Bill tabled in Parliament to stiffen penalties against animal abusers
SINGAPORE — If proposed changes to the Animals and Birds Act are passed, first-time offenders under the tiered penalty structure could be fined up to S$15,000, or jailed for up to 18 months, or both. Those in animal-related businesses face heftier punishments for animal cruelty: Up to S$40,000 in fines or jail not exceeding two years, or both, for a convicted first offender.
More than a year after the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee (AWLRC) submitted their recommendations on animal welfare to the Government, Members of Parliament tabled a bill to amend the Animals and Birds Act today (Oct 7) which included harsher penalties for those convicted of acts of animal cruelty.
Under the present Animals and Birds Act, anyone convicted of animal cruelty can be fined up to S$10,000 or jailed for up to a year or both.
In a media statement released today, chairman of the AWLRC and MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Yeo Guat Kwang noted that it has been a long process in translating the committee’s recommendations to legislations.
“It is important to balance the varied interests of the community and prioritise having a harmonious living environment for animals and animal lovers on one hand, and those who may not be comfortable with animals on the other,” he said.
Besides harsher penalties, the proposed amendments will also require staff working with animals in animal-related businesses to be trained in animal care and handling.
In addition, the proposed amendments will also adopt a code of animal welfare, which spells out the “duty of care” of animal owners. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure the animal is provided with adequate food, water and shelter for instance. And in cases where the animal is missing, the owner must take reasonable efforts to find the animal, among other things.
In May, a businessman was fined S$10,000, the maximum given for animal cruelty, for failing to seek timely treatment for his pet. It was the first time the maximum fine has been imposed by the court for animal cruelty.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported that individuals who are first-time offenders could be fined up to S$40,000 and/or jailed up to two years, while subsequent offenders could be fined up to S$100,000 and/or jailed up to three years, under proposed changes to the Animals and Birds Act. This is incorrect. These proposed penalties are applicable to offenders who are in animal-related businesses, and not individuals.