SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) plans to do a comprehensive review of the regulations of the pet industry, including how best to regulate pet boarding businesses, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling in Parliament on Wednesday (Feb 13).
She noted that the AVA currently licenses pet shops and pet farms, some of which have commercial pet boarding facilities.
Ms Sun was replying to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) who had asked whether the National Development Ministry will license such "pet hotels" on top of requiring them to abide by the standards and best practices listed in the Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Industry).
She noted that beyond the code, "AVA can take enforcement action against pet boarding businesses under the Animals and Birds Act for failing in this duty of care, or for animal cruelty".
Pet boarding facilities were in the spotlight earlier this year when a dog from Platinium Dogs Club went missing while staying at the facility. Later, it was found to have died.
Before an AVA investigation revealed that it had died, angry dog owners protested outside the facility in Bukit Panjang. The facility had previously been criticised online by other dog owners for mistreatment of their pets.
Mr Ng, who is the founder and chief executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), asked if the AVA has a list of pet boarders to do spot checks to prevent animal abuse while the review is being done.
Ms Sun said the AVA has a list of commercial boarders in pet farms, and that pet boarders who operate outside of farmland do not need a licence.
But, she added: "We also need to be mindful that there are many pet boarders who are do-gooders - well-meaning pet lovers who provide pet boarding facilities."
Mr Ng also raised the issue of shark's fins, asking what proportion of shark's fin shipments are sampled and undergo DNA analysis to ensure the species declarations are accurate.
Ms Sun replied that "AVA acts based on credible information, tip-offs from other regulatory agencies, and market surveillance to identify shark's fin consignments that may not have the necessary Cites permits or may have been wrongly declared".
These consignments then undergo DNA testing to verify if the species declarations are accurate, she added.
Cites, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, which Singapore is a party to, regulates such trades through a system of permits issued by both importing and exporting countries. Some shark species are on the Cites list.
Ms Sun said that in the past five years, the AVA had found one consignment of shark's fin to be wrongly declared.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.