SINGAPORE : From next year, dogs and cats brought in from countries with a low risk of rabies will no longer need to be quarantined.
This is part of a review by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to ease import restrictions for animals, while keeping Singapore free from rabies.
Under current rules, new pet dogs or cats that are imported have to be placed on a 30-day quarantine at the AVA's Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station.
This is to ensure Singapore remains rabies-free, which it has been for the past 50 years.
The only exception is for pets brought in from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, which are free from the deadly disease.
But from January, the quarantine-exempt list will be expanded to include pets from low-risk countries such as Japan, Hong Kong and Norway.
The authorities will focus on blood tests, rabies vaccines and microchip identification of the animals to guard against infection.
On another pet-related matter, the AVA - which oversees the import and licensing of pets and pet shops - is making it compulsory for pet shop operators to be trained in areas like animal care and management.
Dr Maliki Osman, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of National Development, said: "Pet shops play a very critical role in ensuring that pet owners understand their responsibility. We do not want a situation where pet owners go to the shop and they buy a pet, and...that is it, they have a pet, and they think they can be good pet owners."
Dr Maliki said pet shops will be able to pass off their knowledge and animal management skills to pet owners, and help them learn how to handle their new pets.
Authorities receive about 8,000 pet-related complaints every year, of which 60 include dog biting incidents.
Other complaints include stray pets, failure to clean up after dogs and incessant dog barking.
Over 300 abandoned pets are sent each month to animal shelter, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.