Saturday, June 12, 2010

Errant pet farms ply trade despite inspection regime

The Straits Times
ST Forum

Jun 12, 2010
Errant pet farms ply trade despite inspection regime

I REFER to Thursday's letter by Mr Goh Shih Yong of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, 'AVA to take stern action against animal cruelty'.

Mr Goh said dog farms must meet licensing conditions and disease prevention programmes approved by AVA and that these farms employ the services of private veterinarians. He also said AVA conducts regular surveillance and monitoring of pet shops and dog farms, including surprise inspection checks on farms.

A report published in The Straits Times after a visit to some farms told a different story ('Good breeding practices urged for dog farms'; May 14). The conditions there were appalling and the stench from some of the kennels was unbearable.

The Straits Times also highlighted the case of a dog farm which was bought over by a group of animal lovers from an owner who was obviously overwhelmed by the problems of his farm and sick dogs. Some of these dogs were suffering from heartworm disease. How can such serious conditions go undetected by AVA inspectors and private veterinarians if checks are carried out regularly and vigilantly?

I agree with Mr Goh that educating the public on animal welfare is the way to go. By choosing to patronise only the responsible breeders, the indiscriminate ones will naturally be weeded out. This solution, though effective, takes time. Until then, how many more animals will be made to go through unnecessary pain and suffering?

AVA must hasten improvements to its rules and enforcement actions. Its penalties should deter irresponsible pet traders and breeders from making profit out of animals, rather than serve as just a rap on the knuckles.Mahatma Gandhi once said: 'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.'

Chay Whye Peng (Madam)