Rabbits are NOT for Easter.

As Easter draws near, the iconic rabbit and its colourful Easter eggs would probably come to mind. With its cheery smile, it offers a chocolate egg in its woven basket. How warming that thought is - friendly animals and yummy treats.

While the age old story of the Easter bunny might intrigue one and all, we must remember that these are after all, not real animals. Rabbits (not the Easter Bunny), have an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years. While Easter comes every once a year, your pet rabbit will be with you every day of that same year. There is no holiday in taking care of your rabbit and neither will it carry a basket of chocolate eggs, unfortunately.

It may be cute, cuddly and put a smile on your face like the Easter Bunny. Yet, we must remember that the real bunny needs time, effort and lots of love from its owner as well. Do not buy a rabbit just because it's Easter! A rabbit is a commitment that does not last for a day but for its entire lifespan.

Let the Easter Bunny remain a figment of our imagination but acknowledge and understand that the rabbits that share the earth with us require a lifetime of commitment.

How Rabbits are connected to Easter: Find out how the story of the Easter Bunny might have come about!

An Easter Bunny's Story: A poignant reminder not to buy a rabbit just because it's Easter. Read about this rabbit that was abandoned after Easter and how it met with a sad ending.

The Interactive Bun: Can't decide if you should get a rabbit or not? Play the games to guide you into making the right choice!

10 Things to Ask Yourself before Getting a Rabbit: Ask yourself these important questions before you bring a rabbit into your home!

For more information on rabbits visit the House Rabbit Society (Singapore)!

Rabbit care - myths and facts!

MYTHS FACTS
Rabbits make excellent pets for children. Contrary to popular belief, rabbits and young children generally do not do well together. Rabbits are delicate animals; they need someone who is responsible and ready to commit to their care for a minimum period of 6 or more years.
Rabbits can be bought as gifts especially during Easter because they are representative of the Easter bunny. Rabbits belong in the wild, so they should be set free after Easter is over. Rabbits should NEVER be obtained on impulse or as gifts for your children or friends. You should also never choose to abandon your rabbits as they are domesticated and cannot fend for themselves in the wild. Animal abandonment is a crime and punishable by law.
Rabbits eat only carrots. A healthy rabbit diet should consist of unlimited fresh timothy hay, green leafy vegetables, quality commercial pellets and fresh water. Occasional treats can also be given sparingly. Guide to a rabbit's diet.
Rabbits should be picked up by their ears. -The correct way to carry a rabbit is to slide one hand under the rabbit's front paws in the direction of its hind end and place your other hand on the rabbit's rump.-Lift the rabbit up, supporting the entire body with both hands.-Hold it close to you.-A secure rabbit is less likely to bite, scratch or kick. Be very gentle and careful.-A rabbit's skeleton is fragile and if it struggles, it may get injured. Guide to handling a rabbit.
Rabbits do not need to be sterilized as it will not benefit the rabbit. Sterilization is only for cats and dogs. Rabbits that are sterilised make better pets.Spaying or neutering your rabbit is the best thing you can do for it. Female rabbits will live longer because you eliminate the possibility of ovarian, uterine or mammary tumours. Your rabbit will be less aggressive and have more reliable litter box habits. Most importantly, sterilisation prevents any unwanted litters. More on sterilization of rabbits. Why breeding is bad.
Rabbits cannot be trained. Rabbits can be easily litter-trained. Rabbits are intelligent animals that can be taught to go to a specific place to pee and poo. Pick a spot where the rabbit likes to go to and place the litter box there. Encourage it to go inside the box for its business by putting in lots of hay for it to munch on while doing its "work". More on litter-training your rabbit.
Rabbits enjoy being bathed. -Rabbits do not need to be bathed. In fact, bathing is a source of stress for many rabbits. Most rabbits are fastidious groomers and will groom their coats to a nice, clean finish.-Consequently, rabbits can end up swallowing a lot of fur and develop hairballs.-To help reduce the amount of fur your rabbit ingests, brush it at least once a week in the direction of the fur growth.-If your rabbit is shedding heavily, brush it everyday. It may be easier during these periods to gently pull out loose hair with your fingers and follow up with a brushing.-Use a bristle brush or pin brush as a rabbit's skin is very delicate.Guide to grooming a rabbit.
Rabbits like to be left alone and are solitary creatures. Rabbits are social animals and would appreciate a companion of its kind. More on how rabbits bond with other animals and its kind.

"Pets are like Us" talks! (next one on 31 March!)

At Ang Mo Kio Public Library last Saturday, we met with an enthusiastic crowd comprising of parents and children at the Activity Room all ready to find out more about the similarities between pets and themselves! Laughter and smiles filled the room during the presentation and all the children present received a free goodie bag too!

If you missed that session, don't fret! Come this Saturday, 31st March 2012, 2pm to the Tampines Regional Library (Activity Room). Our speaker, Ms Phyllis Hui will be presenting a talk on the same topic "Are Pets like Us?"

We have prepared quizzes and every child who attends the talk will receive a free goodie bag* from us! There is also a special interactive exhibit on display.

So remember to mark your calendars and we hope to see you there!

*While stocks last.

Ambassador Appreciation Day 2012

The first Ambassador Appreciation Day 2012!

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) held its first Ambassador Appreciation Day last Saturday, 24th March 2012. It was a cozy affair with our student and teacher ambassadors coming down to show their support!

The Ambassador Day is held in recognition of students and teachers who have given their time and effort in 2011 towards raising awareness on Food Safety and Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO). Through colourful and creative proposals and projects from a whole array of schools, we are heartened to see the voracity and passion of both teacher and student ambassadors in their united efforts in raising awareness.

Dr Choo, Director of Communications and Corporate Relations with the winning group for the RPO Ambassador Project - Onigiri comprising of members Genell Lee, Ang Miaoling and Tan Ming Rui!

These three lovely ladies came up with four e-books for children. Not only did they manage to engage the audience with the handdrawn characters and an entertaining storyline, they seamlessly included the RPO theme into their storybooks! Their project definitely deserved the top prize with its ability to captivate and educate!

Dr Choo with the Student Ambassador Winners- Tan Che Wei, Michael Jossi, Genell Lee, Christina Tay, Ang Miaoling and Tan Ming Rui.

Dr Choo with the Teacher Ambassadors - Mr Aaron Cheng, Ms Salimah bte Salim and Ms Jean Ong.

Dr Choo with the Teacher Ambassadors - Ms Joanne Ang, Mdm Teo Kiah Huan and Mrs Bala.

Through sharing of presentations by the winning teams and students from The Moppets Club from Ngee Ann Poly, these student and teacher ambassadors contributed new and innovative ideas on how we can continue and improve our efforts in raising awareness.

We are happy to say that we were also able to help the students complete their own school goals, such as Final Year Projects and their Community Involvement Programme (CIP).

Join us!

If you have a passion for animal welfare or feel strongly about food safety, we want YOU!

We are extending an invitation to all teachers and students to join us in becoming a Teacher or Student Ambassador!

Students:

To become a Student Ambassador, a teacher-in-charge is required as a liaison. Please let your teacher know of your interest and encourage him/her to contact us.

Teachers:
To become a RPO Teacher Ambassador or register your students as student ambassadors, come join us at the Ambassador Day this Saturday!

To find out more on becoming a Student Ambassador simply click on this link:

/avaoffice/programmes.html#three

We hope to see you in our Ambassador Programme this year!

Student Ambassadors for the year 2012 will receive these cute and colourful badges upon completion of the project:

Let your imagination and creativity run free while you help raise awareness on food safety or RPO!

Friends Of The Animals: Move over Queen Elizabeth, there's a new boss in town

Hi all, it's time for our second post of our fortnightly blog series on "Friends of the Animals". The series is a collection of blogposts relating animal lovers' experiences with their pets or their passion for animals. AVA staff, together with animal lovers from the animal welfare groups, will be contributing to this blog.

Today, one of our colleagues, Dr Prabhpreet Kaur from the Animal Quarantine section, shared the antics of her Mini Pinscher, Choti, the family's pride and joy. Enjoy reading!

My family has long been convinced that even though we are no longer under the British Empire, parts of it have survived. Small, brown parts that occupy maximal possible space on our beds and couches, forcing us to do their bidding and making us hop to it whenever they fancy. I refer, of course, to our Mini Pinscher, Choti, also known as the Queen.

Choti fell into our lives 12 years ago. She was the unwanted pup from an accidental litter. My friend called and said his cousin had a surprise litter and they were looking to rehome them. We went, had a look, and naturally picked the one that no one else wanted (She was small, weird looking and had a tendency of trying to hide under the washing machine (and then get stuck there)), thinking, "She's small and runty, should be a relatively low maintenance dog, let's go with her." Little did we know...

