SINGAPORE – Pet owners can now opt to quarantine their dogs and cats coming into Singapore at home.
Smart collar tags will be used to ensure that safe distancing measures are followed properly. If the pets leave the quarantine premises, it will alert staff at the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS).
This is part of the AVS’ efforts to prevent animal diseases from entering the country and at the same time improve animal welfare here.
While animals on the move typically spend months in quarantine facilities, the option of home quarantine will be available to dogs and cats with health conditions which need to be monitored closely by owners, as well as pets imported from countries with lower risk of animal disease.
Exporting countries are assessed and categorised into groups A to D, based on the level of risk of rabies within their local animal populations, with Category A countries posing the lowest risk, and Category D countries posing the highest risk.
The move was announced on Friday (Nov 26) by Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How at the opening of the new animal quarantine centre in Jalan Lekar for dogs and cats entering Singapore.
The facility, which replaces the Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station, has kennels and catteries equipped with CCTVs and sensors to monitor the animals’ health and safety.
Pet owners visiting the facility to walk their dogs will wear sensor tags which will beep when they go too close to other owners to ensure that the dogs are kept apart.
Previously, officers had to be stationed in the field to ensure the safe distancing of the pets when owners were walking them.
The animals are kept in separate kennels and catteries to prevent the spread of rabies, for instance, through dogs biting each other.
AVS said it would tap data analytics technology for biosurveillance to improve animal welfare.
But the fees for quarantine and services at the new facility have not increased.
AVS said it is also fitting ship vessels with CCTVs and drones fitted with thermal cameras to inspect consignments of pigs before they are allowed to enter Singapore. Inspectors will look out for herd diseases such as the highly contagious swine fever and lameness.
Officers who have to board the ships to inspect the pigs will not have to be exposed to Covid-19 risk by coming into contact with foreign crew.
Separately, AVS said it is building a central database for animal health to manage biosecurity risks and quarantine operations for pets, imported wildlife, horses and laboratory animals.
This will integrate with the current system the data of animal health status, licensing, inspection and feedback data collected from the import and export of animals, as well as from AVS’ laboratories, pet shops, commercial pet breeders and boarders, veterinary clinics, and other equine and wildlife premises.
AVS aims to complete the central database by 2024.
“The health and well-being of our people are closely interconnected with that of animals in our community,” said Mr Tan.
“The new animal quarantine centre plays an important role in supporting our efforts to safeguard animal and public health.
“Through the use of technology, we will enhance our biosurveillance capabilities to better monitor emerging threats from animal-borne diseases, and prevent such diseases from being introduced into Singapore.”