What We Advocate

What We Advocate

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. 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.

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.

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.

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 cheap 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. 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. 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.

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 policies 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.

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.

In November 2018, the authorities launched the five-year Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage (TNRM) programme, with SPCA being the lead Animal Welfare Group. The target for this programme is to sterilise more than 70% of the stray dog population in Singapore within five years. 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 shop. Tell your family and friends to choose adoption and only adopt when they are ready for the commitment
  • Have your pet(s) sterilised
  • Help sterilise a community animal
  • Voice your concern to the government about unrestricted commercial breeding and sale of pets

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), now AVS – 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 NParks (AVS) at https://www.nparks.gov.sg/feedback-and-enquiry

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.
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 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 damage 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 their furever homes.