humanely, but more efficiently as well.

For Fish

Fish should be kept in water until just before they are to be killed. To humanely kill a fish, they should be stunned or spiked. (http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-the-most-humane-way-to-kill-a-fish-intended-for-eating_451.html)

Stunning is the killing of the fish by an accurate and strong blow to the head. The blow should be aimed just above the eyes so that the brain is targeted. If the fish does not look dead, then another blow should be attempted.

Spiking involves using a sharp spike through the brain of the fish. The spike should again be placed in a position to penetrate the brain of the fish. It should then be driven sharply into the brain. The blow should produce immediate unconsciousness and the spike should then be moved around from side to side to destroy the brain.

It is also possible to chill the fish slowly in a refrigerator or freezer (as stated above) and then to decapitate the fish.

Restaurants should consider designating people who are experienced to humanely kill fish. This will not only allow for it to be done more humanely, but more efficiently as well.

What Not to Do

The following methods are not advised because they are not humane methods.

For Crabs

Avoid the following methods of killing crabs as they cause unnecessary suffering:
– Throwing the crabs in boiling water;
– Removing the shell of the crabs while it are still alive;
– Pulling the pinchers off crabs while they are still alive;
– Introducing carbon dioxide into the water;
– Leaving crabs to drown in freshwater;
– Steaming crabs while they are alive;
– Microwaving crabs alive.

Boiling or steaming crabs while they are alive causes the crabs to produce more adrenaline which causes the meat to be less tasty.

For Lobsters/Crayfish

Avoid the following methods of killing lobsters/crayfish:
– Throwing lobsters/crayfish into boiling water;
– Removing parts of the lobsters/crayfish while still alive;
– Leaving them to drown in freshwater;
– Introducing carbon dioxide into the water;
– Microwaving lobsters/crayfish alive.

For Prawns

Avoid the following:
– Throwing prawns in boiling water;
– Cooking/soaking them alive in wine;
– Eating prawns alive;
– Microwaving prawns while they are alive.

For Fish

These methods do not result in a quick and humane death for the fish and should be avoided:
– Chilling the fish with ice in the water used to hold the fish;
– Carbon dioxide added into the water used to hold the fish;
– Chilling with ice and carbon dioxide in the water used to hold the fish;
– Salt or ammonia baths;
– Asphyxiation of the fish by removing them from water;
– Bleeding the fish without first stunning them.

Cutting up a live fish without first stunning or spiking it also releases adrenaline which will compromise the quality of the meat.

What else can I do?

  • Ask your seafood supplier, supermarket or restaurant how the seafood is killed. Do they have designated, experienced people who are in charge of killing the seafood humanely? What methods do they use? If they use methods that are inhumane, please let them know there is a better alternative or consider changing to another supplier or taking your business to another supermarket or restaurant.
  • Eat less animal products or not consume them altogether. This will ensure that fewer animals suffer because of inhumane practices.
  • If you choose to eat seafood, go for pre-killed frozen seafood.

Live seafood: most humane transportation methods

It is not just the process of killing crustaceans and other marine animals that causes them stress. Often, transporting and housing these creatures can cause much suffering and discomfort to them too.

Here are some tips in respect to humane transportation.

For Crabs

If the journey is a long one, then the crabs should be placed in a cooler box that is covered with ice or cold gel packs at the bottom. The crabs should not be allowed to come into contact with the melted ice.

For Lobsters/Crayfish

Live lobsters and crayfish can be brought home in seawater/freshwater, depending on what type of lobster or crayfish they are. Do not store seawater lobsters in freshwater.

For Prawns

Prawns should be placed in thick plastic bags partly filled with water and containing air, or preferably oxygen.

Do not place too many prawns in a bag.

For Fish

Fish should also be transported in thick plastic bags filled partly with water, and containing air, or preferably oxygen.

What else can I do?

