Man fined $4,500 for forging pet vaccination papers

In addition to the fine for forgery, Koh Wen Zhu, 30, was fined $1,500 for running a pet shop from his home without a licence.
In addition to the fine for forgery, Koh Wen Zhu, 30, was fined $1,500 for running a pet shop from his home without a licence.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A man who bought puppies and sold them online for a profit forged two pet vaccination certificates to try and push the deals through, a court heard.

The puppies were subsequently diagnosed with the parvovirus infection. Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease, characterised by severe gastroenteritis with diarrhoea and vomiting and, sometimes, myocarditis.

Yesterday, kindergarten teacher Koh Wen Zhu, 30, was fined $4,500 for forgery and $1,500 for running a pet shop from his Punggol Drive flat without a licence.

Another charge of forgery was considered during his sentencing.

Koh bought puppies and sold them online for a profit between August 2012 and March 2013. To publicise their sale, he posted advertisements on websites such as Gumtree, Locanto and Adpost.

Koh, who dealt mainly in shih tzu, toy poodle and Japanese spitz breeds from his home, used various pseudonyms and mobile numbers to sell the puppies.

He sold 10 puppies online over a seven-month period.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim said Koh made vaccination certificates and signed on them to suggest that the certificates were signed by veterinarians.

Ms Lim said first-time dog owner Wong Baoling, 30, paid $700 for her two-month-old toy poodle from a man called "Wee Kia" on March 20, 2013.

"Wee Kia" told her that the puppy had been vaccinated and showed her a certificate purportedly signed by a veterinarian.

The certificate stated that the toy poodle was vaccinated on March 5, 2013, and the list of vaccines included the vaccine against parvovirus.

But, after taking the puppy home, Ms Wong noticed that her pet was lethargic and was refusing food. She took it to a veterinarian three days later.

It was diagnosed with parvovirus and the total treatment cost her almost $3,000.

She tried repeatedly to contact "Wee Kia", who is in fact Koh, to no avail.

In the other case, the buyer paid $640 to Koh for a Japanese spitz which also tested positive for parvovirus within seven days.

The owner spent about $2,500 treating the puppy.

Koh, who paid back the two owners $700 and $640, could have been jailed for up to four years and/or fined for forgery. The maximum penalty for running a pet shop without a valid licence is a $5,000 fine.

Elena Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'Man fined $4,500 for forging pet vaccination papers'. Print Edition | Subscribe