SINGAPORE — A Singaporean woman has pleaded guilty to cruelly torturing a chihuahua by picking it up by its neck and throwing it down from a height of 1.5 metres.
Sophia Ong Daijuan, 26, also pulled the small black dog’s hind leg violently, causing it to limp, according to the prosecution.
On Wednesday (18 September), Ong admitted to an act of animal cruelty and causing unnecessary suffering to the chihuahua by failing to feed it daily, causing the dog to lose weight.
Another charge of cruelly beating the dog with her hands was also taken into consideration.
According to court documents, on 23 February last year, Ong claimed that her dog’s tail was soiled with faeces. She brought the pooch to the toilet and showered it. After applying shampoo to it, she left her dog unattended in the basin with the tap still running.
She then left to use her phone. When she returned five minutes later, she found the dog submerged in the water with its front right paw stuck in the drainage hole. As the dog was lifeless, Ong administered CPR and also blew air into its mouth, but the animal remained unresponsive.
Ong’s mother then arranged for a pet cremation service provider to collect the dog’s carcass for cremation later that day.
The next day, at about 10am, officers from the then Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore retrieved the carcass before it was cremated and sent it to the laboratory for a post-mortem.
Court documents did not state why AVA officers retrieved the carcass. The examination revealed that the dog’s cause of death was from traumatic force directed at its head and abdomen. It also had a liver laceration and bleeding in the lung.
There was no evidence of lesions pointing to a drowning and the injuries found were “not consistent with chest compressions from the act of administering of CPR”, National Parks (NParks) prosecutor Packer Mohammad told the court.
A friend of Ong visited her on 12 January last year and noticed that the dog appeared to be “very weak”. In December 2017, that same friend witnessed Ong picking the dog up by its neck and flinging it down with “great force” from a height of 1.5metres. According to the friend, Ong pulled the dog’s hind leg with “excessive force”, causing it to limp after that.
Further investigations revealed that she failed to feed the dog daily in January last year. She only fed the dog every two to three days, causing it to lose “substantial weight”.
Court documents did not state the cause of the dog’s death.
NParks prosecutor Packer sought a $5,000 fine for each of the two charges that Ong faced. However, the prosecutor told the court that he did not object to the calling of a mandatory treatment order (MTO) report to assess Ong’s suitability for the treatment.
An MTO is a community-based sentencing option that allows offenders who suffer from psychiatric conditions, to undergo mental health treatment instead of serving jail time. After serving the order, the offender will not have a criminal record.
While the prosecution submitted an Institute of Mental Health report relating to Ong’s condition, her diagnosis was not revealed in court.
The prosecution also sought a disqualification order to ban Ong from owning any other animals for a year.
Representing herself in court, Ong said that she was “okay” with the fine but objected to her current dog being taken away from her, breaking down in tears.
She stated that she had had a panic attack when her dog was previously taken away.
“I’m really not okay with my dog being taken away. The dog has been living with me up till now since he was young...During the time I was down, I admit that I wasn’t able to feed (both dogs) well...now I have been feeding him well,” she said, adding that the dog was fatter than before.
“He is my emotional support so I really can’t have him away.”
District Judge Carol Ling called for a mandatory treatment order suitability report on Ong. She will be back on 23 October for her sentencing.
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