The 'puppy mills' of Singapore

The 'puppy mills' of Singapore

CNNGo reader Natasya Ong calls for Singaporeans to stop supporting the country's "puppy factories"
Singapore puppy mill
Dogs are often kept in pitiful conditions at Singapore's puppy mills.

Picture this: a happy customer walks out of the pet store with his new furry friend. After paying hundreds of dollars for that purebred puppy, he hopes that it may grow into just how he wanted -- healthy, handsome, easily house trained and fitting in well with his lifestyle.

Posing no questions to the dog seller on the dog's origins, trusting the claim that the pups are from “licensed pet dealers” or “professional breeders,” he may have just purchased a product of the puppy mill. 

Meeting the demands for the 45 pet stores in Singapore, thousands of dogs spend their entire lives being 'puppy machines' at the kennels of Pasir Ris Farmway 2, the source of 98 percent of all pet-store puppies in Singapore.

These puppy factories are run by dog breeders whose sole purpose is to make a living from the dogs they breed, most times neglecting the basic needs of the animals. 

Crammed into tiny squalid cages, their coats filthy and the floors filled with their faeces, these dogs are not given basic veterinary care or taken out for walks. Female dogs are made to breed repetitively (a female dog should only breed once a year) till her fertility wanes, after which one of her daughters will then take her place.

Chances are slim that both the puppies and parents were screened for genetic diseases common to their breed. Sometimes, when the puppies are sick, injured or deformed, most of them are put down as they are unlikely to fetch a good price. 

The real cost of the puppy industry

Singapore puppy millsDogs are often kept in squalid cages and forced to breed incessantly.

In the recent Pasir Ris puppy mills case, 75 dogs were abandoned when their owner gave up his business. Many dogs suffered various serious illnesses including tick fever, skin problems and general neglect.

Hip x-rays, blood tests and eye certification cost money and are conveniently ignored by breeders keen to avoid any expenses and only make profits from their commodity.

So while these puppies sell for close to S$1,000 each, most customers do not know they have purchased a ticking time bomb. This is the real cost behind the cruelty of this “cute” puppy, not the hefty price tag.

Over the past few months, animal welfare groups have made a joint call to end this puppy-mill misery. Groups include Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), Cat Welfare Society (CWS) and House Rabbit Society of Singapore (HRSS).

They are appealing for higher industry standards, stricter regulations and licensing system and an increase in rigorous enforcement in the pet trade by AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority).

“Impulse buys from pet shops or pet farms often result in the animal being given up later because owners were not aware of the needs of their dog --exercising, socialization, obedience training, proper diet, veterinary care," says executive officer of SPCA Singapore, Deirdre Moss.

"Adopting is cheaper and sometimes don’t cost a single cent, but it does not mean that you are not getting a quality animal in terms of loyalty, companionship, intelligence.” 

Although not illegal, there is still a major lack of criteria for entry into the puppy-mill business. This results in unqualified individuals setting up this breeding businesses with little regard to the animals' welfare or health.

Animal welfare groups have also voiced their encouragement to educate the public on puppy mills, encourage adoptions and are working closely with the AVA to clamp down on this problem. 

Three ways to help

Singapore puppy millsDogs in puppy mills are often plagued by illnesses and neglect.1. Make adoption your first option

Adopting a puppy instead of buying one is the best way to strike a blow against puppy mills. Visit local shelters like SPCA, ASD, where dozens of dogs are just waiting for homes. Not only you will be saving a life, you will not be putting money into those breeders’ pockets.

2. Spread the word

If a friend or family member is planning on buying a puppy, advise them not to buy from a pet store. Let them know there are perfectly healthy dogs at shelters waiting to be adopted.

3. Make a stand

Choose not to buy your next pet from a pet store or Internet site. Refuse to buy pets or supplies from any pet store that sells puppies. Never buy a puppy with the idea that you are “rescuing” him or her from the shop. While your intentions may be good, your “rescue” money goes back into making more space for more dogs to breed.


Natasya Ong submitted this piece as part of CNNGo’s CityPulse section. To find out what other stories we are looking for, go to our CityPulse page.