Following numerous public consultations, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks), has reviewed the licensing conditions for pet breeders and commercial pet boarding facilities.
Pet breeders and boarders will thus face tightened licensing conditions from Apr. 1, 2022, that prohibit practices such as inbreeding, breeding pets with known harmful heritable conditions, and mandating post-retirement care for breeding dogs.
Public consultations with pet owners and industry stakeholders
The changes were made as part of the Pet Sector Review started in Aug. 2019, where the pet breeding and boarding sectors were identified as a key priority for review, according to AVS in a media briefing on Oct. 8.
This comes on top of the rising trend in pet ownership and a steady increase in the number of licensed dogs and pet shops.
Three areas identified for focus during the Review were breeding, boarding and traceability.
To formulate an updated set of licensing conditions, five focus group discussions, two public consultation sessions with almost 6,000 responses received, and nine engagement sessions with industry stakeholders have since been conducted.
The most recent public consultation concluded on July 31, 2021, which involved around 750 respondents, 85 per cent of which were pet owners.
According to AVS, results showed that the respondents were "highly supportive" of efforts to tighten the licensing conditions for pet breeding and boarding facilities.
Updated licensing conditions for breeders
The revised licensing conditions for pet breeders span several key areas — welfare of breeding dogs, their socialisation and enrichment, their diet and healthcare, and traceability and record-keeping.
Some of the finalised conditions include:
- Prohibition of in-breeding
- Prohibition of breeding dogs with known harmful heritable conditions
- Limiting the frequency of breeding at no more than one litter per year
- Sterilisation of retired breeding dogs within six months after retirement
- Carrying out post-retirement care for breeding dogs either through rehoming or continued care on the farm
- Providing secure areas for dogs not only for exercise, but for social interactions and enrichment.
Other conditions also mandate that breeders are required to regularly clean and disinfect kennels, conduct regular health checks on breeding dogs, and have stringent record keeping of all breeding dogs and litters.
These revisions are aligned with overseas standards in Australia and the UK, and will ensure better welfare for breeding dogs.
Updated licensing conditions for pet boarders
AVS' new licensing conditions will soon cover all commercial boarding facilities for pets, and will also include more animals such as cats and other small mammals.
Previously, only five commercial boarders on farmlands were licensed.
Some of the finalised conditions include:
- No boarding of sick animals with transmissible diseases
- Daily health checks
- Staff to undergo mandatory training and refresher courses
- The immediate report to AVS on any incident of serious injury or death of any animals while in the boarding facility
The Apr. 2022 date, when the conditions will take effect, was chosen to give breeding and boarding industries ample time of six months to make any adjustments to the new conditions, AVS explained.
In the meantime, AVS will work closely with them to facilitate the implementation of the conditions.
Every licensed breeder will continue to be inspected at least once a year, and additional inspections will be conducted if breaches are found during previous inspections or when AVS receives feedback on any licensed breeder.
New public consultation on dog rehoming and adoption
Another key area of the Pet Sector Review is dog rehoming and adoption practices.
As such, AVS will be carrying out a month-long public consultation starting from Oct. 9 on the issue.
Members of the public can participate in an online survey which can be accessed here.
The survey will cover topics such as training-related issues, the adoption process, managing dogs with behavioural issues, and raising the standards of the dog training industry.
These findings will be collated alongside previous group discussions, and incorporated into new guidelines which are expected to be finalised by the end of 2021.
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