An unannounced inspection by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) at a Pasir Ris pet farm in March last year turned out a nasty surprise – eight dogs found in poor physical condition.
The affected dogs, which included an unsterilised bulldog, a schnauzer, a husky and a pomeranian, had suffered from conditions like right eye corneal swelling, discolouration and muscle wastage.
The pet farm’s owner, Edwin Tan Guowei, 29, admitted on Wednesday (May 24) to six counts of failure to provide proper care of the dogs under their watch.
The court heard that Tan was the licensee of The Animal House at Pasir Ris since 2015, and had been in the pet business since he was 18. At the time of the offences, the farm had close to 200 dogs.
The prosecution, led by deputy public prosecutor Selene Yap, argued for a fine of at least S$30,000 per charge, as well as a disqualification order to prevent Tan from engaging in any animal-related business for 12 months.
DPP Yap said the sentence should have a deterrent effect “to prevent any like-minded pet business owners from engaging in similar activities”.
The dogs found in the surprise inspection were in bad shape and “despite treatment, they remain in terrible condition”, hence a fine alone is not sufficiently deterrent a message, she argued. The “added penalty” of a disqualification order will provide stronger deterrence.
The prosecution also asked for the disqualification order to run two months after sentencing date to allow Tan to rehome the dogs. The dogs must also not be disposed to AVA.
In his mitigation plea, defence counsel Daniel Ho said the issue here was “not a case of maltreatment” and that the dogs, which were found to be in bad shape, were already isolated before the surprise inspection on March 9 last year.
Mr Ho also said his client feels that the disqualification order “is very harsh”.
DPP Yap countered an earlier point made by Mr Ho, saying that “while it is not that (Tan) ill-treated his dogs, there is a positive duty for him to ensure they are well-treated”.
Tan will next appear in court on June 7 for sentencing. For failing to provide proper care of animals while conducting an animal-related business, Tan could be fined up to S$40,000, or jailed for two years, or both for first convictions.