The tyranny started at a young age. She was a quiet obedient little brown dog while she was growing up, kept in place by our older mongrel. The tables turned when the mongrel went blind tho. All of a sudden, the hierarchy was flipped, little quiet meek brown dog went from being Minion to QUEEN! And boy oh boy did she exert that authority. Old Dog would quietly wait for the Queen to start dinner before eating hers, would give up the bigger, softer cushion for her (even though both had ridiculously large cushions and could barely fill 10% of them, the Queen naturally wanted the bigger one).

When Old Dog passed away, the Queen was saddened that she lost her only subject but she quickly realised how malleable the humans around her were and then the true human training started.

Caesar Milan would be horrified

She began slowly, by sitting on the edge of the couch while we watched tv, just taking up a small space and not really being an invasive species. Over time though, we found that somehow, she would have most of the couch and we'd be hanging off the edge. She would get her food in an enrichment toy, which she had to roll around and the food would fall out and she could then eat it. She learned that if she rolled it towards us, we would automatically move it around for a bit and more food would fall out. Thus she learned how useful humans truly are.

This went on and on and now, she just has to look at us and we are expected to 1) figure out what she wants and then 2) act on it immediately. If we fail to comply, she will very passive aggressively stroll over to her cushion, look out over the patio and (in my mind), plot our slow and painful demise. This act generally sends the family scurrying rapidly around trying to figure out how to appease the Queen.

But she's got a heart of gold

Mini Pinschers, as a breed, can be somewhat nervous dogs that can resort to barking incessantly or snapping when faced with danger. The good thing about having a Queen dog is that she has nothing to be nervous about, so she's got a great disposition. She's never needed a muzzle at the vets, even for painful procedures, and generally tolerates everything and maintains her composure at all times.

The only times she shows any form of undignified behaviour, such as jumping around and wagging her tail like a mere ordinary dog, is when we are cutting papaya or carrot (both her favourites). If a family member is upset, she is the first person to find them and will put herself in their lap, completely sure in the knowledge that her mere presence should immediately calm us and make us happier.

When she decides you are worthy of petting her, she will come and position herself directly under your hand (if you're sitting down) and wait for you to take the hint. She is extremely tolerant of all the injustices we inflict on her (such as regular showers, dental cleaning and walks with a leash) and is possibly the best dog I have seen around anyone, adults, children or other animals, mainly because of her passive aggressive "just walk away from it and someone else will deal with it" behaviour.

Choti is the queen of our monarchy and we love her dearly. She keeps all of us in check and our lives wouldn't be as colourful without her.

Post Event: CATS Classifieds Pet Carnival – Olympics by the Beach

With blue skies and the occasional breeze, the weather seemed perfect for a day out at the beach. Pet owners and their furry friends headed down for some fun in the sun where they got to see, hear and smell (for the dogs, at least) all the excitement and buzz in the air!

With over 20 booths ranging from the sale of pet products to a ready supply of pet care information provided by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the animal welfare groups, pet owners definitely had lots to explore and buy for their pets!

At our booth, puzzles and games were laid out for all ages to play! These games contained our RPO messages which meant that participants could have fun while being educated on better pet ownership. We met many people who share a love for pets as well. It was indeed heartening to see many adults and children, especially, wanting their best for their pets by showing a keen interest on learning how to take better care of them!

In accordance with the theme of 'Olympics by the Beach', a line-up of competitions from Champion Catcher to The Sportiest Looking Pair was held for pets and their owners to participate in.

At 11pm, a ready crowd gathered at the stage in anticipation for the first competition to be held that day - Royal Canin's Canine High Jump.

After many "oohs and aahs", it was a red and white border collie who came out tops in the Canine High Jump ("Maxi-dogs category"), where he cleared a 36 inch jump and subsequently took the gold medal in the Champion Catcher competitions. However in the mini dogs category, Don, a silky terrier cross was a clear winner after clearing a jump of 18 inches!

The cats were not forgotten at this event! With a whopping 50 cm measurement, a Scottish-Fold definitely had the most to boast about when he took home the title of "Most Impressive Feline Chest". Even the small hamsters had their chance in the spotlight with the "100cm Sprint" competition where the winning hamster clocked in a 5.41 seconds record!

However the segment most looked forward to was the "Sporty Look" competition. Pets and their owners displayed their creativity as they came dressed in costumes showing their love for sports! Rocky, a Shetland Sheepdog and his owner who were dressed as boxers concluded the round by beating the other good-lookers to taking home the gold medal!

