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Dog lover launches campaign against pet peeve

SINGAPORE — Several pet shops have failed to meet the housing and environment standards to ensure the welfare of animals being put up for sale, according to a man who has launched a campaign to highlight the issue.

Dog lover launches campaign against pet peeve

Real estate agent Jacky Tan hopes to improve the housing conditions of dogs in pet shops here. PHOTO: JACKY TAN

SINGAPORE — Several pet shops have failed to meet the housing and environment standards to ensure the welfare of animals being put up for sale, according to a man who has launched a campaign to highlight the issue.

Real estate agent Jacky Tan, who started the Dogs Hate Cages campaign on Facebook in late October, hopes to improve the housing conditions of dogs in pet shops here and, eventually, end the practice of putting these animals in cages.

The 38-year-old dog lover was prompted to launch the campaign after he had come across a pet store in Geylang in June that housed dogs in cages that looked too small and uncomfortable.

Mr Tan, who alerted the Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), was eventually referred to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), whose purview includes safeguarding the welfare of animals.

Under the AVA’s housing and environment guidelines, the length of a cage or enclosure in pet shops must be a least twice the size of the length of the animal (from the nose to the base of the tail), while the width or depth of the cage must at least be one and a half times bigger than the animal.

The height of the cage should also allow the animals to comfortably stand upright on their hind legs. Shop owners are also required to provide mats that cover at least half the floor area if the floor is made of thin wire or if the wire mesh has gaps larger than 1cm-by-1cm.

In early October, Mr Tan went to survey the housing conditions of seven other pet stores and found six of them to have “violated the guidelines”.

Mr Tan said the cages were either short in length, width or their height did not allow the dogs to stand on their hind legs. At some of the stores, the animals were not provided with mats or clean drinking water at the time of his visit, he added.

Mr Tan then decided to launch his campaign on Facebook on Oct 30, which has attracted 379 likes at press time yesterday.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the AVA said yesterday: “Under the AVA’s pet shop licensing conditions, pet shops are required to ensure that the cages or enclosures are safe and comfortable for the animals.

“This includes ensuring the cage or enclosure is in good condition, keeping the cage or enclosure clean and dry and ensuring the flooring provides firm and comfortable support for the animals.

“Following the feedback, the AVA has inspected the pet shops. Of the shops inspected, one of the pet shops displayed a dog in a cage that was small. Upon our advice, the pet shop has moved the dog to a larger enclosure. The dogs in the pet shops were inspected and found to be in satisfactory condition,” it added.

Three pet shops contacted by TODAY said they were aware of the AVA guidelines.

Ms Kelly Ng, owner of Sookee Kennel at Balestier Road, said: “Our cages meet the requirements by the AVA. We have different sizes of cages for dogs of different sizes. Our puppies are not always caged up.

“We let them out individually up to five or six times a day for 45 minutes each and we provide them with towels to sleep.

“Sometimes, we have to remove the towels after their dinner so they will not pee or poo on them.”

An employee from Wellfond Pets Katong said: “Some people misunderstand and do not know that certain breeds have very sharp teeth and they will chew up the mat we provide. The bits they swallow will cause them serious health problems so we don’t give them mats.”

Mr Timothy Loh, a spokesperson for Pet Lovers Centre, whose tenant Pick-A-Pet sells puppies, said: “Besides dimensions, one should also consider the comfort level of the enclosures — customised enclosures with comfortable padded flooring like what they (the shops) provide, as opposed to metal cages, which can be painful for the dogs — as well as how fast the dogs are being sold.”

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