Woman jailed for smuggling and ill-treating 13 puppies

SINGAPORE - A woman who imported 13 puppies into Singapore by hiding them in cloth bags in her car was jailed for four months on Wednesday.

Sharon Tan Mei Hua, 33, a former dog breeder, pleaded guilty to smuggling the puppies, including five poodles, three japanese spitzes and two pomeranians, from Malaysia at Woodlands checkpoint on Sept 9 this year.

She also admitted to transporting the animals by confining them in such a manner or position as to subject them to unnecessary pain or suffering.

A district court heard that Immigration officers stopped Tan's white Nissan car for a spot check and found 13 sedated puppies in three different locations in the car.

The puppies were hidden in cloth bags and placed under the driver's seat, the front passenger's seat and in the glove compartment.

Investigation showed that Tan was at a shopping centre in Johor Baru when she saw a man selling puppies kept in cages in his Malaysian-registered van. She approached the man and indicated her interest to buy some puppies from him.

He quoted her estimated figures for each of the different breeds. As Tan did not have enough money, she decided to return to Singapore first before heading to Johor Baru again to buy the puppies. She paid RM18,500 (S$7,150) for 13 puppies.

When she asked him how to transport the puppies to Singapore without being detected, the man gave her three black-coloured cloth bags, and told her to place them inside before zipping them up.

He also offered to sedate the puppies. After feeding them with doses of a yellow tablet, the puppies became drowsy and were seated.

Tan, who has been running a pet grooming business in China, admitted that she intended to smuggle the 13 puppies into Singapore and sell them to make some money.

Pressing for a deterrent jail sentence, Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan Yan Ling told District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim that illegal importation carries the risk of introducing deadly diseases such as rabies into Singapore. Such offences, she said, were extremely hard to detect, and the case involved the ill-treatment of not merely one but 13 puppies.

Pleading for leniency, Tan said she has a two-year-old child in China whom she had not visited in the last couple of months. She said she had learnt her lesson and will not re-offend.

The maximum penalty for each of the two offences is a $10,000 fine and 12 months' jail.

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