AVA says infringement of pet trade conditions not dire
The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) released an explosive report in May detailing infringements in the pet trade here. The animal welfare group found that 31 out of 41 pet retailers flouted pet shop and farm licence conditions. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) says that the situation is not as dire and it has warned just a pet shop and two pet farms. FOO JIE YING (email@example.com) reports
1 CAGE SIZE
What Acres found: Nine pet shops and 10 pet farms with enclosures or cages infringed the size conditions.
Under AVA's pet shop licence conditions, the length of the cage must be at least two times the length of the animal.
The width should be at least 1½ times the length of the animal, and the height must allow the animal to comfortably stand upright on its hind legs.
Acres also had video evidence of two dogs kept in cages that looked too small for them (right).
What AVA found: Out of the 19 pet retailers identified by Acres, 12 had cages "slightly smaller than the required sizes".
A pet farm licensee was served a warning letter as AVA found the cages did not allow the animals to move around and stand comfortably.
As for the video released by Acres, AVA found that the pet shops had only housed the animals for a short period, either before or after their grooming sessions, or during housekeeping.
2 CAGE FLOORING
What Acres found: Five pet shops and nine pet farms failed to provide floor mats for the pet cages as prescribed in the licensing conditions.
AVA requires pet shops to line cages with floor mats that provide firm and comfortable support for the animals.
If the cage floor is made of thin wire, or if the wire mesh has gaps bigger than 1cm by 1cm, the mats must cover at least half the floor.
What AVA found: Only one of the pet shops and one of the pet farms identified by Acres used "unacceptable alternative flooring".
This may potentially impact the welfare of animals, and the licensees involved have been served warning letters, AVA said.
What Acres found: A pet shop and a pet farm did not provide drinking water for the puppies displayed in the enclosures.
An Acres investigator previously told The New Paper that he saw the puppies panting heavily, an indication that they were not given enough clean drinking water.
AVA requires clean drinking water to be provided at all times.
What AVA found: Both the pet shop and pet farm gave water to the puppies at ½-hour to one-hour intervals. When AVA inspectors asked the retailers to provide water to random puppies, they did not drink the water immediately, suggesting that they were not thirsty.
4 PET GRADE DECAL
What Acres found: AVA introduced a Pet Shop Grading Scheme in 2007 to raise standards in the pet retail industry.
Pet shops are graded from A to D based on their compliance with licence conditions and their adoption of best animal welfare practices.
Acres investigators observed that no pet shop decal was displayed in 13 pet shops.
What AVA found: Only seven pet shops out of the 13 that Acres identified did not display their pet shop grade decals. The decals in these pet shops are now displayed.
WHAT AVA, ACRES SAY
ACRES CHIEF EXECUTIVE LOUIS NG:
"The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) undercover investigation highlighted serious concerns about the welfare of animals in pet shops.
"Based on our follow-up surveys and AVA's (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) surveys, I am heartened that the welfare of the animals in pet shops has improved and some pet shops have been warned by AVA about breaches in animal welfare.
"The Acres Animal Crime Investigation Unit will continue with undercover investigations to ensure animal welfare standards are met.
"If further breaches are found in the same pet shops, we hope that stronger penalties will be meted out to serve as a greater deterrence.
"The strong partnership between Acres and AVA is crucial in our efforts for better animal welfare standards at pet shops.
"Acres will continue to work closely with AVA, and also work on updating and improving the pet shop licensing conditions so that there is more clarity on how it is enforced."
"AVA thanks Acres for its report on its discreet observations on the ground.
"The investigation, which included surprise and unannounced inspection visits by AVA officers, found minor lapses. In addition, one pet shop and two pet farms have been warned to rectify noncompliance which are more significant in nature as they may potentially impact animal welfare.
"AVA will continue with regular inspections on pet shops and farms, to ensure that they comply with licensing conditions.
"We are exploring working with animal welfare groups to conduct mystery audits on pet retailers. Such groups and the general public can play a part to ensure observance of proper standards by pet shops/farms.
"Anyone who comes across errant pet shop or farm can provide feedback to AVA at 1800-476-1600."