AVA should be stricter with errant pet owners, Latest Views News - The New Paper

AVA should be stricter with errant pet owners

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We are disappointed with the article "Animal cruelty cases fall as complaints rise" (The New Paper, April 23).

According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), this happened last year because of "inaccurate or grossly exaggerated" reports.

But over the years, AVA has dismissed legitimate complaints from our animal welfare group.

On April 10, Bunny Wonderland learnt about a rabbit in a rusty, wire-bottomed cage in an HDB common corridor, with no access to food or water.

Two volunteers gave the rabbit food and water, and laid newspaper on the cage floor to protect its feet. They also approached the owners and tried to counsel them. A report was lodged with AVA, accompanied by photos.

But the response was that as the volunteers had provided food and water, there was no evidence the rabbit was being neglected. It was also suggested that the volunteers stop feeding the rabbit, so that evidence could be collected to build a case against the owners.

We were unable to comply as it could have resulted in the death of the rabbit.

As there was no evidence of neglect, AVA simply sent an advisory to the owners and closed the case.

This is the latest example in a series of unsuccessful reports lodged by us.

We firmly believe that no report we lodge is frivolous and the rabbits are really suffering from neglect.

We urge AVA to adopt stricter expectations when assessing whether pet owners are neglecting their pets.

For example, rabbits should be kept inside the home and not out in the corridor, where they are exposed to noise and pollutants and may face other dangers, including predators such as cats and dogs.

When these expectations are not met, AVA should not hesitate to crack down on errant owners, instead of making requests to the reporting animal welfare group that the group cannot, in good faith, accede to.