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SPCA: 79% surge in reported animal cruelty cases marks highest in 11 years

SPCA in Singapore noted a 79% surge in animal cruelty cases in 2023, rising from 511 in 2022 to 915. Online advocates demand stricter law enforcement against pet abandonment, encouraging adoption of abandoned pets as a compassionate alternative.

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SINGAPORE: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has reported a staggering 79% increase in cases of animal cruelty and welfare concerns in 2023 compared to the previous year, marking the highest number of reports received in over a decade.

According to the latest Animal Cruelty and Welfare Report 2023 released on Tuesday (30 January), the SPCA revealed that the reported cases soared from 511 in 2022 to 915 in 2023.

Among these, 285 were instances of abandoned animals, and 30 cases involved hoarding, encompassing a total of 480 animals.

Highlighting a concerning trend, the report also disclosed six cases of animal cruelty perpetrated by youths, underscoring the need for comprehensive education and awareness programs.

The SCPA shared on Facebook, “These are only the cases we know about. How many more are suffering in silence?”

61.2% reported cases linked to welfare and neglect issues

In 2023, 38.8% of the reported cases involved abuse and cruelty, with the remaining 61.2% linked to issues of welfare and neglect.

“More than two-thirds of the cases were related to dissatisfactory living conditions for pets,” the report mentioned.

558 of the cases include instances of overcrowding and prolonged confinement.

Notably, pet abandonment cases saw a drastic two-fold increase from 2022, with 137 cases involving 285 animals attended to by the charity last year.

Among these, small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, terrapins, and birds accounted for half of the abandonment cases, with distressing incidents like 17 guinea pigs discovered crammed inside thermal GrabFood bags.

Usually, neglected rabbits are discovered in cramped and unsanitary environments, while abandoned hamsters are left without food or water.

“High-rise syndrome” 

Moreover, the report indicated that the SPCA typically addressed an average of four to six cases of “high-rise syndrome” each week.

This condition involves animals sustaining injuries after falling from heights, often due to insufficient safety precautions such as window barriers.

“More often than not, these cases are preventable,” SPCA said.

Further alarming were reports of abuse involving pet businesses, totalling 31 incidents.

Among these, concerns were raised over pony rides organized by Gallop Stables at a bazaar and alleged footage depicting mistreatment of a dog by a trainer from K9 Connection.

Additionally, there were 30 instances of hoarding, encompassing approximately 480 animals last year.

Motivation behind animal abuse

Last year, Singapore’s state media outlet, The Straits Times (ST), reported on the various motivations behind animal abuse, which can range from seeking amusement, and battling boredom, to displacing anger.

According to senior forensic psychologist June Fong from Promises Healthcare, individuals may abuse animals as a means to alleviate negative emotions like loneliness and frustration.

Others resort to such behaviour as a form of retaliation, either against the animal itself or its owner.

In 2023, SPCA documented a significant number of cat abuse cases, tallying 11 incidents between January and March.

Regarding instances involving young people mistreating animals, motivations may stem from boredom or the pursuit of excitement. However, Ms Fong suggested that a history of domestic violence or childhood abuse could also contribute to such behaviour.

While both youth and adults may experience similar urges to harm animals, Ms Fong noted that young individuals often display higher impulsivity levels, making it challenging for them to exercise self-control or rationalize their actions.

One notable incident occurred in December 2022, when a cat tragically perished after a boy allegedly threw it from the 22nd storey of a Housing Board block in Boon Lay.

The boy attributed his actions to feelings of familial neglect, highlighting the complex interplay of personal experiences in cases of animal cruelty.

Netizens call for action from relevant authorities

As instances of animal cruelty escalate, there’s a growing chorus online urging relevant authorities to take action, advocating for stricter legislation or enhanced safeguards for these animals.

One user asserted, “Singapore needs more animal welfare laws!”

Another plea to cease the importation of animals was voiced, accompanied by urging individuals to opt for adopting abandoned pets instead.

Users also echoed demands for more rigorous law enforcement targeting irresponsible pet owners who abandon their animals.

According to one user, pet abandonment might be linked to the novelty associated with the Chinese zodiac of each respective year.

Once the initial excitement fades, animals like rabbits, roosters, hamsters, and dogs are often discarded.

One user responded, concurring and mentioning that in 2023, they had heard numerous accounts of abandoned rabbits, presumably attributable to the preceding year being the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac calendar.

A user commented, “Financially, these pet owners can’t even take care of themselves, so how on earth can they afford to add another “family member.”

The SPCA encourages the public to remain vigilant and report any cases of animal abuse or neglect.

Additionally, they reiterated their hotline number (6287 5355) and encouraged online reporting via their website.

It added: “Although the SPCA does not have the authority to enforce laws, prosecute offenders, or remove animals from their guardians, we play a critical role in the fight against animal cruelty by gathering credible witnesses and evidence, providing guidance on animal welfare issues and providing investigative support.”

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2023 then rise up? why. because all our covid travel restrictions were lifted? sus. dun tell me singaporeans abuse animals more than FTs, hor.

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