Let HDB dwellers keep 2nd dog - if it is adopted

Let HDB dwellers keep 2nd dog - if it is adopted

SINGAPORE - An animal-welfare group has started a petition to urge the authorities to review its policy of allowing only one dog of an approved breed to be kept in a Housing Board (HDB) flat.

Non-profit organisation Agency for Animal Welfare (AAW) started the online petition last month in the hope of getting permission for HDB flat-dwellers to keep a second dog - if it is adopted.

AAW told My Paper that, under its proposal, potential adopters of such dogs would have to be approved and supervised by animal-welfare groups.

The petition, started on July 12, has garnered over 1,500 signatures.

AAW hopes to get at least 5 per cent of Singapore's population on board. It plans to send a written proposal to the Ministry of National Development once this target has been reached.

The campaign's leader, AAW full-time volunteer George Gan, said that the organisation has observed a rising trend in animal-abandonment and abuse cases, and that most shelters are running at maximum capacity.

The 62-year-old said: "Without a change in policy, most rescuers will have difficulty finding homes for rescued dogs because shelters are full."

"Most of these viable dogs...will end up either culled as strays...or hoarded, then seized when found out."

For instance, one former breeding dog called CityHall is still under foster care after potential adopters had to be turned away, as they lived in HDB flats and already owned a dog.

The Schnauzer was rescued from a puppy mill, its ears infested with maggots. The dog had to have its eardrums removed. Mr Gan stressed that the premise is "not to aid those who want to buy another dog, but only those who are willing to adopt rescued dogs".

The petition's other cause is for adopters of second dogs aged eight years and older to pay just half the licensing fees to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

AVA, which regulates animal welfare and control, requires all dogs above three months of age to be licensed for rabies control.

Animal-welfare groups My Paper spoke to said such a change to regulations will help to promote dog adoption.

Ms Corinne Fong, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said many dogs cannot be "rehomed" due to such restrictions.

This sentiment was shared by Mr Ricky Yeo, president of Action for Singapore Dogs, who sees the petition as a "stepping stone".

While he believes that the more pertinent issue is the restriction against keeping medium-sized dogs in HDB flats, he said "all avenues to get dogs off the streets should be considered".

Under HDB rules, a dog kept in a flat has to be one of 60 approved breeds - dogs usually no more than 40cm in height, measured up to the shoulder, and no heavier than 10kg.

One of the petition's signatories is marketing professional Ashley Wong, 33, who lives in a five-room HDB maisonette in Bukit Batok.

She told My Paper that she sent an abandoned dog she had cared for to the SPCA last year because she already had a toy poodle at home.

Ms Wong said: "I hope the HDB can at least make exceptions for those living in bigger flats."


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