As your reporter rightly pointed out (Owners Spend Big Bucks To Treat Ailing Pets, Life!, June 15), canine distemper is a viral disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems and can be fatal.
It was also highlighted that Mr Kelvin Lam's current pet (top photo), who was diagnosed and treated for distemper, was a replacement for another puppy which he had bought from the same pet farm and which also died of the disease.
While it is not mandatory, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hopes that vets who treat dogs, and who then confirm that they have canine diseases, make timely notification of such outbreaks to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority as a matter of protocol. A registrar of such notifications can note the trends of such outbreaks and improve the facilities where necessary.
Furthermore, the pet farms should voluntarily quarantine their animals, put advisories of such outbreaks up at their premises and suspend sales until the premises are cleaned. This just makes good business practice.
It is also good for the business, public relations-wise, to maintain clean, hygienic and disinfected breeding facilities.
It does seem more than a coincidence that both dogs originated from the same pet farm, which suggests that hygiene, animal management, wellness and welfare are lacking at this pet farm. Many pet farms in Singapore have abysmal breeding facilities and the close enclosures make for easy transmission of diseases.
Malnutrition, severe skin problems, little funds spent on veterinary care and poor attention to hygiene and quarantining of sick puppies and adults are symptomatic of an industry that is more concerned about the health of its bottom line than that of the animals in its care.
But the unsuspecting buyer should not be a victim of such vagaries in the business.
Corinne Fong Executive director, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals