SINGAPORE: Alleged abuse at the Platinium Dogs Club pet boarding center has called into question the way these facilities are regulated in Singapore, with some operators calling for clearer guidelines.
The Platinium Dogs Club at 7 Galistan Avenue was raided by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Saturday, December 29 following several complaints that animals in its care had been mistreated.
Pet owners complained of mistreatment, with one owner claiming his dog had died under the care of the facility. In addition, a search is underway for the Shetland Sheepdog Prince, who went missing while interned at the center.
The string of incidents has led concerned animal lovers to demand tougher measures, with a petition launched Thursday to “demand justice” for abused animals. He had collected nearly 40,000 signatures on Friday evening.
READ: AVA investigates Platinium Dogs Club pet boarding service for alleged abuse
READ: Man taken to hospital after car crash outside Platinium Dogs Club
But while AVA licenses are required for pet shops and pet farms, no license is required to run a pet boarding or hotel.
Unlike pet farms – some of which have commercial pet boarding facilities – pet boarders are not required to comply with AVA licensing conditions, nor are they subject to regular spot checks.
âI have an agricultural permit. AVA allows me to board on site, âsaid a spokesperson for the Mutts and Mittens Commercial Boarding Center, located at The Animal Lodge in AVA.
“If you have a store you somehow get the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to give you the use of the pet boarding house, you can set it up.”
For those who don’t run pet farms, the regulation when setting up a pet boarding house focuses on URA approval.
AVA and URA told Channel NewsAsia that commercial pet boarding houses should be located in “suitable” agricultural areas or on commercial premises, so as not to cause “inconvenience” to surrounding residents.
âIt’s a pretty gray area,â Sunny Heights Dog Care Center General Manager Derrick Tan told Channel NewsAsia.
Home boarding of pets is illegal, said Mr Tan, who is also the chairman of animal welfare group Voices for Animals, said, but this is because a residential property would need to be licensed for use. commercial by URA.
Authorities said URA planning approval is required before operators can use the premises for commercial pet boarding, adding that unauthorized uses would be investigated and that action would be taken if necessary.
Meanwhile, Nekoya Cat Hotel chain founder Debrah Lau told Channel NewsAsia that since her debut two years ago, she has not been subject to any surveillance by AVA.
âTo my knowledge and to this day, the AVA has no restrictions or requirements on our part that we must meet if we are to open a boarding school in Singapore,â she said.
Two of its outlets – one in Centropod, which is no longer occupied, and one in King Albert Park – have been located in shopping malls.
During their setup, Ms Lau said that she was asked to send a request to the URA.
Although she had to submit a proposal outlining how they would prevent disturbance from their neighbors, it had nothing to do with animal welfare, she stressed.
âFor example, noise created by cats is an issue when we are discussing whether a cat boarding house is suitable to operate inside a shopping center. I will then seek to assure URA that I will install glass doors to dampen sound, keep cats in (an) enclosed space, âshe said.
“It’s different from how I’m going to make sure the cat is comfortably groomed … To stamp the sound, I can keep it in a cardboard box and tape it on. Or, I can choose to keep the cat happy and comfortable in a separate location. room.”
The AVA has an Animal Welfare Code for the Pet Industry, which, among other standards, sets “minimum standards and best practices” for pet residents. This includes such things as the dimensions of the kennel, the provision of exercises and hygiene standards. However, flouting the code is not a crime.
“Although failure to meet a minimum standard in the code is not an offense, it can be used to support prosecution or other enforcement action in animal welfare cases,” said the ‘AVA when the code was announced in 2016.
READ: AVA releases new animal welfare code for the pet industry
When asked if authorities enforced the app, Ms Lau said her outlets had spot checks, but these were carried out by the URA and were unrelated animal welfare.
âI think it’s just to make sure we’re not causing any nuisance (to the neighbors). They were quite surprised that we had cats, âshe said.