The operator of a controversial pet boarding facility has been arrested and is “assisting with investigations on alleged animal welfare-related offences”, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling in a Facebook post on Monday (7 January).
The operator of Platinium Dogs Club, a 30-year-old woman, was arrested on Sunday, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in response to media queries.
Sun said that the AVA is continuing investigations into Platinium, including making further inspections.
“Investigations will be comprehensively carried out, and we will take enforcement action on any animal welfare infringements,” the MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC added.
“Several” pet owners have been reunited with their dogs that were being previously boarded with Platinium, said Sun, who did not mention how many.
The AVA had taken 18 dogs and one rabbit into temporary custody after raiding the facility’s premises, a private semi-detached house at 7 Galistan Avenue, on 29 and 31 December.
“Let’s stay calm and let the authorities investigate the case thoroughly and fairly,” added Sun, echoing the views of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam who posted about the saga surrounding the facility on Facebook two days ago.
“Singaporeans can rest assured: there will be thorough investigations and there will be due process. Anyone who has engaged in illegal acts will face the consequences,” Shanmugam had said in his post.
A Google search showed that a number listed on Platinium’s website – now defunct – was listed on the websites of two other businesses: flower delivery service LaFrenchRoses and Raffles Tuition Centre.
Checks by Yahoo News Singapore on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority’s Bizfile+ system showed that LaFrenchRoses was registered by a sole-proprietor, a Singaporean of the same name, on 4 January last year.
Liew’s address was listed as 7 Galistan Avenue on the document, while the location of LaFrenchRoses was listed under another address.
Platinium, which was billed on its website as “fully air-conditioned daily”, “cage-free” with staff having “more than 20 years of experience in handling dogs”, was not registered.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority prohibits the provision of commercial 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.
“Commercial pet boarding facilities should be located in suitable farm areas or on commercial premises as they may cause dis-amenities to the surrounding residents. They should not be located on private residential premises where they are approved primarily for residential purposes,” said a URA spokesperson on 31 December last year.
When asked if Liew was the woman arrested, the AVA declined to comment.
Prince the shetland sheepdog still missing
Several allegations of negligence made by dog owners who left their pets at Platinium earlier last month had prompted an investigation by the AVA on the facility. One dog owner told Yahoo News Singapore that QQ, her 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, died after a stay at Platinium.
Separately, a worker at Mobile Pet Cremation Services, a pet cremation company, told Yahoo News Singapore on 31 December last year that he had handled requests from a woman associated with Platinium in December.
The worker said three dogs were taken from the premises on separate occasions for cremation, with one mass cremated.
On 2 January, the police turned up at the Platinium premises after a group of people gathered outside the facility at Galistan Avenue, demanding information on Prince, a seven-year-old Shetland sheepdog which went missing under Platinium’s care. The dog remains missing as of Monday night.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that a 40-year-old man from the group had alleged that he was hit by the vehicle that was reversing out of the compound of the unit. The man was subsequently conveyed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in a conscious state,” said the police later on the same day.
A 33-year-old driver of the vehicle and the group of people comprising seven women and four men, including the 40-year-old man, are assisting with police investigations.
In a joint statement issued on 5 January, the AVA and police advised the public not to take matters into their own hands or engage in any actions that may violate the law or cause harm to themselves and others.
“The public should also refrain from speculation, and let the investigations take their course,” the authorities added.
The saga has also sparked an online petition calling for stiffer penalties against animal abusers on Change.org, which has gathered close to 58,000 signatures since it started on 3 January.
Under the Animal & Birds Act, a person who is convicted of failing to care for animals in the course of conducting an animal-related business may be fined up to $40,000, jailed up to two years, or both.