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Chips on dogs

Singapore, Jan. 21 (Reuters): Singapore said today it may implant microchips in pet dogs and cats to make sure they are not abandoned by owners.

The island republic has laws covering a long list of offences and it imposes fines for selling chewing gum and spitting in public. The rising numbers of stray animals on the island is now becoming a concern, the government said.

Around 19,000 dogs and cats are abandoned every year, Mah Bow Tan, minister for national development, told parliament.

“As it is difficult to catch an owner in the act of abandoning its pet, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority is studying the feasibility of requiring pets to be micro-chipped to facilitate identification of pets and their owners,” he said. Anyone caught abondoning a pet without “reasonable cause” may face a S$10,000 ($5,757) fine or 12 months in jail, or both, under Singapore’s current regulations.

Thai symbol

Bangkok (Reuters): Police in Thailand are rounding up elephants which roam the capital’s traffic-clogged streets to try to reduce accidents and improve the welfare of the beasts that have become the country’s national symbol. An estimated 150 of Thailand’s 2,500 domesticated elephants are loose in Bangkok. Some break legs falling into drains or ditches and an average of 20 road accidents a month involve elephants. Many elephants and their handlers have been drawn to the city because environmental protection laws have reduced traditional logging work. A special government mahout team is helping police round-up elephants and send them to the countryside to work, mostly in the tourist industry.

Lost humour

Besancon, France (Reuters): A man who erased his drunk-driving record from a police computer and replaced it with a winking “smiley face” graphic ended up with a suspended license and a fine when police failed to see the funny side. The 19-year-old computer whiz had been arrested for drunk driving and summoned to appear in court in Besancon, in eastern France, the French daily Liberation reported on Tuesday. Finding an unmanned computer as he arrived at the police station for his hearing, the man decided to test the good humour of the court by sneaking into the database. He deleted his file from the computer’s hard drive and inserted “ ;) ” — the text message shorthand for a winking smiley face — in its place. But rather than smiling at the prank, the judge handed the man a three-month suspended prison sentence, a 400 euro ($425) fine and suspended his driving licence for three months.

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