Dog lovers see red over voucher

Dog lovers see red over voucher
Canine controversy: The Pet Arena voucher is part of the National Day Discount Booklet.

Puppies for sale at 0 per cent instalment. This is what a voucher in this year's National Day Parade (NDP) funpack is offering.

It has drawn flak from animal activists here, especially in the light of recent national efforts to promote responsible pet ownership.

The issue has gone viral on Facebook, Twitter and some social media sites. Dog lovers have also expressed their displeasure on NDPeeps, the NDP Facebook page.

The voucher, issued by Pet Arena, is part of the National Day Discount Booklet that is usually distributed during the parade.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has written to both the NDP organisers and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to express its "extreme disappointment" that they had chosen to "close their eyes to the predicaments of the shelters which continue to grapple with throwaways, abandonment and surrenders", says SPCA executive director Corinne Fong.

She adds that, by this, the NDP organisers and, by extension, the MSF, have encouraged impulse buying of puppies. "The credit-card zero-instalment payment is a marketing gimmick by the card issuer," she says.

Dog rescuer Sharon Oh says: "I totally do not agree with getting a dog through instalment payments. It is not a car. What if the client defaults? What is going to happen to the dog?"

They believe that this flies in the face of recent efforts such as the Codes of Animal Welfare formulated by the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee for Animal Welfare. The proposed code is being reviewed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

This year, rules to reduce impulse buying by children and abandonment of pets came into force - those under the age of 16 can buy pets only when accompanied by their parents or a legal guardian, and the shop must do a pre-sale screening.

In response to The New Paper on Sunday's queries, Teo Cheng Leong, deputy chairman of the NDP 2014 executive committee and chairman of the parade's sponsorship committee, says they worked through "a vendor which has a set of internal guidelines for compliance by its partners".

"These guidelines include ensuring that NDP-related publications do not carry religious, obscene or offensive materials. The NDP 2014 exco supports responsible pet ownership and believes that the coupon does not dilute such support."

Also responding to queries, K.C. Wong of Pet Arena said: "Our objective is to provide healthy pets for lifetime companionship. We take great effort in educating our customers - particularly walk-ins - on the vital need to be responsible pet owners. We do not advocate impulse buying."

This article was first published on August 4, 2014.
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