SINGAPORE: A more inclusive society for animals or tougher rules for buying a pet were some suggestions animal lovers brought up at a dialogue on Saturday.
It was also the first time the Singapore Conversation — an initiative to get Singaporeans to come to a consensus on the kind of future they want — focused on animal welfare.
Saturday’s event was jointly organised by the Agency for Animal Welfare, the Our SG Conversation Committee and the Singapore Kindness Movement.
Two working dogs — Esme and Joel — were present at the dialogue.
They were there to receive an inaugural Great Pet award given out by the Agency for Animal Welfare to pets which have served their owners in extraordinary ways.
Esme works as a guide dog for her visually impaired master, while Joel is a health service dog who can alert family members during a medical emergency at home.
Awareness of working dogs in Singapore remains low.
Hence animal lovers at the dialogue urged more shops and restaurants to welcome these dogs and their owners.
Their vision is an inclusive Singapore, for animals, too.
But pet owners need to do their part.
A keyword heard throughout the dialogue was "responsibility" — the responsibility of pet owners.
Abandonment cases in Singapore are unfortunately common. Hence some said the process of buying and owning a pet should be made tougher.
One of them is business owner Jill Hum, who said: "It’s just far too easy for someone to buy a pet. It’s not just buying candy or a teddy bear from the toy store. It’s a live animal, you need to know how to take care of the pet. You need to know it’s a lifelong commitment."
Others like Melanie Lee want an outright ban on live animals in pet stores.
"If pet shops can be legislated such that they can’t have any live pets for sale, that would really help, because we have so many dogs out there — strays dogs, dogs up for adoption that do not have a home right now."
MP for Nee Soon GRC Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim said the issue will require consultation with relevant stakeholders.
But the dialogue must go on.
"What we need to do is continue to develop and deepen this journey, so that ten years down the road, we will have a more gracious society," said the MP.
One way that can happen, participants said, is to inject the importance of animal welfare into the education system.
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