Man fined $4,000 for leaving dog to starve at abandoned fish farm

Photo of the abandoned bulldog taken on 23 July 2019 with a body score of one out of nine. (Photo:NParks)

SINGAPORE — A man who left a caged English bulldog to starve to the brink of death in an abandoned fish farm was fined $4,000 on Wednesday (3 June).

By the time the malnourished male dog was found by a National Parks (NParks) officer who was scouting the premises, he had a body condition score of one out of nine, or the worst health condition, according to the NParks prosecutor for the case.

The dog would have died had the NParks officer not saved him.

The person responsible for him, Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident Chan Kean Yap, had abandoned the dog to a cage in a fish farm where he had worked.

Chan, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the dog was provided with adequate and suitable food and water over a period of time, and taking into account its dietary needs. One count of keeping the dog without a license was taken into consideration for sentencing.

In mitigation, Chan said that since he left the fish farm, he has been unable to find a job.

“I have four young kids at home to raise, and during this period of time, my wife’s job is affected, so it’s quite a hard time for me. I am sorry for my wrongdoing,” said Chan, who pleaded for a lenient sentence.

Apart from a fine, Chan was also disqualified from owning any pet for a year.

NParks officer heard a whine

An NParks officer was inspecting the premises of the now-defunct Dreamfish fish farm at Neo Tiew Crescent on 17 July last year at about 2pm when he heard a whining emanating from a room within the building. He traced the sound to the malnourished white and brown coloured male English bulldog, which was contained within a cage in a room. The floor of the room was littered with the dog’s faeces and urine.

A photo of the abandoned room at Dreamfish fish farm where the abandoned bulldog was found. (Photo: NParks)

The officer then contacted Chan and confirmed he was the owner of the dog. He told Chan the dog’s condition was bad and required immediate attention, before reporting the matter to the Animal Welfare Investigations Section of the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) under NParks for further investigations.

An investigating officer from the AVS visited the premises after contacting Chan some days later. Chan then surrendered the dog to the officer. A vet who examined the dog concluded the condition of the dog to be dire, with no discernible body fat and obvious loss of muscle mass, resulting from severely inadequate feeding or underlying chronic illness.

Investigations found that Chan adopted the dog in 2017 and kept it unlicensed in the fish farm. Chan had stopped working at the fish farm since May last year after the farm ceased operating when its lease expired.

“The medical examination conducted on the dog concluded that the scoring of one out of nine was the lowest scoring attained having the worst health condition other than death. If not for the discovery by the inspecting officer, the dog might have died as a result if it was left untreated at the premises,” said the prosecutor.

The dog has since been re-homed and has recovered to a satisfactory condition.

A photo of the recovered bulldog taken on 18 September 2019.(Photo: NParks)

Seeking a fine of at least $4,000 and a disqualification of a year, the prosecutor referred to the dog’s condition and cited a need for a stiff penalty to deter like-minded would-be offenders.

For failing to provide the dog adequate food and water, an offence under the Animals and Birds Act, Chan could have been jailed up to a year and/or fined up to $10,000.

For keeping a dog without a license, a breach of the Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing & Control) Rules, he could have been fined up to $5,000.

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