Owning a pet in Singapore

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The animals that are allowed to be owned as pets in Singapore are: dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, chinchillas, red-eared terrapins, birds, fish, land hermit crabs, green tree frogs, and Malayan box turtles.

General regulations

Regardless of housing type, non-domesticated animals such as snakes and tarantulas are illegal in Singapore.[1] Other banned animals include mammals such as hedgehogs and sugar gliders.[2] Singapore sets strict rules and punishments concerning the importing of illegal animals into Singapore. This can be due to reasons such as the fear of certain animals bringing in diseases into the country and the inhumane ways in which the animals are smuggled in.

In 2018, a man was fined $12800 for smuggling in approximately 100 tarantulas.[3] Tarantulas are not allowed to be kept as pets in Singapore and some of the tarantulas were even of an endangered species. On a separate occasion in 2018, a man was sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment for importing 2 birds without seeking approval from the authorities.[4] Furthermore, he had smuggled them in through cruel means by placing them in socks which were stuffed into his pants, causing the birds to be in extremely poor health.  

Housing regulations

A list of dog breeds that are not allowed in Singapore HDB flats. Infographic from MustShareNews.

The regulations for pets vary according to housing types. These regulations pertain to the size and number of animals allowed per household. The differing regulations can be attributed to the amount of livable space in each housing type and the proximity of neighbours.


In Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, pet owners can only keep one HDB approved dog per flat. The dog should be licensed, should not be taller than 40cm when on its fours and should not be heavier than 10kg. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to SGD$4,000. There are currently 60 approved dog breeds, all of which are smaller dogs such as terriers, pugs, and shih tzus. The full list of HDB approved dogs can be found on the HDB website (official website).

Since 2014, aspiring pet owners living in HDB flats were allowed to adopt local mixed-breed dogs that weighed not more than 15kg and is not taller than 50cm under Project ADORE (official website).[5] However, it is mandatory for these pets to be microchipped and to attend obedience lessons. In June 2017, Project ADORE expanded to allow the rehoming of large retired service dogs in HDB flats.[6] Previously, dog handlers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were only allowed to adopt their service canines if they lived in private properties.The following year, a new one-year programme now allowed members of the public to adopt retired sniffer dogs (official website).[7] This gives more people the opportunity to adopt a sniffer dog and for these dogs to find a home after retirement.

Based on the HDB regulations, cats are prohibited as they may cause inconvenience to surrounding neighbours by roaming around, shedding fur and making loud sounds. Chong Pang has a “Love Cats Programme” where cat lovers are allowed to keep their cats in HDB flat.[8] This programme is a first of its kind in Singapore, starting in 2012 and has since been extended. There has been plans to expand this programme into other parts of Singapore, which may eventually remove the rule of prohibiting cats in HDB flats.

Private property

In private properties such as condominiums and landed properties, pet owners are allowed to own a maximum of 3 dogs - either 1 scheduled dog and 2 non-scheduled dogs, or 3 non-scheduled dogs. The full list of scheduled dogs can be found on the AVA website (official website). Scheduled dogs refer to dog breeds which are deemed potentially dangerous as they are known to have attacked people. As to whether cats can be owned, rules differ according to different private property managements.

Process of adopting a pet

People who are interested in owning pets can choose to adopt from the following animal adoption centres:

In order to adopt an animal, potential pet owners will need to pay an adoption fee, which usually comes with certain services such as vaccination and sterilisation.[9] The adoption fee and services differs slightly according to the adoption company and the animal type. Adoption fees for dogs are around SGD$180, while fees for cats range from SGD$80 to SGD$100. Adoption fees for rabbits range from SGD$10 to SGD$50.

Adopting an animal may be a stringent process as the adoption centre has to ensure that the pet will be with a suitable family and home environment. Thus for certain animals, centres such as SPCA may request to view the potential owner's home and assess whether the family members are able to interact with the animal. SPCA even lets the potential owners undergo a trial or probation period of the pet staying in the house. The whole application process may last for a few weeks before the potential adoptee is certified or allowed to bring the pet home. They will also be required to produce certain certifications such as their identity card.

Process of buying a pet

Buying a pet is more expensive that adopting one although the process is slightly shorter than adoption. Potential pet owners can buy a pet from reputable and responsible pet breeders and pet shops.[10] They should make sure that the pets were not from pet mills where pets are bred and housed in inhumane conditions. Potential pet owners can do a simple check by surveying the pet shop, keeping in mind the animals’ living conditions.

Potential pet owners could also ask to see certificates to check if the pets were brought in from registered pet breeders. Potential pet owners will have to complete the AVA Pet Purchase Declaration (PPD) before purchasing the pet. This form will be provided by the pet retailer. This form checks the suitability of the individual to own the pet. Individuals who purchase dogs will have to access the form themselves through the Pet Animal Licensing System (PALS) (official website) when the pet retailer has successfully given the pet owner the ownership of the dog.

