New standards for pet industry to kick in from October

Today Online 12 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE — To raise animal welfare standards in Singapore, a code for the pet industry — which incorporates pet groomers, pet retailers and even pet boarder businesses — will be introduced by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

To kick in from Oct 1, the Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Industry) spells out minimum standards on housing, managing and caring for animals, and pet businesses are expected to comply with them.

It also lists best practices in these areas that pet businesses are encouraged to adopt.

Failure to meet a minimum standard under the code is not an offence, but such incidents can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement actions in animal welfare cases, the AVA said in a press release issued on Thursday (Aug 11).

The code comes two years after the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee for Animal Welfare (MSCC) submitted a draft.

It will apply to all businesses dealing with pets, or goods and services for pets, including those not licensed by the AVA.

Last year, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) also submitted to the AVA its findings from an undercover operation, showing that several pet shops had failed to meet licensing conditions, which include providing adequately sized enclosures for dogs and cats, proper flooring conditions and sufficient clean drinking water.

The new minimum standards for pet retailers now include ensuring that animals kept and displayed for sale must be from legal sources that demonstrate compliance with regulations and accepted standards of breeding and sale.

The code’s suggested best practices go a step further, encouraging retailers to ensure there is documentation to show that the animal’s grandparents have been tested, where possible, to ensure the pets sold are free of genetic problems.

For pet boarding businesses, they must meet the minimum standard of securing areas for dogs to exercise under supervision, as well ensuring that there are separate rooms for food storage. The animals must also be provided with fresh drinking water at all times.

Best practices they could adopt include allowing all dogs to exercise or be walked at least twice a day on a leash, for at least half an hour each time. Pet businesses will be given a grace period of six months to comply, from Oct 1.

This means that during this time, any violations of the code will not be used as supporting evidence when prosecuting animal welfare offences.

The AVA will be inviting pet businesses and other relevant stakeholders for briefings on the code, and it is also considering another recommendation by the MSCC: A training curriculum for the pet industry.

The proposal is for operators and staff members of pet-related businesses to undergo mandatory training on animal care and handling, and it would cover topics such as animal welfare legislation, licensing requirements and business management.

Cat Welfare Society committee member Veron Lau, 44, said that these are “baby steps” towards better animal welfare, adding that more could be done, such as microchipping at source for cats on sale as part of the licensing requirements.

On the point that there would be no penalties when the minimum standards are not met, she called on greater enforcement on the ground and urged consumers to be alert: “It still boils down to enforcement, and for the public to highlight what they see in the shops that should be improved … to ensure the industry is well-monitored … This is not the final word, because society will continue to progress and people will become more aware (of animal welfare).”

Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals here, said that the code is a “good starting point” and ideally, as the industry adjusts to new standards, the legislation should be changed so that those who fail to adhere to the code would face enforcement action, and best practices become the minimum requirements.

MSCC chairman Alex Yam, who is also a Member of Parliament, said that the process involved many stakeholders, and the committee needed to ensure the code is “robust and yet fair, balancing the protection of welfare of animals but not making it an overwhelming (burden) on (the) industry”.


AVA issues new code of animal welfare for pet industry
Channel NewsAsia 11 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has issued a new code of animal welfare for the pet industry which will take effect from Oct 1, it said in a press release on Thursday (Aug 11).

The Code of Animal Welfare, developed by a Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee (MSCC) chaired by Member of Parliament (MPs) Alex Yam, are based on recommendations issued by the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee (AWLRC) in March last year.

The MSCC, established in October 2013, comprises MPs and representatives from the animal welfare groups, hobbyists, pet industry, community, veterinary profession and AVA.

The code specifies minimum standards on animal housing, management and care, which pet businesses are expected to comply with as well as best practices on animal housing, management and care which pet businesses are encouraged to adopt to "further raise the standard of animal welfare in Singapore", AVA said in the release.

The authority added that the code applies to all businesses that offer pets or goods and services for pets, including those not licensed by AVA.

"Although failure to meet a minimum standard in the code is not an offence, it can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement actions for animal welfare cases," it said.

