An officer from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told a volunteer from animal welfare group (AWG) Bunny Wonderland not to feed a rabbit found living in a rusty, wire-bottomed cage with no food or water outside an HDB flat on 10 April.
This was so that there would be evidence of neglect, allowing the authority to take further action against the owners.
But Bunny Wonderland and its volunteers were unable to comply as it would have resulted in the death of the rabbit.
If rabbits do not eat for 24 hours or longer, they die due to gastrointestinal stasis, which causes their gut to stop moving completely.
So volunteers gave the rabbit food and water, and laid newspaper on the cage floor to protect the rabbit’s feet. They also approached the owners and tried to counsel them.
As it did not have satisfactory evidence of neglect, AVA simply sent a letter of advisory to the owners and closed the case.
Bunny Wonderland volunteers were outraged by this turn of events.
One volunteer said: “Imagine if you see a man walking around with a parang. You call the police, and the police say never mind, let him slash you first, then we can collect evidence and arrest him. That is basically what AVA suggested when they said to stop feeding the bunny.”
On 23 Apr, the New Paper reported that according to AVA, the number of complaints it received regarding animal cruelty increased in 2017 compared with the year before, even though the actual number of cases went down.
AVA attributed this to “inaccurate or grossly exaggerated” reports.
The animal welfare group firmly believes that every report it lodges is not frivolous, and the rabbits are really suffering from neglect.
Bunny Wonderland co-founder Lynne Tan said: “AVA should adopt stricter expectations when assessing whether pet owners are neglecting their pets. Rabbits should be kept inside the house, and not in the corridor where it is subjected to noise, pollutants, exposure to predator animals such as cats and dogs, and other dangers. And when these expectations are not met, AVA should not hesitate to crack down on errant owners.”