Platinium Dogs Club saga: Viral petition hits over 25,000 signatures
Online petition calling for more stringent penalties, prompted by pet boarding house saga, gets 25,000 signatures in 14 hours
An online petition calling for stiffer penalties against animal abusers gathered more than 25,000 signatures in just 14 hours yesterday.
The petition on Change.org, directed to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Parks Board, was sparked by the recent Platinium Dogs Club saga.
AVA is investigating the pet boarding service provider following complaints of mistreatment of animals under its care.
Last Saturday, AVA raided its premises - a semi-detached house in Bukit Panjang - and took into temporary custody 18 dogs and a rabbit found there.
Most of them have since been reunited with their owners.
The petition was started at 10am yesterday by Mr Roderick Low, 36. He does not own a pet but feels strongly that animal abusers should face harsher penalties.
Mr Low, who works in digital marketing, told The New Paper: "I feel the current penalties are not stringent enough to deter animal abuse.
"I don't have a dog, but my sister does. He is a part of our family, and I can imagine how pet owners would feel if their pets are abused."
The penalties for animal cruelty were raised in January 2015 after the Animals and Birds Act, which governs animal welfare, was amended by Parliament following a review.
Previously, first-time offenders could be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to 12 months, or both.
The current penalties have a tiered structure for individuals and those in animal-related businesses.
For the first offence, individuals can be fined up to $15,000 or jailed for up to 18 months, or both, while those in animal-related businesses can be fined up to $40,000 or jailed for two years, or both.
Mr Low called for stronger penalties for both individuals and animal-related businesses, and suggests jail time be increased to three to four years, with heftier fines and compensation for affected pet owners.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which was involved in the AVA raid on Platinium Dogs Club, supports Mr Low's petition for stiffer penalties for both individuals and animal-related businesses.
SPCA executive director Dr Jaipal Singh Gill told TNP: "Petitions are a way for people to express their opinions. It is understandable that in a case like this one, people are moved to take action.
"It is heartening to see so many people speak up for the voiceless. The SPCA has long advocated for strong laws to deter animal cruelty and to punish those who harm animals. We will continue these efforts."
BREACH OF CONTRACT
Lawyer Josephus Tan said that in cases where an animal-related business is taken to court, it could also face charges such as breach of contract or have its licence revoked while individuals in the business could be charged separately for animal cruelty.
On the call for tougher penalties, he said that in reviewing the penalties, it is important to look at the prevalence of offences, and not simply make changes as a knee-jerk reaction.
Mr Tan said: "Ultimately, we cannot run from the fact that every law must be enacted based on prevalence and if there is really an increase in such cases, then it might be time to have a relook."
Mr Low said that when he came up with the idea of the petition, he was not sure about going ahead until he spoke to his friends and pet owners.
He said: "They all said it was a good idea, so I decided that if no one else wanted to start it, I would.
"A lot of us felt that it is important for the authorities to look into harsher penalties. I also feel that it is important for affected pet owners to get some type of compensation.
"While money cannot make up for the suffering of their beloved pets, at least it can provide some comfort."
Mr Low said of the outpouring of support for his petition: "I am very surprised. I did not expect it to take off like this."