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Animal rights groups urge better oversight after dog death

SINGAPORE — The deadly use of a modified dog trap by an Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) contractor on Thursday has led to calls from animal welfare groups for greater adherence to protocol and for training to be conducted for animal control contractors.

Animal rights groups urge better oversight after dog death

The AVA said the dog trap used by
the contractor had been modified and was not approved for use. Photo: Facebook

SINGAPORE — The deadly use of a modified dog trap by an Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) contractor on Thursday has led to calls from animal welfare groups for greater adherence to protocol and for training to be conducted for animal control contractors.

The AVA issued a statement yesterday in response to a video of a dead dog posted on social media. The stray dog was said to have been killed in a dog control operation at Ang Mo Kio Ave 5.

The authority said the trap used by its contractor had been modified and was not approved for use. It will be taking action against the contractor for non-compliance, its spokesperson said. Post-mortem results of the dog’s body are pending.

The contractor had used a modified collarum trap in the operation, which was in response to complaints about stray dogs in the area. Such traps are commonly used in Australia and the United Kingdom, and are approved by the AVA, said the spokesperson, who did not name the contractor or elaborate on how the trap had been modified.

The contractor was also required to monitor the trap to ensure any trapped animal is quickly removed, but had failed to do so. The contractor was deployed on Thursday afternoon and the AVA was informed on the same night that a dog had been killed.

Before this, the AVA had not received feedback on unapproved traps being used in dog control operations. An AVA vet checks the condition of trapped animals — which are euthanised as a last resort if they cannot be rehomed — when the authority receives them from its contractors, the spokesperson said.

Dog traps are necessary to trap dogs for purposes that include sterilisation, but not all traps are safe, said Dr Siew Tuck Wah, president of animal welfare group Save Our Street Dogs. The trap used involved a mechanism that trapped the dog’s head when it went for the food bait, and required the operator to be vigilant and quickly release a trapped dog to prevent any risk of strangulation, he said.

Dr Siew called for better regulation of traps to prevent further tragedy.

Other animal welfare groups said contractors should be trained — on top of guidelines jointly developed by the AVA and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) that they have to follow — to ensure they do their jobs properly.

Action for Singapore Dogs president Ricky Yeo suggested contractors wear surveillance devices such as small cameras on the job, to resolve differing accounts when incidents occur. Contractors should also show their letter of authorisation to conduct operations when asked by members of the public, he said.

Mr Yeo acknowledged that the AVA may feel compelled to act in the interest of public safety when complaints arise, but said there should be more discernment when trapping dogs and the right methods should be used.

SPCA executive director Corinne Fong headed to the site on Thursday night after receiving a call from a dog feeder who witnessed the incident. The SPCA will be looking into the matter, both independently and with the AVA.

Ms Fong said animal control operations should complement the work of rescuers and feeders who help to sterilise the animals, and there could be more communication so the efforts of the latter group to control the population are not undone when the animals are rounded up.

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