  • Ask your seafood supplier, supermarket or restaurant how the seafood is killed. Do they have designated, experienced people who are in charge of killing the seafood humanely? What methods do they use? If they use methods that are inhumane, please let them know there is a better alternative or consider changing to another supplier or taking your business to another supermarket or restaurant.
  • Eat less animal products or not consume them altogether. This will ensure that fewer animals suffer because of inhumane practices.
  • If you choose to eat seafood, go for pre-killed frozen seafood.

Live seafood: most humane housing methods

As there are numerous welfare problems associated with housing live seafood at restaurants or supermarkets, it is best if the more humane option of pre killed frozen seafood is chosen.

It is best not to house any of these animals for too long either at home or at a restaurant. Particularly with home cooks, it is best to purchase live seafood just prior to preparing them for consumption.

The animals should be handled as gently as possible so as not to cause too much stress. Different species should also not be stocked together, nor should too many animals be stored in one tank as this will cause overcrowding. Waste products should also be removed promptly. All animals should be fed if they are kept in the tanks beyond a day or two.

For Crabs

You can leave the crabs in a container and drape the crabs with wet towels. Ensure that the crabs have enough air or they will suffocate. Ensure that they are kept in a cool and airy area. You may also place them in a refrigerator, however they will not last for very long out of their environment.

Restaurants should ensure that the crabs are not kept in overcrowded conditions. If the crabs are kept for a while, they should not be starved and must be fed.

For Lobsters/Crayfish

Lobsters need cool temperatures and hence they should be placed (along with their carton) into the refrigerator with a piece of wet newspaper placed over them immediately upon returning home. Lobsters do not do well in warm weather so do not leave them exposed to warm temperatures.

Do not pick a lobster up by the claws. Always handle it gently. You should also not stress the lobsters by putting too many in a carton.

Restaurants should also ensure that lobsters are kept in a stress free environment prior to cooking. They should not be removed from tanks or the refrigeration until just before preparing them to be killed.

If they are kept in tanks, the water should be clean and the lobsters should not be overcrowded. Water quality should be monitored. The tanks should not have cloudy or dirty looking water.

The levels of ammonia should also be monitored to ensure that the lobsters are not stressed. Do not allow customers to tap on the tanks as this stresses the lobsters out.

For Prawns

Do not put the prawns in tap water as they are likely to react badly to the chlorine. Ensure that they have enough oxygen.

Restaurants should be careful not to overstock their tanks and to monitor their water quality. If these are saltwater prawns, then they should be placed in saltwater. An oxygen stone to provide oxygen should be added, and the prawns should be fed daily.

For Fish

Home cooks should ensure that the fish have enough water and are not gasping for air. There should be sufficient oxygen so that they are not suffering. If for some reason the fish is not cooked immediately, it is best to transfer it to a basin or large container with enough water.

Restaurant tanks should be monitored to ensure that the fish are kept in conditions that are as stress-free as possible.

What else can I do?

  • Ask your seafood supplier, supermarket or restaurant how the seafood is killed. Do they have designated, experienced people who are in charge of killing the seafood humanely? What methods do they use? If they use methods that are inhumane, please let them know there is a better alternative or consider changing to another supplier or taking your business to another supermarket or restaurant.
  • Eat less animal products or not consume them altogether. This will ensure that fewer animals suffer because of inhumane practices.
  • If you choose to eat seafood, go for pre-killed frozen seafood.
Laboratory/Animal Testing

No To Animal Testing (Companies that Do/Don't Test on Animals)

We are opposed to all experiments or procedures which cause pain, suffering, or distress to animals.

You can help by being a caring consumer and not buying products that are tested on animals.

Check out this site for brands that DO or DO NOT test on animals.

Animal Experimentation: Laboratory Animals In Singapore

Animal Experimentation: Laboratory Animals In Singapore

We are opposed to all experiments or procedures that cause pain, suffering, or distress to animals. This is in line with the stand of leading animal organisations all over the world, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the United Kingdom (RSPCA).

National Guidelines For Laboratory Animals In Singapore


In 2003, the National Advisory Committee for Laboratory Animal Research (NACLAR) was formed to establish national guidelines for the treatment and utilisation of animals for scientific purposes in Singapore. We provided feedback on the guidelines as requested by NACLAR. We also forwarded comments and suggestions by the RSPCA to NACLAR. RSPCA and our feedback were not taken into account in the published guidelines, which we found inadequate and would lead to unnecessary suffering for the animals involved.


