SINGAPORE — A woman convicted of failing to take a dog suffering from a fatal virus for veterinary treatment was fined $12,600 on Thursday (5 August).
Leow Suat Hong, 49, had kept 60 dogs of a Bichon Frise-Maltese mix in a boarding facility in Pasir Ris Farmway. Of these, 24 had died by the time authorities visited the premises, with 10 carcasses already disposed of.
In addition to her fine, Leow was disqualified from owning pets for six months, and will be required to rehome her remaining dogs in the meantime.
Leow had initially claimed trial to two charges for failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that two dogs – a male dog suffering from parvovirus, and a female dog with an ear infection – were protected from and rapidly diagnosed of any disease, and failing to get them veterinary treatment.
However, Leow pleaded guilty partway during her trial and was convicted of the charge involving the male dog, but acquitted of the charge involving the female dog.
Leow also pleaded guilty to 16 charges for failing to license her dogs, with another 26 charges of a similar nature taken into consideration for her sentencing. She was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for failing to ensure seven dogs received veterinary treatment, and two charges for failing to license her dogs.
In sentencing Leow, District Judge May Mesenas noted that the prosecution had pointed out in submissions that the case was not about someone abusing an animal – instead, it was about Leow being overwhelmed with having to deal with too many animals under her care.
At the start of Leow's trial, the court heard from a former Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) investigating officer (IO) that the authority received feedback from the National Environment Agency about an animal welfare case in February 2016 at a house along Starlight Road where Leow lived.
The AVA team went down to the location a few times before meeting Leow, who was the owner of the property. Leow asked the team to fix an appointment for another day to inspect or examine her dogs as the house was very dirty.
When AVA next visited in February or March 2016, Leow refused the officers entry. Instead, she brought the 11 dogs to the front gate and handed the dogs to the officers for inspection.
As landed property owners could only keep a maximum of three dogs, the officers advised Leow to rehome the dogs, or hand them over to animal welfare groups. They also advised her to microchip and license her dogs.
According to the AVA IO, Leow was reluctant to rehome the dogs from March to October 2016. She later shifted the dogs to a boarding facility.
A few days before 20 October 2016, Leow called the officer, saying that she needed AVA assistance as her dogs were "dying one by one".
In October 2016, the AVA officers visited The Pet Hotel, where the dogs were, and found 50 of Leow's dogs. Fourteen of these had already died, and Leow claimed that she had disposed of another 10 dead dogs before the officers arrived.
Leow claimed during the trial that she had brought a few ill dogs, including the male dog in her charge, to a veterinarian in Balestier for treatment. However, the veterinarian had told her to put down the dogs, as they was suffering from parvovirus, an incurable disease.
For failing to take reasonable steps to ensure her dog is rapidly diagnosed by a vet and treated, Leow could have been jailed up to a year and/or fined up to $10,000. For failing to license her dog, she could have been fined up to $5,000 on each charge.
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