Bringing a pet overseas

Before leaving Singapore with their pet, pet owners have to check the pet import requirements of their destination.[11] They will then have to apply for an AVA export licence via the LicenceOne (AVA e-Licensing) website (official website) within 30 days of leaving Singapore. A veterinary health certificate has to be obtained by bring their pet for a check up at any AVA-licensed veterinarian for examination. Pet owners will also need to check if their destination requires a pre-export inspection to be done. Additionally, they are required to submit an online booking request for an inspection via AVA's Intelligent Food Approval & Safety Tracking System (iFAST) 5 days before departure (official website). Failure to do so will incur an inspection fee.

On the day of flight, the inspection has to be completed minimum 4 hours before the departure time at the Changi Animal & Plant Quarantine Station. Pet owners should also liaise with their airline and the Ground Handling Agent to make the necessary flight arrangements for their pets. Pet owners should ensure that they have the necessary documents at hand such as a copy of AVA Export Licence, original Veterinary Health Certificate and additional supporting documents required by the authorities of the destination.

Animal safety and welfare

In the event that the pet is missing, pet owners should call the SPCA immediately. SPCA will help by advertising the situation in the newspaper and on their website.[12] Pet owners should also call the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority to check if their pet was found by someone. They can also appeal to the neighbouring residents for help by creating a lost pet flyer.

To create an effective flyer, the pet owner should include the following information:[13]

  • Their personal contact details.
  • Clear photo of the missing pet.
  • Name, physical appearance and character traits of the pet.
  • Any medical conditions of the pet.
  • Where the pet was last seen.
  • A sentence to make an emotional connection with the readers. (Eg. ‘Please help to find our beloved pet.’, ‘My family misses her greatly.’)

Alternatively, pet owners may refer to readily available online templates.[14]

Pet owners should ensure that their pet has a collar tag with the owner's contact information. Furthermore, owners can get their pet microchipped so that information can be retrieved by the SPCA and AVA when the missing pet is brought in.

Under the Animal and Birds (Amendment) Act 2014, animal abuse is punishable by law.[15] Animal cruelty is inclusive of neglect, abandonment and acts of cruelty. In the event that individuals witness a live act of animal cruelty, they should report the situation to the police and the SPCA. They should mention details such as the features and clothing of the offender, the condition of the animal and the location. If possible, capture videos or pictures of the situation as evidence. When witnessing other acts of animal abuse, witnesses can also choose to fill up a cruelty complaint form on the SPCA website (official website).

Hotlines to call

For missing pets related cases:

  • SPCA: 62875355
  • Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA): 18004761600

To report acts of animal cruelty and abuse:

  • Police: 999
  • SPCA: 62875355 ext 9

To report cases of wild animals that are either in distress or badly injured:

  • ACRES Wildlife Rescue Hotline: 97837782

References / Citations

  1. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Wild Animals as Pets”. SPCA. Retrieved from:  http://www.spca.org.sg/animalwelfare_details.asp?id=120
  2. For a full list of banned animals in Singapore: http://www.spca.org.sg/animalwelfare_details.asp?id=120
  3. “Man fined S$12,800 for illegally importing, keeping about 100 tarantulas”. Channelnewsasia. Updated August 2, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/man-fined-tarantula-smuggling-illegal-wildlife-10582590
  4. Toh, Ting Wei. “ Man jailed six weeks for illegal import of two birds and animal cruelty”. Straitstimes. September 19, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/man-jailed-six-weeks-for-illegal-import-of-two-birds-and-animal-cruelty
  5. Ministry of National Development. “Project ADORE”. MND. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mnd.gov.sg/our-work/engaging-our-communities/project-adore
  6. Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence. “Retired Sniffer Dogs from K-9 and Military Working Dog Units to be Rehomed Under Pilot Expansion of Project ADORE”. May 9, 2017. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mnd.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/view/retired-sniffer-dogs-from-k-9-and-military-working-dog-units-to-be-rehomed-under-pilot-expansion-of-project-adore
  7. Koh, Fabian. Lee, Jan. “New scheme for retired sniffer dogs launched”. Straitstimes. August 14, 2018. Accessed on 27 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/new-scheme-for-retired-sniffer-dogs-launched
  8. Khew, Carolyn. “Chong Pang's cat project gets 2-year extension, expansion plans”. Straitstimes. January 11, 2015. Accessed on 27 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/chong-pangs-cat-project-gets-2-year-extension-expansion-plans
  9. “Adoption information”. SPCA. Accessed on 27 January 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.spca.org.sg/services_adoption_information.asp
  10. “Which animals are allowed”. AVA. Updated November 23, 2018. Accessed on 27 January 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.ava.gov.sg/explore-by-sections/pets-and-animals/owning-a-pet/getting-a-pet
  11. “Exporting dogs and cats.” AVA. Updated July 24, 2018. Accessed on 27 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ava.gov.sg/explore-by-sections/pets-and-animals/bringing-animals-into-singapore-exporting/exporting-dogs-cats
  12. “Our Services : Lost-and-Found Pets > What To Do”. SPCA. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.spca.org.sg/services_lost_found_pets.asp
  13. Mlynar, Philip. “7 Dos and Don’ts for making a lost dog flyer”. Dogster. March 12, 2014. Accessed on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/lost-dog-making-flyer-tips-dos-and-donts
  14. Online lost and found pet template:  https://search.petfbi.org/flyer.html
  15. “Our Services: Inspectorate > How You Can Help”. SPCA.  Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.spca.org.sg/services_inspectorate.asp