Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Many people in Singapore own pets that are treated like a member of the family, and those that do not own pets, treat the animals around them with respect.
Unfortunately, there are also a number that do not, with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Singapore receiving an average of 80 to 90 reports of alleged animal cruelty every month.
This article will help you to identify animal abuse, the consequences for the abuser and the abused animal, and what steps to take should you witness it.
Offences Against Animals in Singapore and their Penalties
There are 2 main types of animal abuse recognised as criminal offences in Singapore. These are namely:
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 offences, the offender faces a fine of up to $30,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.
A particularly severe example of animal cruelty in Singapore occurred in 2017. The offender had run down 19 flights of stairs with his pet poodle attached to him on a leash. As a result, the poodle was banged against the wall, floor and stairs, leaving blood stains, and sustained serious injuries from being dragged by his owner. The poodle was then abandoned and subsequently died from its injuries.
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.
Additionally, pet owners must not abandon their pets, and must make efforts to find them if they go missing.
Failing to comply with any of the above duties is considered neglect, which is a criminal offence.
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 offences, the offender faces a fine of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years.
Where the person commits such an offence while in the course of employment in an animal-related business (e.g. at a pet boarding facility), they will be liable for a fine of up to $40,000 and/or to imprisonment for up to 2 years. In the case of subsequent offences, the offender faces a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
Other penalties for offenders of animal cruelty or neglect
The court has the power to disqualify those found guilty of animal cruelty or neglect from owning all kinds of animals for up to 12 months. In the above case involving the abuse of the pet poodle, the offender was disqualified from owning animals for 12 months.
If a person who has been disqualified from owning animals continues to do so, they are guilty of an offence and face a fine of up to $5,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months.
When such a disqualification order is made, the court may also take away any animals owned by the offender.
The court may also order for the animal to receive veterinary treatment. In this situation, the offender is liable for all costs of the animal’s treatment until it has recovered.
What to Do If You Witness an Act of Animal Cruelty
If you witness an act of deliberate cruelty that results in the death or injury of an animal, or the abandonment of an animal, the SPCA recommends that you take the following steps:
- Call the police at 999 immediately.
- Call the SPCA at 62875355 ext 9 (available 24/7).
- Take a video or picture of the suspect if it is safe to do so.
- Note any distinguishing features of the persons, or any clothing or accessories worn, or any vehicle numbers.
- Note the exact location the cruelty took place.
- Take pictures of the animal and the surrounding area. Forward all pictures and videos to the SPCA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If the animal is dead, do not move the body.
If you witness any other type of cruelty that may not require the immediate attention of the SPCA or the police (for example, you suspect an animal is being neglected but it has no injuries), you may fill out the Cruelty Complaint Form and the SPCA will investigate.
However, it must be noted that the SPCA does not have any powers of enforcement. The SPCA is a charitable, non-government animal welfare charity that primarily works to rescue animals, facilitate the adoption of unwanted and stray pets, and educate the public on treating animals kindly.
Hence, serious cases of animal abuse, where the animal is severely injured or dies from the abuse, or cases of neglect with no improvement are referred to the police or the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) of the National Parks Board. As the police and the AVS have powers of enforcement, they can launch criminal investigations against the abuser.
What Happens to the Animals that were Abused?
Once an injured animal has been discovered, and the SPCA has been alerted, they will dispatch their Animal Rescue Officers who are on call 24/7. These officers will bring the animal to SPCA’s vets for care.
Once treated, many of these animals are released back into the community, put up for adoption or fostered by a fosterer.
Sadly, in some situations, the animal either does not survive the abuse, or is in such a state that they must be euthanised. In such a situation, the court may make an order to euthanise the animal.
Fortunately, there is legislation in place and animal welfare organisations that aim to help and rehome abused animals, and prevent such incidents of abuse from occurring in the first place. If you witness any acts of animal cruelty or neglect, please inform the SPCA and/or the police.
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
- Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
- Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
- Is Lying to the Police or Authorities an Offence in Singapore?
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
- The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
- Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
- Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
- Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
- Criminal Records in Singapore
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
- Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
- How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
- Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
- Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
- Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
- Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
- Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
- What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
- What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
- Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
- Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
- Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
- STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
- Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
- Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
- Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
- Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
- Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
- Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
- Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
- Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
- Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
- Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore