Reports of alleged animal cruelty cases up, but actual cases fall
AVA says exaggerated complaints, inaccurate information waste resources that can be better used to protect animals in real need
Someone once called the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to give a tip-off about a cat killer.
But investigations showed that the so-called killer's alleged victim had died from an attack by stray dogs.
The AVA said it has been receiving more complaints about animal cruelty over the years, but many of them were found to be not cases of cruelty.
This led to the unusual situation where the number of confirmed animal cruelty cases fell by seven from 2016 to last year despite the number of complaints rising by 47 over the same period.
In 2016, the AVA received 323 complaints, but investigations confirmed that only 29 were cruelty related.
Last year, the complaints rose to 370, but only 22 turned out to be cases of cruelty.
This year, as of March, there have been 122 complaints, of which 55 are being investigated.
Mr Joshua Teoh, director of the regulatory department for AVA's animal management group, told The New Paper: "Precious time and resources are expended on such cases, only to find they were inaccurate or grossly exaggerated.
"This time could otherwise have been spent on genuine cases to protect and help animals."
And it is not just the AVA that has had to waste resources on false leads.
While unable to provide figures, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said it has also been receiving more complaints on animal cruelty.
SPCA executive director Jaipal Singh Gill cited a complaint about a crocodile kept in such a small container that it could not straighten its tail.
Investigations found that it was a wooden toy with a curled-up tail.
In another case two weeks ago, cat lover Tiffany Heng posted on Facebook that about 40 cats had been poisoned at North Link Building in an industrial estate in Admiralty.
She claimed several cats had been found dead but later changed it to four dead among an estimated feline population of 20.
Her post was shared by cat lovers who directed their ire at North Link's management.
But only one dead cat was found recently, North Link's management told Ms Heng during a meeting with her and SPCA officers on April 9.
The cause of death is unknown because the body had been disposed of.
North Link's spokesman told TNP: "SPCA has directly clarified this situation as a non-issue and closed the case."
Ms Heng has since removed her post.
Despite most complaints not panning out, the SPCA's Dr Gill advised anyone who suspects a case of animal abuse to speak to an SPCA officer.
"The public should not avoid making complaints if they feel there is a legitimate case where an animal was harmed, even if they do not have concrete evidence," he said.
"We need to be careful to not make assumptions until an investigation is carried out."
Among abuse cases this year was a cat found drenched in blood in Jurong in January.
A veterinarian discovered a stab wound in its mouth, apparently made by a knife, but was unable to save the animal.
AVA said investigations are ongoing.
The AVA's Mr Teoh said that while the public should avoid spreading misinformation or speculation on animal deaths, they should still contact AVA's 24-hour hotline at 1800-476-1600 if they suspect a case of animal cruelty.