There are 3 big Ls in Singapore’s animal welfare laws.
1. Lack of specificity:
The animal welfare laws in Singapore suffer from vagueness and lack of specificity. They fail to clearly define what constitutes animal abuse, cruelty, and neglect, leaving room for interpretation and inconsistent enforcement.
2. Limited coverage:
The existing animal welfare laws primarily focus on companion animals such as dogs and cats, while neglecting to address the welfare of other animals like farm animals, wildlife, and laboratory animals. This limited coverage leaves these animals vulnerable to mistreatment and exploitation.
3. Low prosecution rates:
Prosecution rates have remained low with only 45 criminal convictions for animal cruelty between 1985 to 2012. This low prosecution rate can be attributed to the vague animal welfare laws in Singapore. For instance, a report by the AVA showed that in 2010, there were 410 cases of animal abuse/neglect investigated. However, AVA had concluded that the majority of these cases did not involve animal cruelty and instead involved “animal welfare issues” for which counselling and warnings were issued.
Critics have pointed out that it is impossible to be certain as to where AVA draws the line between “cruelty” and mere “animal welfare issues”. It has been suggested that “cruelty” would include cases where there is unnecessary suffering. Since our main statutes on animal rights only prosecute cases that hit the high threshold of “animal cruelty” and offences relating to specific conducts listed in the statutes (e.g. abandonment, failure to supply sufficient food/water, etc), most offenders tend to get off with a light slap to their wrists.