NEWS AND COMMENT: This might be the first case of its kind. It may be the first time that a person has abandon their cats because of a fear that the cats might transmit Covid-19 to them or their family and subsequently charged and prosecuted under a Singapore statute, namely the Animals and Bird Act. It is an offence to intentionally abandon an animal under this act.
The woman, Zariyah, 45, was fined S$4,000 on January 6 (2,234.80 pounds sterling). She actually abandon them at the letterbox area of the block of flats (Block 31), Marsiling Drive, Singapore. She was looking after the cats at home and then decided they were an infection risk and abandon them on March 28, 2019 at about 9 pm in the evening when a passerby saw the woman releasing the cats from a cage or carrier.
Two of cats that were adopted immediately by passers-by and the other two were taken to a shelter managed by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). A complaint was lodged at the National Parks Board at which point the woman admitted abandoning the animals.
News media reports that she appeared to be let off quite leniently because she could have been fined up to S$10,000 and be jailed for up to a year and banned from keeping pets for up to a year.
The current state of play with respect to pets is that there is no firm evidence at the moment that cats transmit Covid-19 to people. However, I wrote a recent article, which now worries me, stating that some scientists believe that animals might become a reservoir for the virus and the virus might mutate in this reservoir. The mutated virus may be then be transmitted to people at a later date. Therefore there is an argument that animals should be inoculated as well. This presents a massive problem because inoculating people is a huge logistical undertaking in itself.
I hope that my article on this topic did not encourage this woman to do what she did. This concerns me, I confess. However, I am delighted that the cats are safe and that two have been rehomed while the other two are in a secure sanctuary. At least no harm was done but her behaviour was irresponsible. She was foolish to do what she did. She should have telephoned her veterinarian and asked him or her for information.