Dog owner's jail term increased at second mistreatment hearing

Chng Leng Khim has now been sentenced to four weeks' jail and a fine of $6,000.
Chng Leng Khim has now been sentenced to four weeks' jail and a fine of $6,000.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A dog owner who was given 10 days in jail two years ago for mistreating her pets had her sentence more than doubled on Wednesday (April 4) after a court allowed her to retract her original guilty plea.

Chng Leng Khim, 45, claimed that the lawyer at her original hearing in February 2016 had pressured her into pleading guilty to animal mistreatment charges, saying that she may be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health if she claimed trial. As well as being jailed for 10 days she was also fined $3,100.

In October that year Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon accepted the single mother's contention and a new hearing took place.

But after a 12-day trial, District Judge Kessler Soh found the 45-year-old guilty in January of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to her dogs - a bull mastiff cross, poodle and chow chow - and three of owning them without licences.

He also convicted her of failing to comply to a demand by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to give a statement.

She has now been sentenced to four weeks' jail and a fine of $6,000.

Following the trial, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan said in his submissions that Chng and her three children moved out of their Paya Lebar home on June 11, 2013, after failing to pay their rent.

The bull mastiff abandoned by Chng Leng Khim after she moved out of her Paya Lebar Crescent home on June 11, 2013. PHOTO: AVA

That same day, staff from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found the poodle near the unit.It was emaciated and covered with ticks.

Two days later Chng's landlady found the other two dogs in the unit and alerted the AVA.

The animals were thin and infested with ticks.

On July 18 that year, an AVA officer met Chng at Ang Mo Kio Police Division and passed her a letter, asking her to come to his office and make a statement.

She failed to turn up and was finally arrested on June 30, 2015.

Chng, who was unrepresented, testified during the trial that she did not take the dogs to a vet as they did not have any health issues. She also claimed she had always attended to the animals and fed them well.

DPP Tan urged Judge Soh to sentence Chng to four weeks' jail and a fine of $6,000. He said: "The dogs were in very poor condition when they were found. They were...sickly and suffering.

"After Chng moved out, the chow chow and bull mastiff were in an environment where there was urine and faeces all over the floor, and which was unsuitable for them to be in."

This chow chow is one of the three dogs abandoned by Chng Leng Khim. PHOTO: AVA

The chow chow and poodle were rehomed but the bull mastiff had to be euthanised.

Chng told the court on Wednesday that she intends to appeal against her conviction and sentence. She was offered bail of $10,000.