Tightened licensing rules for pet boarders, breeders after 2-year review

·Editorial Team
·4 min read
Charlotte Liew (centre), owner of pet hotel Platinium Dogs Club, was 2 weeks for failing to ensure that an animal is provided with adequate and suitable food and water. At least two dogs died following stays at the Pet Hotel.
Charlotte Liew (centre), owner of pet hotel Platinium Dogs Club, was 2 weeks for failing to ensure that an animal is provided with adequate and suitable food and water. At least two dogs died following stays at the Pet Hotel. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman, Joanne Png, Elaine Mao)

SINGAPORE — From 1 April next year, those who breed pets for sale will be required to do daily health checks for breeding pets and their litters, as part of a tightening of licensing conditions for pet breeders and boarders.

The Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) also said in a media release on Friday (8 October) that pet breeders and boarders must provide their animals with opportunities for social interaction, exercise and enrichment. These pet services must also maintain documentary proof of vaccinations, annual health checks, veterinary treatment or surgical procedures.

Pet boarders will be required to accept only vaccinated animals which are healthy, and they must provide sufficient space for animals at their facilities.

All staff members who are responsible for the day-to-day running of the boarding premises and care of animals must undergo training to ensure they are suitably equipped to handle the boarded animals.

"Staff are required to immediately report to AVS and inform the pet owner, should there be any incident of serious injury or death within the boarding facility. Records of such incidents must also be maintained," AVS added.

Cases of pets that died at boarding facilities

These changes come in the aftermath of several cases involving pets that died at boarding facilities in Singapore.

The most high-profile case involved the death of Prince, a seven-year-old Shetland sheepdog, who was boarded at Platinium Dogs Club in January 2019. His owner could not establish the cause of his death as he was cremated after he died in a pet hotel. At least two dogs died following a stay at the pet hotel's Bukit Panjang premises.

The owner of the pet hotel, Charlotte Liew, was sentenced to two weeks' jail and fined $35,700 on 31 August.

The Straits Times also reported that Garfield, a one-year-old Maltese, died after swimming at Tanjong Beach on Sentosa with 16 other dogs in 2019, while under the care of seven handlers from pet boarding and daycare company Board N' Play.

More requirements for pet breeders

Besides changes in licensing conditions for pet boarders, there are also sweeping rule changes for pet breeders.

Breeding dogs can only be used to produce a maximum of one litter every year, and they must be retired when they turn six. In-breeding is also not allowed.

The dogs must be sterilised within six months of retirement, and licensees will need to ensure there is post-retirement care for retired breeding pets, either in continuing to care for them on the farm or rehoming them.

AVS added that breeders must also maintain a record of dogs that have died on the premises, including their age, date and cause of death.

For dogs that die above 21 days in age, a pet farm must issue a death certificate which should be kept at the premises for at least one year from the date a death is registered for AVS' inspection. The probable, presumed or determined cause of death, where applicable, must be clearly stated on all death certificates issued.

Pet sector review since August 2019

AVS had embarked on the pet sector review to improve animal welfare in August 2019, with the pet breeding and boarding sectors identified as key priorities.

It has conducted five focus group discussions, two public consultation sessions with almost 6,000 responses received, and nine engagement sessions with industry stakeholders, to formulate the updated set of licensing conditions.

Following this set of licensing changes, AVS will be launching a one-month online public consultation from Saturday to seek feedback on dog rehoming and adoption practices, including dog training-related issues. 

The pet sector review comes amid a growing number of pet shops and businesses in Singapore. In 2018, there were 68,000 dog licenses issued to businesses and 251 pet shops. In 2020, the number went up to 72,000 dog licenses and 300 pet shops.

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