An attempt to smuggle 12 puppies into Singapore was foiled by an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer on Tuesday.
A Singapore-registered car driven by a 25-year-old Singaporean man was stopped for boot checks when it arrived at the Tuas Checkpoint at about 3.45am.
During the inspection, an ICA officer noticed some things were amiss in the boot and conducted further checks, said a joint statement by the ICA and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) yesterday.
On removing the spare tyre and the cover of the spare tyre compartment, the ICA officer found the puppies sedated and lying cramped inside the compartment. Some were weak and three eventually died.
The driver was referred to AVA for investigation as he did not have a valid health certificate and import permits. The surviving puppies are being cared for and quarantined at AVA's facilities.
The authorities said the health status of animals smuggled into Singapore are unknown and they may introduce exotic diseases, such as rabies, into the country.
AVA strictly regulates the import of animals to prevent the spread of such diseases into Singapore and to safeguard the health and welfare of animals.
Importing any animal without an AVA permit is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of $10,000, a jail term of up to one year, or both.
"Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's security," the statement said.
"The ICA will continue to conduct security checks on passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contraband," it added.
The authorities also reminded travellers against bringing live animals, birds and insects into Singapore without a proper permit.