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     Pets - Licensing Laws

       Pet Licensing Laws

The latest letter/article is at the top. The letter/article that started the debate is right below.


  Excerpt of a letter by GOH Shih Yong, Head/Public Affairs, Agri-food & Veterinary Authority, Ministry of National Development, to Forum, The Straits Times of 11 Apr 2001

  I refer to the recent letters on pets. Ms Cathy Strong has been keeping 10 dogs prior to 1989, when the restriction on the keeping of dogs to not more than three per premises was introduced.

  She was allowed to continue keeping the 10 dogs on compassionate grounds, until such time the dogs live out their natural lives. Over time, the number of dogs kept by her would be reduced by natural attrition, and she would be allowed to keep only three dogs in her premises.

  This concession was granted to Ms Strong on the condition that her premises would be well-maintained, that her 10 dogs were microchipped, and the bitches sterilised. Ms Strong also had some of her dogs de-barked to reduce noise.

  We wish to assure your readers that, where public health is concerned, the Ministry of the Environment (ENV) will not hesitate to take strict action to ensure the public's safety. Its officers will continue to monitor the site.

  The keeping of a large number of pets in a household does not necessarily pose a nuisance or health hazard. Where an owner is responsible and maintains the premises and the pets in good condition, and subjects the animals to proper control and veterinary care, the animals should not pose a nuisance or health problem. Nevertheless, residents are advised not to keep too many pets in a house.

  Some overseas governments do license cats, but this practice is not universal, and the reasons for introducing laws vary.

  In some localities in the US, where rabies (a contagious and fatal disease) is present in the wildlife population, the cats are licensed to ensure that they are vaccinated regularly against rabies. The licensed cats are thus protected against rabies when they come into contact with wildlife.

  Licensing of cats has also been introduced to protect local fauna from being hunted and threatened by cats.

  In Singapore, the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) implements dog licensing to prevent the spread of rabies, and to control the keeping of dangerous dogs to ensure public safety.

  Singapore has been free form rabies since 1953. Should rabies inadvertently occur in Singapore, dog licensing will enable AVA to quickly locate licensed dogs for vaccination against rabies so that they are protected and do not contribute to further spread of the disease.

  This is important in Singapore, given that there is close contact between people and dogs, and that the dog is the main animal to spread rabies to people in our urban environment.

  Cats, on the other hand, do not play an important role in the spread of rabies. As such, they are not licensed.

  Singapore already has laws in place to prevent nuisance and public-health problems arising from the keeping of animals, including cats. The Environmental Public Health Act is able to deal with the keeping of animals, in such places, manner or numbers where it gives rise to nuisance or public-health problems....

  AVA has also produced a Pet Starter Kit that serves to educate pet owners on their responsibilities. This free kit has been distributed to schools and pet shops, and is freely available from AVA at the Centre for Animal Welfare & Control, 75 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118507 (Tel: 471 9987)

GOH Shih Yong Head/Public Affairs, For CEO, Agri-food & Veterinary Authority, Ministry of National Development.

11 Apr 2001


Excerpt of a letter by Jack TAN Soo Kang to Forum, The Straits Times of 9 Apr 2001

  ..... Having had cats urinated and defecated in his garden, I can understand why Dr Si-hoe wants stricter control on cat ownership. 

  However, if we want to enforce tighter control on cats because "their scratches and bites are notorious for spreading diseases", we may also need consider implementing similar measures on MRT or bus commuters!

  Many cough, sneeze or board the train with unwashed hands and hair, carrying germs with them. 

  What Dr Si-hoe needs is a castle to ensure a cleaner environment. Or she may want to consider adopting robotic pets, and using artificial grass for her lawn.

Jack TAN Soo Kang

9 Apr 2001


Excerpt of a letter by Lynn YEO Mei-Wen to Forum, The Straits Times of 9 Apr 2001

  .....Certainly pet owners should be made more aware of their social responsibilities and not inconvenience their neighbours. However, enforcing blanket regulations would be too harsh.

  As a doctor and cat owner, I feel it is unfortunate that the minimal risks associated with animal contact have been highlighted without fair mention of the many positive aspects of animal companionship.

  I am concerned that an imbalanced view would unnecessarily deter people who want to adopt a pet, or worse, cause those who already own pets to abandon them.

  People should not be denied the pleasure and benefits of having a pet because of incomplete information. An unjustified fear of animals might also deny many stray cats a chance of being taken off our streets into homes.....

  Tolerance, awareness and correct information is crucial in allowing our animal companions to continue to live peacefully, while making the environment pleasant for all.

Lynn YEO Mei-Wen

9 Apr 2001


Excerpt of a letter by Dr SI-HOE Cheng Kit to Forum, The Straits Times of 5 April 2001

  ..... I wish to comment on health issues and the lack of inadequate laws regarding cat ownership.

  Although it is uncommon for cat-scratch disease or toxoplasmosis to spread from cats to humans, there are other health hazards posed by these animals.

  Animal scratches and bites are notorious for spreading disease and causing infected wounds as their mouths and claws contain bacteria.

  It is well documented in medical literature that cat dander is among the most common allergens aggravating asthma, allergic sinusitis and eczema.

  These are allergies that are triggered and worsened by animal fur and saliva.

  Doctors always advise such patients not to have pets, such as dogs or cats. With allergies on the rise, this is a very real and common problem.

  Cat owners are not governed by the same strict laws that dogs are.....

  In the United States, there are laws requiring cats to be licensed. This forces cat owners to be accountable for their animal's behaviour.

  I also believe that there should be a law requiring owners to keep their animals within their own homes, or to house them in suitable cages at appropriate times.

  This advice is issued in cat-care leaflets issued by the authorities here, but there are currently no laws to enforce it.

Dr SI-HOE Cheng Kit

5 Apr 2001

Online Services for Dog Licensing is at