Woman fined for abandoning neglected poodle beside rubbish bin

Miko when she was found on 15 October last year (PHOTO: Facebook/Elin Lim).
Miko when she was found on 15 October last year (PHOTO: Facebook/Elin Lim).

SINGAPORE — Placing her dog in a pink carrier bag one day, a woman brought her then 16-year-old male poodle cross to the ground floor of her block and abandoned it beside a rubbish bin.

When the dog was rescued, it had hair so matted that it was unable to open its eyes, overgrown nails on all four limbs, and was missing all its teeth.

Tan Siew Hoon, 69, was fined $5,000 on Wednesday (28 July) after she pleaded guilty to one count each of failing to license the dog and abandoning him on 15 October last year at Block 709 Hougang Avenue 2. Another count of failing to ensure it received adequate treatment and was protected from disease was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Tan was also disqualified from owning pets for a year.

Appearing in court in person, Tan, a Singaporean, said that she had owned the dog, named Miko, since it was a newborn, when her daughter brought it home from a friend. Miko has since been placed under foster care.

Tan claimed that she had neglected the dog as she had been in distress ever since her husband passed away around half a year prior.

Facts of the case

On 15 October last year, Tan packed Miko into a pink carrier bag and left him on the ground floor of her block at around 9.06am. The Animal Veterinary Service cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks) received information about Miko, and the dog was rescued by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) that same morning.

Investigations revealed Tan to be the owner. She had failed to report the loss of Miko and did not make any attempt to look for it, making it clear that she had abandoned the pooch permanently, said NParks prosecutor Packer Mohammad on Wednesday.

Miko was found to have multiple health issues such as cloudy and shrunken eyes that did not look functional, thickened, arthritic knees and a stiff gait. It was also discovered without food or water, and was mildly dehydrated.

Miko also had crusty skin, fur loss and matted fur with a secondary skin infection, and was missing all of its teeth. Its body condition score leaned towards the emaciated side.

Most of the conditions could have been treatable and showed that Miko had been neglected for some time before it was abandoned, said Packer.

Submitting for a fine of $5,300 for Tan, Packer said that Miko had not deserved the lack of care shown by its owner. An owner has a duty of care to his pet that should not falter even as the pet ages, he said.

“(Pets have a) lasting bond with owners and family members and (are) relying on them emotionally as well.” He added that there was “no expiry date” between the companionship of pet and owner.

Abandoned pets are unlikely to survive on their own and are likely to get withdrawal after being removed from familiar surroundings, the NParks prosecutor added.

Mitigating for herself, Tan said that she had “doted” on Miko and spent “a lot of effort” on it.

“With regards to what the prosecution said, I fed Miko on the morning of that day so he was not starved or not fed and it was just a moment of folly that I did not take action of getting him back and I doted on him a lot. I spent two days each week showering him,” she said through a Mandarin interpreter.

After District Judge Lorraine Ho recited the condition Miko had been discovered in, Tan said that she was busy with her late husband’s matters after he fell in a toilet and passed away.

“But I did feed Miko everyday after work. If he was hungry, he would make noise,” she said. She later clarified that she usually fed Miko before and after work, and had fed Miko on the morning that she abandoned it.

For keeping a dog without a license, Tan could have been fined up to $5,000. For abandoning the animal, she could have bene jailed up to a year, and/or fined up to $10,000.

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