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5 pet farms, 1 pet shop still flouting welfare guidelines, ACRES finds

SINGAPORE — A follow-up undercover investigation by the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) has found that animal welfare standards in pet shops and farms have improved.

5 pet farms, 1 pet shop still flouting welfare guidelines, ACRES finds

Some pet shops improved conditions, such as placing mats over mesh and giving animals more space (top two pictures). But 1 pet shop (bottom left) and some farms (bottom right) still failed to provide basic animal welfare. Photos: ACRES

SINGAPORE — Several months after they were found to be flouting guidelines on basic animal welfare, five pet farms and one pet shop are still failing to provide their animals with adequate living conditions, an investigation by Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) showed.

Four other pet shops that complied with providing their animals with adequate living conditions in the first probe failed to do so the second time.

The latest undercover operation was conducted by the non-governmental organisation between October and early this month, as a follow-up to a similar investigation in May, to determine if errant pet shops and farms had mended their ways.

Following the May investigations, 11 of 29 pet shops and 10 of 12 pet farms were found to have failed to follow the basic animal welfare guidelines laid out in the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) Pet Shop Licence Conditions. These include giving the animals sufficient space in enclosures and making sure no pregnant or nursing animals are on display.

Among the findings of the follow-up probe, one pet shop was found to have flouted the guidelines despite being given the top grade under the AVA Pet Shop Grading Scheme. At the shop, six cages with animals did not contain any drinking water, while two cages were too narrow.

Two of the 10 errant pet farms have closed down.

In response to TODAY’s queries on the positive grading for the pet shop that had flouted the guidelines, an AVA spokesperson said it reviews grades at the point of licence renewal and when a pet shop is compounded for non-compliance of conditions, “with the severity of the non-compliance and its immediate and direct impact on animal welfare taken into consideration”.

He added: “In general, pet shops with poorer grades are inspected more frequently as compared to pet shops with better grades. Additional inspections are also carried out in response to public feedback on animal welfare issues. All inspections of pet shops are unannounced.”

The spokesperson also said that AVA will follow up with its investigation on ACRES’ latest findings.

“Enforcement actions will be taken against pet shops/pet farms that do not comply with licensing conditions, which can range from warning letters to fines to suspension of licences to revocation of licences,” he added.

The latest investigation showed that there have been improvements in the overall situation, ACRES said. It added that the improvements were due to the public’s constant pressure on the pet shop industry, as well as the actions that AVA took in response to the May probe. The AVA had conducted unannounced inspections of 31 errant pet shops and farms identified by ACRES, and found that most of them had satisfactory conditions, save for some “minor lapses”.

Mr Tan En, ACRES director of advocacy, said: “There is still room for improvement as a few businesses continue to fail the animals and (the) trust of their potential owners. With the public’s support, we will continue to engage with pet shops and farms to (improve) the welfare of animals.” 

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