AVA added that pet businesses will be given a grace period of six months, until Mar 31, 2017 to comply with the rules, during which the code will not be used as supporting evidence to prosecute animal welfare offences. However, the authority will continue to take enforcement action where there is direct evidence of animal welfare and cruelty contraventions, it stated.

TRAINING CURRICULUM UP FOR CONSIDERATION

Separately, the MSCC submitted its recommendation for the curriculum on mandatory training on animal care and handling for operators and staff of pet-related businesses. The recommendations, which are for AVA's consideration and subsequent implementation, cover legislation and licensing requirements, basic knowledge for management of pet businesses and guidelines on care, housing and nutrition, as well as transport for different species and breeds of animals.

Like the Code of Animal Welfare, the development of the training curriculum was one of the 24 recommendations by the AWLRC to improve animal welfare in Singapore released in March last year.

MSCC said its recommendations on the training curriculum were drafted with the intent to ensure operators and workers in the pet industry have the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfil their duty of care to animals under their charges.

The recommended training curriculum is intended for any person who works in the pet industry, and is involved in the care and handing of animals, providing an overview of the basic knowledge and skills needed for the care and handling of animals with a focus on ensuring animal welfare, it added.

The committee also said a "consultative approach" was taken in the drafting of the curriculum recommendations, taking into consideration the views of representatives from various stakeholder groups. The set of recommendations put forth by MSCC to AVA reflects a "balanced outcome" arising from those discussions, it added.

Commenting on the curriculum recommendations made by MSCC as well as the code issued by AVA, Mr Yam said he was "confident" these measures would be "instrumental in helping pet businesses fulfil their duty of care to animals under their charge and enhance overall animal welfare standards".

- CNA/mz


New guidelines for pet businesses from October
AsiaOne 11 Aug 16;

Pet-related businesses operating in Singapore will soon have to comply with some animal welfare standards.

The new Code of Animal Welfare issued by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will come into effect on Oct 1, and is applicable to all businesses that offer pets, or goods and services for pets.


While it is not an offence to violate the provisions within the code, it can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement actions for animal welfare cases, AVA explained in a statement.

Pet businesses will be given a grace period of six months, from Oct 1, 2016 to Mar 31, 2017, to comply with the code, which was adapted from a draft submitted by the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee for Animal Welfare.

"The code gives pet businesses an official guideline on their responsibilities to the animals under their charge," Ms Tan Poh Hong, AVA chief executive officer, said.

The code comprises minimum standards on animal housing, management and care that all pet businesses are expected to comply with, as well as best practices which businesses are encouraged to adopt.

For instance, the code spells out guidelines for pet businesses in the following areas:

For all pet businesses:

1. Proper management of pet businesses - with regard to accountability of owners, record keeping, pest control and security of animals.

2. Animal housing and environment - ensures animals are housed and kept in an environment which is sufficiently sheltered, safe, clean and comfortable.

3. Management of animals - covers aspects such as diet and feeding, food preparation, provision of water, activities to promote the animals' general well-being, and handling and transportation of animals.

4. Animal healthcare - includes health checks, keeping animals' health records, disease prevention and provision of veterinary attention and treatment.

For specific species of pets

Minimum standards and best practices specific to dogs, cats, small mammals and birds.

A minimum standard for businesses is to ensure that cold climate dog breeds, such as Siberian Huskies or Chow Chows, are given adequate shade and good fan ventilation or air-conditioning so that their environment is kept cool and less humid.

For pet retailing

Animals kept and displayed for sale must be from legal sources, and there should be no selling of unhealthy or diseased animals.

For pet grooming

All groomers must be adequately trained, and pet owners must be notified if an animal becomes unwell while under the care of a groomer.

For pet breeding

Proper records must be kept for breeding animals and their offspring, and all animals must be physically fit, healthy and free of disease prior to mating.

For pet boarding

All animals accepted for boarding must be identified, and their owners' contact information made available upon request by AVA, and all animals must be provided with adequate shade and shelter.

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