Despite the two heavy showers that poured over the event, the enthusiasm that filled the place was definitely not dampened. The hustle and bustle continued till 5pm and the event ended on a high with contented pets and proud owners!

East Coast Park - Sun, Sport and Surprises!

Come enjoy some sun and fun at the East Coast with us on 11th March 2012 from 10am to 5pm at the Straits Times CATS event. We will be at booth 17!

Free admission for everyone! The event is located right next to East Coast Lagoon hawker centre so you and your pet can have a blast without having to worry about feeling hungry or thirsty!

Plus there are Free goodie bag and pet food sample for all! Just cut out the coupons* that will be printed on the advertisement in CATS Classified in The Sunday Times on 11 March 2012 to redeem them!

For more information visit http://www.cats.com.sg/petscornerevent/index.html

This event is organized by: Singapore Press Holdings CATS Classifieds.

* Limited to one redemption per person. While stocks last.

Friends Of The Animals: They light up my life!

Hi all, we have launched a new fortnightly blog series on "Friends of Animals" today. It will be a collection of blogposts relating animal lovers' experiences with their pets or their passion for animals. AVA staff, together with animal lovers from the animal welfare groups, will be blogging.

If you would like to contribute a blogpost, or know someone who may be suitable to contribute, please drop us a note here as well. We hope that through this sharing, we can all benefit from each other's experiences and learn a thing or two about keeping pets.

To kick start the series, our colleague, Poh Choo, shared her joy living with her beloved pets, which are all adopted. Enjoy!

My name is Poh Choo and I'm a fresh face in the AVA Responsible Pet Ownership's public education team. As someone who is very passionate about the welfare of animals, I spent five years as an Education Officer in the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and a year in the Night Safari. On the side, I take care of the community cats in my area and foster young animals.

I've always been surrounded by animals and I also have pets of my own. Let me introduce them to you and share how they light up my families' lives.

Chaplin, 6 yo, x-Dachshund: For two whole years, I spent every weekend visiting the SPCA scouting for a suitable dog until my eyes and heart met Chaplin that one very special day. He was a lively little puppy (4.5 months old) with a beautiful jet-black coat, happy eyes and a super wiggly tail. Having read a lot about dogs, I was adamant about giving an unwanted pet a home and Chaplin was classified as a lost/abandoned pet. After some family discussion, Chaplin finally went home with us. Being our first dog, Chaplin really taught us a lot of things. We went to obedience school together to learn to be good citizens. However, Chaplin never passed his course. Not even the second time. It's been a few years now but we're hoping to enrol him for school again. Ever so active, he needs his daily exercise to stay sane. Chaplin is extremely affectionate but prefers to be in the company of those he trusts. He now lives with my parents and he helps them stay active. My parents would go the extra mile to do something for Chaplin - a trip to the supermarket to buy him his favourite fruit, exploring various routes within the neighbourhood, preparing his home-cooked meals with love each and every time, coddling him and watching the latest Channel 8 drama together after a long day. As great as things seem, Chaplin actually has a dark secret - he has a very nasty resource-guarding issue and we've all been bitten by him before but that doesn't change our love for him one bit. We learn to cope and also constantly try and be better pet owners for him. He ain't heavy; he's our family member.

Zupe, 5 yo, Miniature Schnauzer (pictured at the beginning of the post with me): My mom told me about Zupe in June 2010. Her owners wanted to give her up because they had an addition in the family and could no longer care for her. When we visited her, we discovered that she had spent three years of her entire life living in a 1m by 1m playpen that was both her toilet and eating areas. We had initially only wanted to 'rescue' her from a life cooped up in a small playpen and find her a new, good home. However, perhaps due to the lack of socialisation, she was initially quite fearful of strangers. That would make her quite a tough candidate for adoption. At that time too, she appeared a little jaundiced and needed some fattening up. So, we decided to 'rehabilitate' her at our place first. We've taken care of many dogs quite like Zupe and had always agreed not to adopt any of them but it was hard for my parents to resist her as unlike our fostered mongrel pups, Zupe is an adult that's more difficult to re-home. Although still a little shy, Zupe is getting better each day and she enjoys being by my side. Her excellent temperament and history have allowed me to bring her out to meet people and share with them about RPO.

