Buying Pets on Impulse
Abandonment of pets has been on the rise in recent years in Singapore. Every month, the SPCA takes in up to 400 abandoned or unwanted pets. This includes rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, cats and dogs.
Buying pets on impulse is believed to be a major cause for the astonishing increase in pet abandonment. Some people do not think about the responsibilities when getting a pet. They just feel like having a pet and bought one home on a whim, sometimes for luck.
There is a trend in Singapore of people buying pets for auspicious reasons. For example, last year 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit. Many people will buy rabbits as pets in the hope that the furry animals can bring them luck. For this year’s Dragon Year, the chinchilla is the favourite because it is called “dragon cat” in Chinese. Same thing will happen for the Year of the Rat, Year of the Dog, and so forth.
As these pets were not bought out of love for them, the likelihood of their being abandoned is very high when the novelty wears off. Some owners treat their pets like the unwanted rubbish in their house, and which are to be dumped at the year-end spring cleaning.
Abandonment of pets
The problem of buying pets on impulse seems particularly acute for rabbits. This is most probably due to the wrong assumption that the small animals are low-maintenance starter pets for children.
However, upon realizing that they need to spend time and efforts in taking care of the rabbits, these owners take the easy way out by dumping them out of the house.
Unwanted pet rabbits were often found in cages along HDB common corridors, void decks, parks, and even car parks. Many of them were in poor condition, with problems like matted fur and fur mites, and without proper food and water for days.
Over 1,000 rabbits are dumped at SPCA every year. Sad to say, most of them have to be euthanized because of limited accommodation space.
The number of unwanted pedigree dogs has also reached an alarming level in 2007, when 1,521 pedigrees were received by the SPCA. In January 2008 alone, the intake of lost or unwanted pedigrees by SPCA was 125.
Incidentally, animal abuse has also seen an increase in recent years. In 2010, there were 933 cases of alleged abuse received and investigated by the SPCA.
Education programmes and pet shows
In recent years, there are a number of education programmes and pet care shows being conducted, aiming to educate the public on responsible pet ownership and animal abuse. These are conducted by the Agri-Food and Veterinarian Authority of Singapore (AVA), SPCA and other animal welfare groups.
Hopefully, the number of abandoned pets and animal abuse cases will be reduced when more individuals learn the right attitude in treating and caring for animals.
Note: Cruelty to animals, including abandonment, is a crime and punishable by law in Singapore.
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