Dog's finder upset that stray was put down

A DOG lover has taken the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to task on Facebook, upset that it put down a stray golden retriever she had found.

But the AVA last night explained that the dog was put down as it was old, in poor condition and not eating well.

PR executive Victoria Lim, 26, had found the retriever on Upper Changi Road on Feb 27 and passed it into the AVA's care the same day.

The officer who received the dog assured her that it would not be put down, said Ms Lim.

A week later, on March 8, the AVA put the 11-year-old dog down after attempts to contact its owner proved unsuccessful despite phone calls and a newspaper advertisement.

In the meantime, Ms Lim had been frequently calling the AVA's hotline, offering help to re-home the dog and reminding the agency not to euthanise it.

But her messages were not conveyed to the relevant manager, nor was the dog's condition relayed to Ms Lim.

She was notified of the dog's demise only when she called the AVA again on March 18. The authority yesterday apologised for the "service lapse" in its communication.

Ms Lim took to Facebook on Tuesday to express her anger. Her post has since gone viral and has been shared more than 3,700 times as of last night.

"It's not as if we made it a puzzle for them to figure out that we wanted to help," said Ms Lim, who could not immediately adopt the dog as her family already has two of their own.

Ms Lim also claimed that the dog appeared in good health despite a skin condition.

In 2011 and 2012, the AVA euthanised about 2,400 stray dogs and re-homed about 220 others.

Executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Corinne Fong believes that the AVA could build a robust system where "every message is taken up and acted upon".

She also called on the authority to investigate the dog's owners, whom Ms Lim suspects had abandoned the retriever.

Last month, the SPCA reported that abandonment cases at its centre had risen 8 per cent between 2011 and last year.

davidee@sph.com.sg