Animal Law in Singapore

October 6, 2020Zihao Yu

Introduction

In Singapore, the Animals and Birds Act (Chapter 7) is for the control of diseases and the movement of animals, animal cruelty prevention, and animal welfare.

The Wildlife Act (Chapter 351) is for “the protection, preservation, and management of wildlife for the purposes of maintaining a healthy ecosystem and safeguarding public safety and health, and for related matters.”

The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act is to “give effect to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora by controlling the importation, exportation and introduction from the sea of certain animals and plants and parts of such animals and plants and for matters connected therewith.”

The Animals and Birds Act

The Act was made in 1965 as Ordinance 3 of 1965—Animals and Birds Ordinance 1965, revised into Animals and Birds Act (Cap. 289) in 1970, 1985, and 2002 together with some amendments in different years.

This Act covers regulations on the importation, transshipment, the exportation of animals and birds; prevention of the spread of disease, with the special provisions relating to cats and dogs in connection with rabies, and to animals (other than cats and dogs) and birds; animal welfare and prevention of cruelty to animals; control of livestock; and the enforcement and the penalties.

In this Act, the relation between “animal,” “bird,” and “fish” are not clear. The legislator does not have a clear concept for the categories of animals.

“Animal”

According to the definition of the Act, “animal” means “any mammal (other than man) or fish and includes any other living creature” and shall include “fish” as “fish”, and “bird” as “other living creature.” In Article 41, “animal” includes “any beast, bird, fish or reptile, whether wild or tame” for the part of animal welfare and anti-cruelty, and the definition in Article 2 Interpretation is that “animal” means any mammal (other than man) or fish and includes any other living creature that is prescribed as an animal for the purposes of this Act or that falls within a class of animals that is prescribed for those purposes.

“Birds” and “Fish”

In the Act, according to the definition in the Article 2 Interpretation, “bird” includes domestic fowls, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowls and pigeons of any age or sex and the eggs thereof; and “fish” includes any of the varieties of marine, brackish water or freshwater fishes, crustacea, aquatic mollusks, turtles, marine sponges, trepang and any other form of aquatic life and the young and eggs thereof. In the terms of “animals and birds” and “animals or birds” is used for more than 50 times both in the title and main body of the Act, which clearly shows that “bird” is not within the scope of “animal,” which is in contrast with the definition that birds shall be within the concept of “any other living creature.” The term of “animals, birds or fish” is only used for four times in the introduction part of the Act which excludes “fish” from “animal,” but in the main body of the Act, however, fish is not listed separately from “animal,” and the concept of “animal” includes “fish.”

Other Animals

In Article 2, the definition of “Fish,” “crustacea, aquatic mollusks, turtles, marine sponges, trepang and any other form of aquatic life and the young and eggs thereof” are mentioned, but in Article 41, however, “animal” includes “any beast, bird, fish or reptile.” As a result, turtles as the reptile could be listed within “fish” according to Article 2 or within “reptile” according to Article 41. The amphibians are not mentioned in the Act and whether the amphibians are included in the “aquatic life” in “fish” is not stated. The definition does not include the term “beast” in Article 41 and marine mammals are listed as animals (any mammals) or fish (any other form of aquatic life) is not stated.

Animal Welfare and Criminal Offenses*

According to Article 41.A, "[t]he Director-General may, from time to time, for the purposes of this Part — issue one or more codes of animal welfare” and there are the Code of Animal Welfare (for the pet industry) in 2016 and Code of Animal Welfare (for pet owners) in 2017 for the animal welfare and anti-cruelty in the Animals and Birds Act.

Animal cruelty and the neglect of animals are 2 main types of animal abuse recognized as criminal offenses in Singapore.

Animal Cruelty

A person commits animal cruelty if they: Cause or allow any unnecessary physical or psychological pain or suffering to any animal by beating, kicking, torturing, ill-treating or terrifying the animal; Make a sick or unfit animal work; or Are involved in any business or incident related to animal fighting (e.g, dogfighting or cockfighting).

Any person found guilty of animal cruelty faces a fine of up to $15,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 18 months. In the case of subsequent offenses, the offender faces a fine of up to $30,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.

The Neglect of Animals

Pet owners are under a duty to provide their pet with adequate and suitable food and water; provide their pet with adequate shelter; not subject the pet to unreasonable or unnecessary pain or suffering in how they are handled, or confined; and protect their pet from any significant injury or disease.

Any person found guilty of neglecting an animal faces a fine of up to $10,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. In the case of subsequent offenses, the offender faces a fine of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years.

*Read more about the criminal offenses here. More information on Animal Abuse here.

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