SINGAPORE — A woman who abused her pet chihuahua was sentenced on Thursday (14 November) to a 12-month long Mandatory Treatment Order after her psychiatric condition was found to be causally linked to her offences.
Sophia Ong Daijuan, 26, was also banned from owning new dogs for a period of a year. However Ong, who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder, will get to keep her current dog, as a psychiatrist had stated that her mental condition might worsen if it was taken from her.
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.
Ong had forcefully thrown the chihuahua onto the ground from a height of 1.5 metres and pulled its leg until it limped. The lapdog has since died, allegedly after it was left unattended in a basin full of water as it was being bathed.
A post-mortem examination conducted on the carcass revealed that the canine died from traumatic injuries to its head and abdomen, with a liver laceration and bleeding within the lung.
There were no injuries that indicated the dog had drowned, and the injuries found were also not consistent with Ong’s claim of applying CPR on the pooch after finding it lifeless in the water.
When she pleaded guilty on 18 September, Ong had tearfully begged the court not to take her current dog away, claiming that she had had a panic attack when it was previously taken from her. Ong told the court that the animal was her emotional support.
Apart from a charge of cruelly torturing the chihuahua, Ong also pleaded guilty to failing to feed it daily, causing it to suffer unnecessarily and lose weight. A charge of beating the hound with her bare hands was taken into consideration for sentencing.
Chihuahua’s paw caught in drainage hole
According to court documents, Ong claimed that she had showered the dog in the toilet on 23 February last year after finding its tail soiled with faeces. After applying shampoo to the dog, she left it unattended in a 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.
Ong administered CPR to the lifeless dog, but the animal remained unresponsive. Her mother then arranged for a pet cremation service provider to collect its carcass for cremation later that day.
The following 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. The injuries which were likely to have caused its death were then determined.
A friend of Ong who visited her on 12 January last year 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”.
NParks prosecutor Packer Mohammad earlier sought a $5,000 fine for each of the two charges that Ong faced. He did not object to the court calling for an MTO report to assess Ong’s suitability for the treatment.
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