Two days before her 27th birthday, Joanne Png was in Bangkok, Thailand, for a family vacation when she received bad news: QQ, her 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, was unwell and likely on the verge of death.
A staff member from pet boarding facility Platinium Dogs Club, where Png had entrusted QQ and her other 11-year-old pet dog Louis to, had sent her a seven-second video clip before noon on Wednesday (26 December). In it, QQ could be seen lying listlessly on the floor, fur soiled with dirt, a far cry from when Png last saw QQ and left her at the facility six days ago.
“I was shocked and devastated to see QQ in that state. (The staff member) told me that my dog looked like it was dying and had pooped on herself,” Png, who is self-employed, told Yahoo News Singapore. “(QQ and Louis) were active and lively before we sent them to the boarding place.”
Png, who was about to do some last-minute shopping for souvenirs, immediately cancelled her plans. As she was due back in Singapore the next day, she contacted her brother and a close friend back in Singapore for help – her brother was to retrieve Louis from the boarding facility and her friend, to meet up with the staff member at a vet clinic.
Less than seven hours later, QQ was pronounced dead.
Allegations of negligence
Png joins at least three others who have made detailed allegations this month against Platinium for negligence, prompting other pet owners to come forward with their own negative experiences.
Dental nurse Elaine Yong left Pika, a 13-year-old male Shih Tzu, under the care of the boarding facility from 8 to 12 December.
The 37-year-old detailed her experience in a Facebook post on 20 December, alongside photos of Pika: “He looked very unhappy, very uncomfortable, very dirty…I found that there were abrasions on the front of his two legs. His testicles also showed inflammatory symptoms. His penis’ skin showed bleeding.”
A doctor’s memo for Pika dated 13 December – seen by Yahoo News Singapore – indicated that the dog had developed “multiple focal infected skin patches with visible pus”.
Administrative manager Priscilla Loo, 45, had on Tuesday also shared a similar post on social media, warning dog owners “to be wary” of Platinium, citing a friend’s experience. Her friend only wanted to be identified as Choo.
As of press time, Loo’s Facebook post garnered over 600 reactions and 1,400 shares.
She told Yahoo News Singapore that Choo, 47, an owner of a six-month-old Chow Chow called Whisky, had initially engaged the company’s services for 12 days from 9 to 20 December. The stay was cut short by two days when Platinium messaged to request for his owner to send him to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or a vet because he “could not walk”.
In photos attached to the post, Whisky’s fur could be seen matted with dirt and his body covered in sores. In a report made by Choo to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) and seen by Yahoo News Singapore, a vet concluded that Whisky had “a punctured wound on his mouth”, a high fever and sores that “could not have developed overnight” but were the results of “prolonged exposure” to urine and faecal matter.
Choo also made a police report last Sunday. When asked, the police confirmed that a report has been lodged.
Facebook user Gwyneth Lee, who boarded her Japanese Spitz Glacier from 18 December to 25 December, shared a similar account on Thursday: “I was in complete shock initially as Glacier was almost unrecognisable. Her white and fluffy fur had become extremely yellow and as we stepped closer, we realised that she reeked of dampness and dirt.”
In response to media queries, the AVA said on Thursday that it has received feedback on the matter and is looking into it.
Calls to boarding facility unanswered
Multiple calls made by Yahoo News Singapore to the handphone number listed on Platinium’s website went unanswered. A Google search showed that the number was listed on the websites of two other businesses: flower delivery service LaFrenchRoses and Raffles Tuition Centre.
While there are no addresses stated on the website, dog owners whom Yahoo News Singapore spoke to, including Png, said that their pets were brought to a private semi-detached house at 7 Galistan Avenue.
The report submitted to the AVA by Choo also noted that the house’s “fence and gate (were) all boarded up” and there were more than 10 dogs in the living room.
According to Channel 8 News, the owner of the house said that he is renting it out at $4,000 per month for residential purposes. However, neighbours had complained about the dogs’ incessant barking during the December school holidays, so he told his agent he wanted an early termination of the tenant’s contract.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority prohibits the provision of pet boarding services in private residential properties. Yahoo News Singapore understands that only farms that board and breed dogs can apply for a licence from the AVA.
Meanwhile, Png, who is awaiting the results of QQ’s death from the vet, has also filed a report with the AVA and plans to file a police report. She said that about six pet owners have come forward with their own experiences with Platinium after reading about her plight.
Louis, Png’s other pet dog who was retrieved from Platinium on the same day of QQ’s death, remains in relatively good health despite returning “dehydrated and starved”. His blood test results during a visit to the vet came back normal and he was prescribed antibiotics for a mild case of gastrocolitis.
“If you’re going on holidays during peak periods, do a thorough search in advance on the pet boarding facility’s background and reviews,” said Png.
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