Legal and Illegal Pets in Singapore (HDB/Private Property)
Few things can compare to the joy and love animals bring us. They can make the best companions, so it is no wonder that pet ownership in Singapore has increased over the years. Even so, keeping animals requires a lot of commitment and considerations have to be made not just to them, but to our neighbours and the wider community around us.
In this article, we will be covering:
What Pets Can You Keep in Singapore?
Choices are abundant when choosing the perfect pet for yourself, but it is important that you are aware of the legal considerations surrounding certain types of animals and species.
The rules and guidelines you have to adhere to as a pet owner vary based on the type of house you live in. Pet owners who live in Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats face stricter rules to maintain harmonious living within the community, as compared to pet owners living in private properties.
The following is a comprehensive list of approved and illegal animals and breeds for HDB living as well as private housing in Singapore.
If you are a private property owner (such as the owner of a condominium unit), you are allowed to keep up to 3 pet dogs. However, according to the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) under the National Parks Board, you may keep up to 1 dog from the list of scheduled breeds of bigger dogs, provided that the relevant Part 1 and Part 2 licensing conditions are met.
The list of scheduled breeds of bigger dogs includes the following dogs:
- Pit Bull, including:
- American Pit Bull Terrier (also known as American Pit Bull and Pit Bull Terrier)
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Bulldog
- Crosses of these and other breeds
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Perro De Presa Canario
- Crosses of the above breeds
- Bull Terrier
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd Dog, including:
- Belgian Shepherd Dog
- East European Shepherd Dog
- Mastiffs, including:
- Bull Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Dogue De Bordeaux
- Crosses of the above breeds
*Note that the dogs listed in Part 1 are no longer allowed to be imported into Singapore, and refer to dogs already living in Singapore and licensed.
In contrast, if you live in an HDB flat, you face stricter restrictions on the breeds of dogs you may own. HDB provides a list of 62 small dog breeds that are approved for HDB living, and you may keep only 1 such dog at any time.
Keeping more than 1 dog on the list of approved dogs for HDB living, or keeping a dog not found within this list, may land you a fine of up to $4,000.
That said, although larger dogs from the scheduled list of breeds typically cannot be kept in HDB flats, you may still house large, local-mixed breed dogs under Project ADORE.
Intended to give the larger, disadvantaged “Singapore Special” dogs a higher chance of adoption, Project ADORE provides a legal route for you to adopt dogs that do not fall within HDB’s approval criteria. For you to be able to adopt a bigger dog, it should fulfil the following conditions:
- Be a local medium-sized mixed-breed or “Singapore Special”;
- Be at least 6 months old and sterilised;
- Have shoulder height of up to 55cm; and
- Undergo compulsory basic obedience training by AVS-accredited trainers.
Learn more about adopting a dog in Singapore in our other article.
There are no restrictions on keeping cats as pets on private property. On the other hand, cats are not allowed in HDB flats as they are deemed difficult to contain within a flat. This is due to the potential inconveniences they may bring, such as urinating in common areas.
If you are caught housing a cat, you may be required by HDB to rehome it. Should you continue to keep a cat in your flat, you can be fined up to $4,000.
The following animals are classified as small mammals and can be kept as pets in Singapore:
- Guinea pigs; and
Reptiles and amphibians
In Singapore, some species of reptiles and amphibians can be housed as pets in both HDB and private properties. These animals include:
- Red-eared terrapins;
- Green tree frogs; and
- Land hermit crabs.
In general, fish may be kept as pets in both HDB and private properties in Singapore. However, certain species that should not be kept as pets under any circumstances include:
- Devil rays;
- Flying rays;
- Sawfishes; and
Birds may be kept as pets in both HDB and private properties, provided that:
- They are not considered a protected wildlife species: Part 2 of the Wildlife (Protected Wildlife Species) Rules 2020 contains a list of birds that are considered protected wildlife species, and these birds include hornbills and owls.
- The bird is not a “street bird”: The AVS also specifies that it is illegal to own “street birds”, such as house crows, common mynahs and pigeons, as pets. Individuals may keep pigeons only if licensed to do so, and may face a fine of up to $500 and forfeiture of their pigeons if found to be keeping pigeons without a licence.
Private property owners may keep up to 10 chickens on their property. However, they should ensure that the chickens are contained in a bird-proof cage or enclosure.