In February 2005, the RSPCA’s Head and Deputy Head of Research Animals Department, Ms Maggy Jennings and Ms Penny Hawkins, wrote to Professor Bernard Tan, Head of NACLAR. They stated that standards for husbandry and care of laboratory animals in Singapore were outdated. These included a lack of adequate exercise, normal social behaviour or enrichment through the use of extremely small cages.

The RSPCA advised NACLAR to seriously consider revising its guidelines to allow animals an acceptable level of welfare and improve scientific validity. The RSPCA’s Director of Science, Arthur Lindley, also appealed to Dr. Ngiam Tong Tau, (then) Chief Executive Officer of the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) expressing RSPCA’s concerns and asking for major improvements in the guidelines. We also wrote to NACLAR supporting the RSPCA’s recommendations.

The RSPCA received a highly unsatisfactory reply from Professor Tan. He said NACLAR’s guidelines were based “on the best practices of countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.”. However, as the RSPCA has maintained, these are outdated Institute for Laboratory Animal (ILAR) guidelines, which are “no way even good practice, let alone best”.


In 2006, we wrote to NACLAR to ask if there was any progress in relation to improving standards of husbandry and care for laboratory animals. There was no response.


In December 2008, we wrote again to Professor Tan, including information on the European Commission’s new guidelines for housing and care of laboratory animals. RSPCA had also provided substantial expert input to these guidelines. We asked NACLAR again to review its guidelines “to incorporate better living conditions for the animals kept in laboratories here in Singapore”. No reply was received.

At Singapore’s first Animal Welfare Symposium in 2008, it was revealed that 250,000 animals died in research in 2007 in Singapore.

In line with the three R’s – Replacement, Reduction and Refinement – we have also expressed to NACLAR that we hope steps are being taken to replace animals in research with alternative methods.


ILAR has updated their guidelines most recently in 2010 (http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Guide-Care/12910). The European Union has also adopted a directive on the protection of animals used in scientific research in the same year (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:276:0033:0079:En:PDF).


We wrote to the AVA in November 2011 to ask if the NACLAR guidelines had been updated in terms of the standards of animal husbandry. AVA replied by saying that the NACLAR Guidelines were still “current” as of the time of writing (November 2011). They said they were aware of the new developments in laboratory animal welfare guides in Europe, and would highly recommend to the NACLAR Committee to take these into consideration for the review of the NACLAR Guidelines.


To the best of our knowledge, these guidelines, which were outdated when they were enacted, have not been changed since 2004.

What Else SPCA Has Done

We have sent the book “From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse” to 13 Junior Colleges, four Polytechnics, the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University. Written by Nick Jukes and Mihnea Chiuia (and published by the International Network for Humane Education), the book, targeted at learning institutions, suggests alternatives to live animals for experimentation.

Please refer to the link below for alternatives:

We have also written several letters to the press regarding this issue.

For more information on alternatives to animal experimentation, please visit:
– RSPCA’s website – http://www.rspca.org.uk/sciencegroup/researchanimals/-/article/RAD_ResearchAnimals
– Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing – http://caat.jhsph.edu/
– Dr Hadwell Trust – http://www.drhadwentrust.org/


No To Poisoning Pigeons

Poisoning pigeons is cruel and inhumane and the SPCA urges members of the public and the Town Councils to consider humane alternative methods of bird control.

Culling of the pigeons as a means of bird population control, is not effective. A case in point is a culling programme conducted in Basel, Switzerland, a city that had a population of approximately 20,000 pigeons. From 1961 to 1985, about 100,000 pigeons were culled by shooting and trapping.

Despite this, the population remained stable (Source: Animal Aid, UK).

In comparison, in 1988 a group called Pigeon Action was founded to provide an ecological and long-term solution to Basel’s pigeon issue. They implemented a programme of public education campaigns, which warned against feeding pigeons, and installed pigeon lofts from which eggs were removed.

