The sound of puppies barking alerted police coast guard officers as they checked a pleasure craft berthed at Marina Country Club.
This led to the discovery of 23 puppies smuggled into Singapore and the arrest of a 21-year-old Malaysian and Singaporean master of the vessel.
Yesterday, unemployed Yeun Jian Iun was jailed for eight months for illegally importing nine poodles, five shih tzus, four pomeranians, three French bulldogs and two golden retrievers from Malaysia, at the sea off Changi General Purposes Anchorage.
Ten of the youngest dogs died after being infected with parvovirus and one had to be euthanised. Yeun was given a concurrent sentence of four months' jail for animal cruelty.
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said that on Oct 28, officers were checking the pleasure craft at Marina Country Club when they heard dogs barking. Cages of puppies under large pieces of cloth were found. Yeun and the owner of the vessel, Cheow Yon Siong, 51, claimed they had taken the puppies to Malaysia for vaccination but did not have any documents to prove this.
Investigations later found that Yeun was in Malaysia on Oct 23 when he received a call from one "Mat", who proposed that Yeun smuggle puppies into Singapore for a fee. "Mat" told him that he would be paid $1,000 upon successful delivery.
When "Mat" called him on Oct 27, Yeun, who was then in Singapore, told him that he would be able to collect the puppies from Sebana Cove, Malaysia, only the next day.
Yeun and Cheow, together with two others, left Singapore in the pleasure craft and arrived at Sebana Cove an hour later.
At the carpark there, the driver of a Honda car showed him six cages with puppies. These were carried onto the pleasure craft and covered with large bath towels before it sailed back to Singapore.
No food or water was provided to the puppies, which were kept in cramped conditions. They were later found to be between four and eight weeks old and unlikely to have been vaccinated.
Mr Yap said several of the puppies were found to be weak, lethargic and unwilling to eat. They also developed signs of vomiting and diarrhoea.
He said in his sentencing submissions that the World Health Organisation estimated the number of human deaths caused by rabies - a fatal viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected animal - each year to be 60,000.
Yeun could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months on each charge.
Cheow was charged with abetting Yeun in the offences. His case will be mentioned on Jan 18.