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HDB notice to dog owners attracts criticism over inhumane advice

HDB notice for dog owners

A photo of what seems to be a notice by the Housing Development Board, Ang Mo Kio Branch has been circulated online. The notice writes that the branch received feedback about a dog barking in the middle of the night at Block 601, Ang Mo Kio Ave 5.

The notice also reminded dog owners to take proper care of their dogs and not to let them create nuisance for other residents.

SPCA's webpage indicating the breeds of dogs approved by HDB.
SPCA's webpage indicating the breeds of dogs approved by HDB.

The response to the HDB's notice has been largely negative due to the suggestion that dog owners might consider the surgery procedure of debarking to keep the barking of their dogs under control. There were also suggestions dog owners might use training collars to control the barking.

Most of the comments posted online condemned the notice. One commenter said, "I find it rather disturbing... so this is what we should teach our kids about dogs who bark?"

"How can they write this!" wrote another. "Naturally dog barks and we human talk. So if we talk too loud or shout too loud we must go surgery? Inhumane."

However, there were also those who defended HDB. "Its not right of HDB but the owners are to blame. I love dogs but it can be damn annoying they just can't stop barking esp when people are trying to rest. It all boils down to the damn owner!"

Debarking is a surgical procedure performed by a veterinarian in which a section of a dog’s vocal cord is removed to reduce the volume of its bark. Debarking does not eliminate the sound of the bark completely. Sometimes the dog can also regain its bark should the vocal cord regenerate.

Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) states in its educational materials that debarking should be considered as a solution of last resort.

HDB can deny the dog owner the right to keep the dog at the residence, should it choose to act on feedback from neighbours who are unhappy with the dog, even if the dog is on its approved list and has been licensed by AVA.

Neighbours who dislike dogs have shown to be unsympathetic when it comes to complaining to HDB on such matters as seen in the story of Mr Tan Cheng Chuan, who was asked to give up one of his two dogs while being terminally ill.

Mr Tan's case drew the attention of Law Minister Mr K Shanmugum, who remarked that, "A bit of compassion and sympathy will go a long way but some amongst us can only think of ourselves, and can't even consider the wishes of Mr Tan, who is very ill."

What dogs sound like when they are debarked: