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The Problem with Singapore's Pet Industry

Singapore’s pet industry has been booming, and in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown, prices and sales have drastically increased. Since 2019, the population of pet dogs in Singapore has risen by almost 3%, whereas the number of pet cats has risen by around 10%. However, the welfare of these pets seems to be simultaneously decreasing.

There has also been a rapid inflation in price over the past ten years, which is said to have occurred due to the tighter rules on animal welfare and more frequent inspections by the AVS (Animal Veterinary Service) - though the effects of this have not always been evident. Most, if not all, puppies in Singaporean pet shops come from puppy mills and backyard breeders, where mother dogs are often kept in cramped, unsanitary cages and forcefully inseminated. Puppies, once born, are often taken prematurely from their mothers, where they are then carted to pet shops in tiny cages with bright lights, rough hands and loud noises all around.

As a result of inbreeding or any other bad breeding practice, the puppies often have several genetic or temperament issues, which only seem to arise once the family has fully paid for, and become attached to the dog - very convenient timing for the breeders. In the worst case scenario, dogs may die early due to these preventable ‘defects’ - for example, in October of 2022, a woman purchased two corgi puppies for $6400, and they both sadly passed away in November after she had already spent $12000 on vet fees.

In the example above, it is likely that the dogs were illegally imported from Malaysia with limited (or fake) documentation. Unfortunately, even when one spends over $5 000 on a puppy, there is almost no guarantee that your pet has been bred ethically and is healthy.

It is clear that pet shops here do not really care about their animals, for example, when they sell dogs for different prices based on their coat (dogs with a merle coat, for example, are often sold for much more even though they are highly susceptible to auditory and visual problems). It’s also seen when they sell samoyeds and huskies in Singapore, a tropical climate where these dogs will never truly be comfortable. Furthermore, puppies are kept in extremely stressful conditions: their cages are tiny, there are constantly strangers in their space, they are surrounded by other dogs barking distressed, and they usually aren’t even allowed outside.

Puppies that are sold to loving homes can go on to live long, happy lives - but what happens to those that aren’t sold? They are usually discarded, sold cheaply to irresponsible owners, or are even killed. We cannot let this go on any longer.

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