AVS proposes new licensing conditions for dog breeders & pet boarders, open to public feedback till July 31

New rules seek to protect animal welfare and ensure greater accountability from breeders and boarders.

Fiona Tan | July 08, 2021, 10:36 AM

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The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) has proposed a revision in the licensing standards for the pet breeding and boarding industries in Singapore on July 1.

The pet breeding and boarding sectors are part of the first phase of the pet sector review in August 2019, after the operator of a dog boarding facility Platinium Dog Club was found mistreating dogs.

AVS said that these proposed revisions took reference from overseas standards such as the UK. They had sought opinions from local industry stakeholders and members of the public too.

Another round of public consultation is now open till July 31 before the revision is confirmed.

Revisions for breeding industry

The breeding sector in Singapore consists of 20 licensed breeder on farmlands in Sungei Tengah, according to AVS, a cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks).

To raise the standards of animal health and welfare and accountability of breeders in Singapore, AVS has identified a few key areas for revision and they are as follows:

Healthcare and well-being

Dog breeders will be mandated to conduct daily and annual health checks for breeding dogs and their litters.

Any signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour of each dog must be recorded. It is also compulsory for breeders to seek advice of a veterinarian if these abnormalities are observed.

Some symptoms that require immediate veterinary attention are breathing difficulties, severe vomiting and diarrhoea, bleeding, and sudden lameness.

AVS will also explicitly list the core vaccinations against common infectious dog diseases that must be administered to the animals.

In addition, daily cleaning and disinfection of kennels are mandated.

Traceability and record keeping

Breeders are required to have stringent record keeping for the dogs under their care.

They must document the proof of vaccinations, annual health checks, veterinary treatments and any other form of surgical procedures for animals under their care. Additional information on breeding dams or during whelping has to be recorded too.

If any dogs under their care are moved from the farm to other premises, such movements have to be recorded as well.

These records have to be kept for at least two years and produced upon request during AVS inspections.

Welfare of breeding dogs

AVS will specific conditions under which dogs can be bred.

In-breeding will not be allowed and dogs with harmful heritable conditions will not be allowed to breed under the new conditions.

Some examples of harm heritable conditions include Brachycephalic syndrome, epilepsy, degenerative myelopathy, hip dysplasia and urinary bladder stones.

Each breeding dog is not allowed to breed more than one litter per year, according to AVS.

In addition, all breeding dogs above the age of six must be retired. The dog also has to be sterilised within six months after turning six years old.

Dogs should not be confined all the time

It is also compulsory for dog breeders to ensure animals under their care have sufficient social interaction and enrichment through specific conditions.

Dog breeders must provide their animals with opportunities to socialise with humans and other animals.

This can be done through providing secured areas for exercise and interaction-based activities at least once a day.

Revisions for boarding industry

According to AVS, new boarder specific conditions will be implemented and applied to commercial boarding facilities.

Guidelines on boarding facilities have been unclear. Unlike pet farms, commercial boarding facilities like pet hotels are not subject to spot-checks or comply to licensing conditions.

Currently, only five commercial boarders operating on farmlands are licensed, but under the breeding licensing conditions.

Besides stipulating specific boarding conditions, more animals, such as cats and other small mammals, will also be included.

AVS said that this is to ensure higher standards of care for all boarding animals and greater accountability by boarders.

The revised licensed boarding conditions cover areas like health and disease management, space allocation and staff training.

About 50 commercial pet boarders will have to be licensed once the new regulations kick in.

Health and disease management

Under the new conditions, only vaccinated animals, with no transmissible diseases, can be accepted.

Animal boarders will be required to conduct daily health checks for animals under their care.

There will also be a specific list of conditions that require immediate veterinary attention.

An isolation area has to be created to separate unwell animals from the rest to prevent the spread of disease if immediate veterinary attention is not available.

Appropriate space allocation

Under the revised conditions, the dimensions and specification for animal's living space will be specified.

The conditions also specify the types of suitable housing for all animals such as dogs, cats, and small mammals.

Pet boarders have to ensure appropriate space is allocated to animals to ensure no fights.

Training and accountability

There will be mandatory training and refresher courses for boarders and staff members who care for the animals.

In the event of serious injury or death of any animals during boarding, the staff must inform AVS and pet owner immediately.

Records of such incidents must also be maintained.

New licensing conditions to be implemented in 2022

After the public consultation, the licensing conditions for breeders and boarders will be finalised in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Breeders and boarders will be given six months to make the necessary adjustments before the full conditions are implemented, likely in the second quarter of 2022.

Group director for industry and biosecurity management at AVS, Chua Tze Hoong said unannounced inspections will take place “at least once a year” to ensure the compliance of those involved.

Penalties, such as letters of warning, compensation fines, prosecution in court or license suspension, will be doled out to those who fail to adhere to the new conditions under the Animals and Birds Act.

At the launch of the public consultation, Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How said: "With the rise of pet ownership in Singapore, I am sure members of the public will be keen to have a view about how their pets are bred or boarded."

Members of the public can submit their feedback here before July 31.

Top image from National Parks Board/Facebook