Dog owner's sentence increased after trial

Chng Leng Khim was sentenced yesterday to four weeks' jail and fined $6,000.
Chng Leng Khim was sentenced yesterday to four weeks' jail and fined $6,000.

Court had allowed her to retract original guilty plea and claim trial over abuse of 3 dogs

A dog owner who was sentenced to 10 days in jail two years ago for mistreating her pets had her sentence more than doubled yesterday 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 she might be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health if she claimed trial. Chng was sentenced to 10 days' jail and 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, in January, District Judge Kessler Soh found the 45-year-old guilty of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to her dogs - a bull mastiff cross, poodle and chow chow - and three counts of owning them without licences.

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

She has now been sentenced to four weeks' jail and fined $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.

That same day, staff from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found the poodle near the home. 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, 2013, 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 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."

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2018, with the headline 'Dog owner's sentence increased after trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe