Singapore dog owner gets enhanced punishment for animal cruelty

Animal cruelty in Singapore (Representational picture)
Animal cruelty in Singapore (Representational picture) Pixabay

Two years ago a dog owner was convicted for mistreating her pets and sentenced to 10 days of imprisonment. But, on Wednesday, April 4, her sentence has been increased to four weeks.

The accused Chng Leng Khim, who had a bull mastiff cross, poodle and chow chow, said that her lawyer during the court hearing in February 2016 asked her to plead guilty to animal cruelty charges and said that she might be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health. But the court sentenced her to 10 days of imprisonment, including a fine of $3,100.

Later in 2016 October, Sundaresh Menon the Chief Justice accepted the woman's argument and set a new date for hearing. Earlier, the District Judge Kessler Soh had found Khim guilty of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to her pets, including three counts of owning them without licence.

Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, the national organization entrusted with the mission to ensure the health and safeguard the welfare of animals, said that the accused 45-year-old dog owner has now been sentenced to four weeks of imprisonment, including a fine of S$6,000, as she failed to comply with an order to assist in investigation and failed to follow the requirements.

Tan Zhongshan, Deputy Public Prosecutor said that the mother of three and her children moved out from their Paya Lebar home on June 11, 2013, as they failed to pay their rent. He told the court that it was on the same day officials from Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found the poodle, thin and covered with ticks near the house.

Reports stated that after two days, when the landlady of Khim found the bull mastiff cross and chow chow, in a poor condition, she immediately informed AVA. When the officials rescued both the dogs, they found that both of them were infested with ticks and were too thin.

Soon, an official from AVA met Khim and gave her a letter, asking her to visit his office and make a statement on the issue. She failed to turn up and was arrested on June 30, 2015.

During the court hearing, the accused said that she never took the dogs to a vet, as her pets had no health issues. Khim mentioned that she took care of those dogs and fed them well. The defence lawyer argued that the dogs were in poor health and found in the midst of urine and faeces on the floor, which was highly unsuitable for them to live. Even though poodle and chow chow have found a new home, the bull mastiff had to be euthanised later.

Following the hearing, DPP Zhongshan sought four weeks of jail sentence with a fine of $6,000. But on Wednesday, during the hearing Khim said that she would like to challenge her punishment. As of now, she is out on bail of $10,000.

As per the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), any person found guilty of animal abuse in Singapore will be charged under Animals and Birds Act. First-time offenders of animal cruelty could be fined up to $15,000, jailed up to 18 months or both.

Offenders who are in animal-related businesses will face heftier penalties for animal cruelty up to $40,000 in fines or jail, not exceeding two years or both. Being cruel to an animal is considered a crime in Singapore and the convict may even face a jail term of up to one year or fine up to $10,000 or both.