SINGAPORE - A Singaporean who was involved in an attempt to smuggle 23 puppies from Malaysia to Singapore in 2016 pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal and Birds Act on Thursday (April 25).
Cheow Yon Siong, 53, had been charged with the illegal import of 23 puppies into Singapore from Malaysia, and for failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the puppies were not kept in confinement and subjected to unreasonable or unnecessary pain or suffering.
He also pleaded guilty to consuming and possessing methamphetamine.
On Oct 28, 2016, during a routine inspection by the Police Coast Guard, Cheow and a Malaysian man, Yeun Jian Iun, were found trying to smuggle 23 puppies in cages under large pieces of cloth on Cheow's vessel.
There were nine poodles, five shih tzus, four pomeranians, three French bulldogs and two golden retrievers.
Ten of the youngest dogs later died after being infected with parvovirus and another had to be euthanised.
In his sentencing submissions, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecuting officer Yap Teck Chuan said that the accused had agreed to smuggle the puppies for $1,000 from a person he hardly knew.
He added that the way in which the recently weaned puppies were transported would have caused significant stress to the animals, predisposing them to more severe clinical disease.
He said that the puppies who had been infected with parvovirus likely got infected in Malaysia, and brought the disease with them into Singapore, and could have spread the disease to the other smuggled puppies in the same crowded crate.
Parvovirus usually affects puppies that are partially or completely unvaccinated, and are hence at the highest risk of contracting the disease, especially if stressed due to weaning, overcrowding, or malnutrition, he said.
Mr Yap said that one of the important purposes of the Animals and Birds Act is to prevent the spread of diseases, especially rabies, into Singapore.
Although Singapore has been free from rabies since 1953, the consequences of a rabies outbreak would be dire, he said.
The puppies in this case were from Malaysia, which had an outbreak of rabies in 2015, and has not been declared free from rabies since.
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.
Cheow will return to court for sentencing next month.
He could be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to a year, or both.
In December 2016, Yeun had been sentenced to eight months' jail for illegally importing the puppies, as well as a concurrent sentence of four months' jail for animal cruelty.