Zeus, 5 yo, Chihuahua: Zeus was given up at the SPCA with his parents, all riddled with severe skin problems and dying. As a young pup of about two months old, Zeus responded very well to his medications and recovered steadily. Sadly, his parents never made it. My husband decided to give him a home and 'bestowed' him with a Greek name, Zeus. Besides the very short but sad life, he is also born with a deformed front hind but that does not limit his activities in any way. In fact, he's faster than some dogs his size! Like my husband, he loves adrenaline pumping activities. Zeus gets impatient once he sees us get ready our bikes. We would go cycling together with him sitting comfortable in backpack. At the park, he runs along with us and we'll have loads of fun together. At home, he goes berserk with his toys, mainly balls. He keeps them in his bed at the end of each night before he sleeps. Zeus is also the most disciplined of the lot. He's more a people dog. And, Zeus howls, yes, he does, whenever he wants to notify you of something - door bell, phone ring, a boiling kettle, etc.

Well, that's it from me. I am deeply passionate about animal welfare and I love my pets. Someday when you're ready and decides to get a pet, I hope you'll consider giving one of the unwanted animals a home.

Post-Event: Singapore Animal Welfare Symposium and Public Forum on Animal Welfare Policies (25 February 2012)

Held at Chong Pang Community Club, the Singapore Animal Welfare Symposium and Public Forum on Animal Welfare Policies drew some 600 participants. The event served as a public forum for the public, animal welfare groups and government agencies to discuss animal welfare issues and evaluate initiatives to safeguard animal interests in Singapore. Animal welfare organisations gave presentations and plenary sessions on a wide range of issues, covering topics such as humane domestic animal management, tackling illegal wildlife trade and addressing zoo animal welfare concerns.

Guest-of-Honour for the event, Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Law and MP for Nee Soon GRC (Chong Pang) participated in a forum and panel discussion, answering questions from the public. Over 15 animal welfare groups (AWGs) interacted with the public, raising awareness of the causes they are advocating for at their respective booths. These included the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), Animal Lovers League (ALL), Cat Wel
fare Society (CWS) and House Rabbit Society of Singapore (HRSS),Sharks Savers, Humane Society Singapore, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (Zoo) and Vegetarian Society.

AVA's Dr Lou, Assistant Director from the Animal Welfare & Control division presented on current efforts to safeguard the welfare of animals in Singapore and also revealed that AVA is looking into proposals and recommendations raised by the animal welfare groups in an ongoing effort to engage all stakeholders.

During the public forum, new measures to effectively resolve existing problems of pet abandonment and strays were discussed, amongst which there were suggestions for the mandatory licensing of pets at the point of sale at pets shops and farms, establishment of a national registry for better tracking of microchipped animals as well as allowing the adoption of community cats and mongrel dogs to be kept in HDB flats.

In his address, Mr K Shanmugam said 'The state of animal welfare in Singapore is improving, everyone is becoming more responsible and the animal welfare groups, government agencies and concerned parties are working together'. Overall, the forum was a success. Speakers, panelists and audience alike found it meaningful and everyone learnt that they can make a positive difference to animals' lives together.

Responsible Pet Ownership Exhibition @ The Libraries

A pet can be fun to have but it is also a living thing that needs to be cared for its entire lifetime!

Drop by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA)'s Responsible Pet Ownership exhibition to find out more about pets and their care, and pick up a free Responsible Pet Ownership publication. Also, stand a chance to win a pair of movie vouchers* when you take part in our quiz!

Exhibition Venues

Exhibition Dates

Ang Mo Kio Public Library

9 March - 25 March 2012

Tampines Regional Library

28 March - 15 April 2012

* One voucher is used for one movie on any day, any time, including eve of and public holidays. Excludes 3D screenings. Terms and Conditions apply.

Join us for an exciting time at the libraries as we share with you the importance of responsible pet ownership through story-telling and a fun presentation!

Story-telling: Caring for Smudge the Dog and Snowy the Cat (Ngee Ann Poly)#
Saturday, 17 March, 2.00 - 3.00 pm, Activity Room, Pasir Ris Public Library

Poor Smudge, the dog and Snowy, the cat have been abandoned and are left to care for themselves. Will anyone save and take care of them? Find out more about the problems that abandoned pets face and how you can care for your pet for life. For children aged 4 - 12 years old.

Presentation: Are Pets Like Us? (AVA)
Saturday, 24 March, 2.00 - 3.00 pm, Activity Room, Ang Mo Kio Public Library#
Saturday, 31 March, 2.00 - 3.00 pm, Children's Playhouse, Tampines Regional Library#

Help children develop greater empathy for animals with this presentation. Let us take them on a journey to discover how animals have certain similar needs as us. For children aged 4 - 12 years old.

#Registration is required. Participants will each receive an attractive AVA goody bag, while stocks last.