As an animal lover, especially if we have a fur baby which we treat as a member of our family, we grieve every time we hear or even witness animal abuse. Many people in Singapore do treat animals around them with respect but sadly, there are still some who don’t.
Citing statistics from the AVA and SPCA, Law Minister K Shanmugam at the Asia for Animals Conference said that “there has been a worrying growth in the number of animal welfare and cruelty cases” over the years. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Singapore receiving an average of 80 to 90 reports of alleged animal cruelty every month.
Before we dive deeply into this topic, let’s first identify what are the acts considered animal abuse. There are 2 main types of animal abuse recognized as criminal offenses in Singapore:
1. Animal Cruelty
A person commits animal cruelty if they:
- Cause unnecessary physical or psychological pain or suffering to any animal by beating, kicking, torturing, ill-treating, or terrifying the animal
- Make a sick, injured, or unfit animal to work
- Involvement in any business or incident related to animal fighting. (ex. dogfighting or cockfighting).
Penalties of Animal Cruelty
When a person is found guilty of animal cruelty they will face a fine of up to $15,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 18 months for first offenses, and fined up to $30,000 and/or jailed up to 3 years for continuous offenses.
2. Neglect and Not Caring for Animals
If you are a pet owner, according to Section 41C of the Animals and Birds Act (Cap. 7, 2002 Rev. Ed.), you are under a duty to:
Provide your pet with sufficient and appropriate food, water, and adequate shelter.
Ensure that your pet is protected from disease and injury, and do not cause them any unnecessary pain, injury, disease, or suffering.
Must not abandon pets and must make reasonable efforts to find and recover them if they go missing.
Penalties of Animal Neglect
When a person is found guilty of neglecting an animal, they will face a fine of up to $10,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. In the case of continuous offenses, the offender faces a fine of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years.
Where the person commits such an offense while in the course of employment in an animal-related business, they will be facing a fine of up to $40,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years. In the case of s continuous offenses, they will face a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years. If you work with an animal-related business, you should take a bigger responsibility for pets!
Other Penalties of Animal Cruelty or Neglect
A person guilty of whether animal cruelty or neglect will not be allowed to own all kinds of animals for up to 12 months and automatically, the court may also take away any animals owned by the offender. But if they continue to own animals regardless, they are guilty of an offense and face a fine of up to $5,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months.
If the animal is hurt or injured by the offender, the court may also order for the animal to receive veterinary treatment and of course, the offender must pay for all costs of the animal’s treatment until full recovery.
What to Do If You Witness an Act of Animal Cruelty
Now that you're aware of the acts considered as animal abuse, let's dive in on how we should act when we suddenly happen to witness one! If you witness an act of cruelty that results in the death, injury, or an abandoned animal, the SPCA recommends for us to take these following steps:
1. Immediately call the police (999)
2. SPCA’s 24/7 hotline, 6287 5355 Ext. 9
3. Take a video or picture of the suspect if it is safe to do so. It will be the hardest evidence we can get!
4. Note any distinguishing features of the offender, any clothing/accessories worn, or any vehicle numbers.
5. Note the exact location the cruelty took place. Note the exact location (street name/bus stop number/lamp post number etc.)
6. Take pictures of the animal and the surrounding area. Forward all pictures and videos to the SPCA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. If the animal is dead, do not move the body. Let the police/SPCA/AVS handle it for further investigation.
Serious cases of animal abuse, where the animal is severely injured or dies from the abuse, or cases of neglect with no improvement are referred to the police or the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) of the National Parks Board. As the police and the AVS have powers of enforcement, they can launch criminal investigations against the abuser.
If you happen to witness any other type of cruelty that may not require the immediate attention of the SPCA or the police (for example, you suspect an animal is being neglected but has no injuries), you may fill out the Cruelty Complaint Form and the SPCA will investigate about it! But also know that SPCA does not have any powers of enforcement for they are only a charitable, non-government animal welfare charity that primarily works to rescue animals, facilitate the adoption of unwanted and stray pets, and educates the public on treating animals kindly.
There are a lot of things we can do to protect animals. You can adopt a pet, donate to rescue groups (we have a list in our previous blog, click here to check it out!), teach how to properly treat animals (especially kids), and help spread awareness by sharing this information with other people, pet owners or not.
Let us know what you think and share with us some successful rescue stories you might know in the comments section below to spread awareness further!