As a result, the population was halved within four years.

In 2008, the SPCA attended a scene of pigeon poisoning, where we retrieved several birds that were reported unconscious and others that were having difficulty flying. Had they been left in the environment in this state, they would have been susceptible to road accidents or been attacked by predators. Being disposed of in bags to suffocate, while still alive, was an additional issue in this case, that SPCA had to deal with.

Poisoning puts other species at risk too (no matter what precautions are taken) and the case of the deaths of cats and birds at Pasir Ris Park reported in the media in July 2015 comes to mind.

It is evident that culling, and specifically poisoning, is an inhumane method of animal management. Performing the exercise in a public place and leaving dying birds in plain sight of the public (including young children) may also desensitized people to the very act of killing and the suffering of the animals.

There are many other humane alternatives to averting pigeons like using B-ST, a bird-control gel-type solution that is reportedly among the most efficient and innovative in the Japanese market (http://bird-deterrent.com.sg/solutions.php) and being used in Singapore currently.

No To Releasing Animals on Vesak Day (Why It Does More Harm Than Good)

Turtles, fish, and birds are usually freed at temples, reservoirs, ponds, parks, and beaches as a symbolic gesture of compassion on Vesak Day, the day that celebrates Buddha’s birth and his enlightenment.

While we are grateful for such kind intentions and thoughts, freeing animals does more harm than good.

  • The process of release could be stressful for the animals.
    • Many pet shop animals cannot survive in the wild as they no longer have the ability to find food and shelter on their own. They are also used to living in special habitats, so releasing an animal into the wrong habitat will cause it to suffer and die.
  • Releasing foreign animals into our environment disrupts the balance of our local ecosystem.
    • Foreign animals who are not indigenous to our country will compete with our local wild animals for food, shelter, nesting areas, and living space. This threatens the natural balance of our local ecosystem.
  • Foreign animals may transmit diseases to other wild animals.
    • Indigenous local animals may not have immunity against certain diseases carried by infected foreign animals. If wild animals are infected, these foreign diseases may be transmited to humans.

In Singapore, it is against the law to release any animal into our public parks, reservoirs, nature reserves and other places. Those caught releasing animals can be fined up to $50 000, jailed for up to 6 months, or a combination of both.

No To Keeping Wild Animals as Pets

Snakes, star tortoises, iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions, salamanders, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, slow lorises, and gibbons are examples of wild pets.

Keeping wild animals as pets is banned in Singapore. The sale or (even display) of these animals is an offense under Singapore law.

Under the Wild Animals and Birds Act, any person who kills, takes or keeps any wild animal or bird (other than those specified in the Schedule) without a license shall be guilty of an offense.

 Why should we not keep them as pets?

  • They may introduce and spread diseases to humans and domestic animals.
  • Threatens the survival of endangered species.
  • Causes many wild animals to suffer and die.

For example, to capture baby orangutans, poachers kill their mothers who may protect them. It also makes the poacher’s job easier because instead of running away, the baby orangutans cling to their mothers’ dead body in fright.

  • The welfare of the animals may be compromised due to reasons such as unsuitable living conditions, poor diet, and pet owner’s lack of knowledge of the proper care for the animal.

For example, Star Tortoises are terrestrial. This means they live on land only and cannot swim. The Star Tortoise is particularly sensitive and fragile. The species is extremely sensitive to respiratory problems if kept in conditions that are too cold or too damp.

  • Many wild animals die while they are being transported in poor conditions.

No To Whale Sharks & Dolphins In Captivity

Read about our whale shark campaign here.

Read about our Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) dolphin campaign here.

No To Kampung Fishing

We have received feedback from parents that the fish used in these kampung settings for children to fish often get killed or injured as children wade in the pool and step on them. Some of these fish also die from trauma due to the children’s lack of knowledge in handling. The small nets and plastic pails used during this activity exposes these delicate creatures to an extreme amount of stress.

These fish become pets acquired on impulse in an atmosphere of excitement, without any consideration for the animals’ care once the children leave the kampung.

