Follow-Up: Survey on Pet Shops and Pet Farms

In a follow up to animal welfare group’s previous survey on pet shops and pet farms in October 2010, a second survey was carried out in November 2011. This time round, 22 premises were surveyed in total, 9 shops and 13 farms.

We are encouraged at some positive results (better conditions in areas of hygiene and flooring) which  we attribute to stepped up enforcement by AVA,  but problems still persist (e.g. shops and farms still don’t license puppies even though AVA regulations clearly state they must).  Water bottles are still  preferred over water bowls but dogs are equipped with a tongue to lap.

Of serious concern though, is the fact that none of our potential buyers were questioned on their knowledge of dog care. This is certainly reflective of the shop/farm representatives’ lack of concern for the future well-being of the dogs they are selling. Although a compulsory pet care course is imposed on shops and farms’ employees, those surveyed did not seem to be following through and applying it in their work place.

Here are the key findings:

  • Conditions

– Hygiene was found to be satisfactory in 100% of premises surveyed
– 82% of premises were found to have suitable flooring in their cages (last year it was 46%)

  • Licensing

– At least 3 of the 9 shops surveyed gave the impression that they were willing to sell a large breed to our volunteer. And they said that the volunteer could appeal to AVA for an exemption
– 73% of shops/farms that were asked (11/15) were not going to help license puppies that were sold
– One of the shops had a notice on their desk issued by AVA which stated that pet shops must apply for the license for buyers. Even when shopper pointed this out, the shop attendant did not seem to understand that it is their duty to apply for the license.
– One farm said, don’t apply never mind, as long as neighbours don’t complain.
– One farm said they wont help with licensing because need owners IC, very troublesome.

  • Pet care

– When asked if dogs need to be walked, one attendant said “no need to walk” and “small breeds don’t really need exercise”.
– 69% of shops/farms (9/13) did not show concern that the buyer was going to cage the puppy
– 0% of shops/farms (0/16) questioned the buyer’s knowledge of dog care – this is of serious concern to SPCA  because many dog owners we come across in our daily investigative work, show a lack of care for their animals (e.g. dogs caged or tied for long periods with minimal socialisation and exercise).  If buyers are not educated sufficiently on the need to provide proper care, it may result in the animal’s welfare  being  compromised.

  • Parents of puppies

– When asked to see the puppy’s parents, one shop said “no one in Singapore does that”. Another said “breeders are too busy”.

The SPCA has forwarded the results of the survey to the AVA  expressing its concerns on the importance of licensing at the point of sale.  If there was strict enforcement (e.g. mandatory licensing at point of sale for breeders/sellers), it would close up the loopholes and  help prevent abandonment which is a common problem. It would also help the authorities in their efforts to keep Singapore a rabies free country.

The SPCA also expressed its concern to AVA on the need for those selling dogs to impart some of their knowledge (gained from the mandatory animal care course at Temasek Polytechnic) to their customers, in the interest of responsible dog ownership.

“It’s a better dog’s life now…”  a Special Report in S.T. Saturday 27 August,  highlighted active citizenry, and how things are improving all round for puppy mill dogs. It told of animal lovers and animal welfare groups speaking up against the cruelty present in puppy mills (two high profile cases where operators were prosecuted were also highlighted), with the latter drawing up suggested improvements in animal welfare standards for these establishments.

For many dogs that have been bought commercially however, life is not better. SPCA’s Inspectors are looking into complaints of canines  allegedly kept in poor conditions such as close confinement (by leash or in cages). Lack of socialization and interaction is also rife in many pet dog’s lives. As much as there may have been initiatives by the government to improve standards of animal welfare in recent years, stronger enforcement for improving the quality of life of many pet dogs (such as those pictured here)  is needed.

The news in the article  that one breeder has 500 breeding dogs, was indeed an eye opener – in our densely populated environment, SPCA is of the opinion that there should be a limit imposed on the number of dogs bred and sold commercially. When there is a surplus of animals on sale (stemming from a free market policy) , it encourages impulse buying. With minimal education at the point of sale, dogs and other pets end up becoming no more than consumer items, and when the novelty wears off, they become victims of neglect.

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