Pet smuggler Koh Cheow Chuan hoped to earn $1,050 by ferrying 21 puppies from Malaysia in the boot of his car.
Instead, he received a 10-week jail sentence yesterday after a court heard he subjected the animals to unnecessary cruelty by cramming them into a spare tyre compartment.
Koh, 28, was caught with the 14 pomeranians and seven pugs at the Woodlands Checkpoint last November.
The court heard the Singaporean sales representative arranged to smuggle them into Singapore after meeting a man, known only as Noel.
At first, Koh turned down the offer of $50 for each puppy brought into the country.
But he later agreed after finding himself facing financial difficulties.
He removed the spare tyre from his boot and drove to the carpark of the Jusco shopping mall in Johor Baru.
A man parked his car next to Koh's and placed the 21 sedated puppies on top of some newspapers and ice packs in the spare tyre compartment.
Koh was then told to return to Singapore and await further instructions from Noel.
However, the pups were discovered after officers carried out an inspection at the checkpoint.
The puppies were seized by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) and placed under observation at the Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station.
Two of them later died.
Koh pleaded guilty last month to bringing in the pups without a licence and causing unnecessary cruelty.
At the time, AVA prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said the import of dogs is regulated to prevent rabies being introduced in Singapore.
The disease - which can be fatal - is transmitted to humans by bites from infected animals.
Singapore has been free of it for more than 60 years.
Mr Yap also told the court that animals should be transported in proper crates and not sedated.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan pointed out that Koh had committed the offences for financial gain.
"Although, he did not receive the money, that is not a relevant fact," the judge added.
Koh could have been fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to a year on each charge.
Had the puppies been successfully smuggled in, each could have been sold for up to $1,000.
Animal owners told The Straits Times that pet shops charge up to $3,000 for a pug or pomeranian but the creatures come with papers that attest to their pedigree.