Often, such settings allow children to take the fish home in plastic bags or ill-equipped plastic containers that are not suitable for sustaining the fish’s life. Because these animals are not well taken care of, they usually die shortly after, either on the way home or very soon after they’re brought home.

Participating in such activities gives our children the impression that living things can be regarded as playthings for amusement.

Contrary to what such settings may claim to instill in children, this does not teach our future generations to respect life.

Instead of trying to educate our children through this cruel sport, we can take our child on trips to visit local animal shelters, nature reserves (e.g. Sungei Buloh, Bukit Timah, etc.) or pond habitats to observe animals in their undisturbed natural environment.

Teachers can also invite local animal welfare groups to their schools to give talks or workshops for the children; some of these local animal welfare groups (e.g. the SPCA or ACRES) have existing education programmes, and can sometimes bring along an animal for a short interaction session with the students.

Help us stop this hidden form of animal cruelty. There are many other ways to teach your child how to love the environment and respect life.

SPCA Campaigns

Join our advocacy work by raising awareness for such issues within our community.

SPCA Launches ‘Teach With Kindness’ Campaign To Address Cruelty In Training

Teach With Kindness #ChooseForceFree SPCA Singapore’s new initiative, ‘Teach with Kindness’, is a movement that aims to spark community conversations on better regulation in the animal training industry. Scroll down to find out how you can help us! Keeping in the spirit of World Animal Day (4 October 2020), the initiative seeks to promote humane, […]

SPCA Campaigns: NO To Whale Sharks In Captivity.

Whale Shark Campaign in Singapore Whale sharks may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of us, but this animal has been on our radar for quite some time. When Resorts World Sentosa announced in 2006 that a whale shark would be procured and displayed, we joined forces with Nature […]

SPCA Campaigns: Say NO To Fur Products

Fur is for animal – SPCA says “NO” to fur produces. We are partnering CFAF (Change for Animals Foundation) and ACRES (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) to raise public awareness about the cruelty inherent in all fur production. We are encouraging all our supporters and members of the general public to urge retailers in the country […]

SPCA Campaigns: Stop Puppy Mill Misery

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Many of these facilities mass-produce puppies under substandard conditions; dogs live in cramped, deplorable environments and many of them are diseased and deprived of proper nutrition, medical attention, companionship and socialisation. Poor breeding practices often result […]

SPCA Campaigns: ‘NO’ To Dolphins In Captivity

UPDATE: SPCA joins Animals For Asia to speak against the development of a dolphinarium in Da Nang, Vietnam. See letter and petition to support the cause.  SPCA calls on Resort World Sentosa (RWS) to release remaining 23 dolphins 4 June 2014: Channel News Asia: SPCA calls on RWS to release remaining 23 dolphins4 June 2014: The Straits Times: SPCA calls for […]

Love is Ageless

SPCA Singapore is proud to have embarked on a two-month long campaign with collaborator Hill’s Pet Nutrition Singapore, which ran from September to October 2014. Fittingly named “Love is Ageless”, this campaign was aimed at promoting an appreciation as well as deeper understanding of senior pet/companion animals and of the timelessness of the love, joy […]

Desex In The City

In an effort to reduct unwanted puppies and kittens, the SPCA embarked on a month long initiative in December 2009 to offer pet owners subsidised sterilisation for their cats and dogs, in collaboration with veterinary clinics.  For the past 18 years, the SPCA has also distributed free sterilisation vouchers, which enable people to have stray animals […]

There’s No Better Friend. Adopt A Dog

In mid-May to mid-June 2009, SPCA launched a series of adoption ads at bus shelters and on ZoCards. The objective was to promote the adoption of dogs while emphasising their companionable nature. The ads also appeared on 8-Days, I-S Magazines, TODAY, The New Paper and The Sunday Times. SPCA thanks Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore for […]

The People Behind SPCA

Very little is seen or know about the work carried out by hard-working inspectors, animal rescue officers,  education officers, and animal care assistants. So in 2006 and 2007, the SPCA featured our staff to illustrate the services (see above) that we offer and seek support for kindness to animals.