On the other hand, if you live in an HDB flat, chickens are strictly prohibited as pets. According to the HDB, this is because chickens are unsuitable to be kept as indoor pets and may inconvenience others if allowed to roam indiscriminately.
For numerous reasons ranging from public safety and the welfare of the animals, Singapore prohibits the keeping of certain exotic animals as pets. Examples of such animals are:
- Star tortoises
- Sugar gliders; and
- Slow lorises.
However, subject to certain conditions like the possession of a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permit, some animals, like the Malayan Box Turtle, may be approved by the AVS to be housed as pets.
Under the Wildlife Act, if you keep such wildlife as a pet in Singapore without being authorised to do so, you will be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months for a first offence. The maximum penalties are increased to a fine of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years if the wildlife is considered a protected wildlife species such as the spiny terrapin and blue-rumped parrot.
How Can You Practise Responsible Pet Ownership in Singapore?
Owning a pet is a privilege. A sense of duty and care is owed to not just your animals but also to the people around you. Some considerations to be aware of when owning a pet in Singapore include:
Obtaining your pets from approved sources
It is important to adopt and shop responsibly. This includes patronising shops and organisations that comply with the proper welfare criteria set out by the AVS. In other words, you should avoid buying animals from platforms that are not approved or licensed to sell animals. For example, animals are not allowed to be sold on Carousell.
In Singapore, the AVS regulates all pet shops to safeguard the welfare of animals. To run a business legally, shops must obtain a licence through a lengthy process that includes mandatory staff training on pet welfare and animal management.
The AVS has a complete grading list of approved pet shops in Singapore for you to cross-reference when you are on the hunt for your next pet.
Licensing your dog
In Singapore, all pet dogs must be licensed to facilitate tracing in the event of a disease outbreak like rabies.
You can obtain a licence for your dog by applying through the Pet Animal Licensing System (PALS) that the AVS provides. For a more detailed guide on the dog licensing process in Singapore, you may refer to the AVS website.
Cleaning up after your dog
Part of being a responsible pet owner in Singapore includes not inconveniencing others. For instance, this would involve cleaning up after your dog if it relieves itself while on a walk.
To help maintain public cleanliness and hygiene, it is advisable to bring plastic bags along with you when walking your pet dog. You may also want to bring along a water bottle to wash off any remnants or stains on the floor.
For failing to pick up after your dog, you may receive up to a $1,000 fine for a first offence.
Leashing your dog when walking it
For the safety of your dog and the general public, you should leash your dog when walking it. It is illegal to walk dogs off-leash and the penalty for breaking this law is a fine of up to $5,000.
Dog breeds that are in the list of scheduled breeds of bigger dogs (as stated above), such as the Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinscher and German Shepherd Dog, must also be muzzled in public areas.
The penalty for not muzzling your dog (if you are required to do so) is a fine of up to $5,000 for first time offences and a fine of up to $10,000 for subsequent offences. The court may also order for your dog to be put down if it has bitten or attempted to bite a person.
Treating your pet well
As a pet owner, you owe a duty of care to your animals, and failure to look after them can be animal abuse. In Singapore, animal abuse is split into two main categories:
You can be found guilty of animal cruelty if you cause or allow any unnecessary physical or psychological pain or suffering to your pet. This includes beating, kicking, torturing, ill-treating or terrifying it.
If you are a first-time offender, you may receive a fine of up to $15,000, and/or an imprisonment term of up to 18 months. Subsequent offences would lead to a fine of up to $30,000 and/or imprisonment for a period of up to 3 years.
Failure to take proper care of your pets can be considered neglect. You may face a fine of up to $10,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months for neglecting your pet. Repeat offences would land you a fine of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
In cases of animal abuse, the court may also issue disqualification orders, which would remove any animals under your possession and prevent you from owning any other animals for up to 12 months.
For more information, you may refer to our article on animal abuse offences and their penalties in Singapore.
Owning and raising animals come with great responsibilities. It is important to adhere to the laws that have been put in place to protect not just ourselves, but the people around us and our furry friends too.
Should you have more queries on the types of animals you can keep as pets in Singapore, you may reach out to NParks AVS’s Animal Response Centre at its 24-hour hotline 1800 476 1600. Alternatively, if you live in an HDB flat and are still unsure of the types of animals you may have in your home, you may contact HDB directly for advice.
Finally, if you have been charged with a pet-related offence in Singapore, such as for keeping an illegal pet, consider speaking with a criminal lawyer who will be able to assess your situation and provide you with the most suitable advice on your options.
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