SINGAPORE – About a month ago I adopted a miniature poodle from the Voices for Animals welfare group, which rescues, rehabilitates, and houses retired breeding dogs.
Sophie’s microchip number shows that she was imported from Taiwan, and in Singapore she was used as a breeding dog, producing litters that sold for thousands of dollars per pup.
Your offspring has likely moved to a home where they can get lots of cuddling, exercise, and a balanced diet.
But these were luxuries Sophie didn’t know about.
She was stripped of bark – tissue from her vocal cords was removed – and all she can do now is rasps.
She also had a mouth full of rotten teeth and ear mites and arthritis in her hind legs, likely the result of poor diet and living in a cage.
Despite her age – the vet estimated her to be seven or eight years old – Sophie had never seen a leash and was amazed by stairs.
She froze and shivered the first time I laid her on the grass that was so alien to the concrete floor that had been her bed before.
Missing records make her medical history unclear.
She has cesarean scars but I don’t know how many litters she had and had to be tested to see if she had all of the injections.
It looks good for dogs like Sophie.
The Animal and Veterinary Service of the National Parks Board announced major changes to the licensing terms for breeding dogs on Friday, October 8th.
The changes, which come into effect next April (2022), oblige breeders to give animals in their care at least one daily opportunity to exercise, socialize and enrich.
You’ll also need to keep records of vaccinations, annual health checkups, veterinary treatments, and any other form of surgery.
Daily health checks are a must, and breeders can no longer breed dogs that are related to one another or with known harmful hereditary conditions such as epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and urinary bladder stones.
All breeding dogs can only produce one litter per year. They must be retired after the age of six and sterilized within six months.
These overhauls in an industry that has long overlooked animal welfare here are in line with what is being done in places like Australia and the UK.
Crucially, breeders must ensure the care after retirement of the breeding animals in retirement, either by continuing to care for them on the farm or by housing them far from their current fate, which in many cases means death.
They’re pausing, however, at an outright ban on puppy mills – commercial breeding facilities notorious for intensively breeding puppies in inhumane conditions.
These changes have been a long time coming.
For years animal welfare organizations have been calling on the authorities to impose stricter measures against companies that exploit animals for profit.
But at least the breeders will now be forced to set up a pension plan for their animals.
The latest changes reinforce the message that pets are not a commodity that can be used and disposed of.
When asked if the new measures will cause puppy prices to rise, AVS said any increases are related to sterilization costs and license fees.
But those looking to purchase a pet need to realize that the real cost of that pooch in the window is more than just dollars and cents. Behind this happy pup could be a miserable, neglected parent.
Ask anyone who has adopted an ex-breeding animal and they will tell you the rewards for years of neglect, despite the high cost of treatment, are priceless.
Today, after about a month of short walks twice a day and a diet of boiled meat and vegetables, Sophie’s hind legs are strong enough to stand on two legs and ask for my affection or treats.
She can also climb up and down stairs with ease, often marking the last step with a small hop.
Sophie is a transformed dog. For me it is priceless.