Given the number of animal abuse cases in recent years, pet owners should be concerned with how to treat their pets in order to stay out of trouble. These laws are rather comprehensive and may require substantial research to grasp fully.
Here at I.R.B. Law LLP, we have compiled a guide to animal welfare laws in order for you to steer clear of animal abuse.
Care for Animals
According to Section 41C of the Animals and Birds Act (Cap. 7, 2002 Rev. Ed.), owners of animals need to make efforts to ensure that their animals are provided with sufficient and appropriate food, water, and shelter. Owners must also ensure that their animals are protected from disease and injury, and not cause them any unnecessary pain or suffering.
Animal owners are also prohibited from abandoning their animals. If their animals go missing, they are to make reasonable efforts to recover them.
Owners who fail to comply with any of the above laws are fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months for a first offence, and fined up to $20,000 and/or jailed up to 2 years for subsequent offences.
Cruelty to Animals
Punishable acts of cruelty, as defined by Section 42 of the Act, include:
- Abetting or causing physical and psychological pain to an animal;
- Causing or allowing any unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal;
- Putting to work a sick or injured animal, or an animal unfit for the job; and
- Involvement in any business or incident related to animal fighting.
And according to Subsection (2), owners who fail to provide sufficient care and supervision of their animals may also be found guilty of cruelty.
Subsection (3) exempts the preparation of animals for food under above acts of cruelty unless the animals prepared have undergone unnecessary suffering.
Offenders found guilty of animal cruelty are fined up to $15,000 and/or jailed up to 18 months for first offences, and fined up to $30,000 and/or jailed up to 3 years for subsequent offences.
Offences Committed by Individuals in Animal-related Businesses
Punishments for offences of neglect and abuse by individuals in the course of conducting business relating to animals are more severe as compared to ordinary offenders. For failing to provide adequate and sufficient care for animals under their charge, such offenders face a fine of up to $40,000 and/or a jail term of up to 2 years for first offences, and fines of up to $100,000 and/or jail terms of up to 3 years for subsequent offences. The same punishments apply for cases of animal cruelty.
Courts may also issue orders to disqualify such offenders from being involved in animal-related businesses for up to 12 months. Animal-related business employers who knowingly employ individuals who have been served such disqualification orders are liable for a fine of up to $5000 and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months.
Courts may also issue disqualification orders (Animals and Birds Act, Section 43B(1)) to any individual not involved in animal-related businesses to disqualify them from owning animals for up to 12 months. Disobeying such orders, including those issued to disqualify animal-related business owners or employees carries a fine of up to $5000 and/or a jail term of up to 6 months.
Custody of Animals
Where offences of neglect or abuse have been committed, the Court may also order treatment for the animal and that it be kept under the care of authorised officers for a specified period. If the animal is in an untreatable state, the Court may order for it to be put down, and the costs of disposal of the carcass to be borne by the offender.
Keeping animals for sale, export or exhibition may only be done in licensed locations. Doing so in unlicensed locations carries a penalty of a fine of up to $5000 and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months according to Section 48 of the Animals and Birds Act.
Traffic Accidents Involving Animals
According to Section 84 of the Road Traffic Act (Cap. 276, 2004 Rev. Ed.), when a vehicle injures an animal in an accident, the driver must take the following steps.
- Upon request, provide his/her particulars to any person at the scene,
- Contact the owner of the animal to inform him/her of the accident and provide the driver’s particulars, or
- Report the accident to a police station as soon as possible within 24 hours.
Drivers involved in such accidents are also obliged to assist the injured animals as far as possible. Particulars to be provided include the license plate number of the vehicle, as well as the names and addresses of both the driver and the owner of the vehicle (if different).
Additionally, Section 84 only applies to horses, cattle, donkeys, mules, sheep, pigs, goats and dogs. This was put in place initially to provide compensation to owners of farm animals of commercial value, such as those listed, but the scope of this category of animals is currently being reviewed.
Failure to comply with any of the steps listed above is punishable by a fine of up to $3000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for first offenses, and fines of up to $5000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years. Additionally, the Court may disqualify offenders’ driving licenses for 12 months or more.