SPCA head responds to volunteer's allegations of dog neglect, says euthanasia last resort

Ms Jermaine Chua had hit out at the animal group over its treatment of dogs including Jaycee (left). SPCA responded to the allegations, along with a photo of one of its volunteers.
Ms Jermaine Chua had hit out at the animal group over its treatment of dogs including Jaycee (left). SPCA responded to the allegations, along with a photo of one of its volunteers.PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/JAYCEE JC, SPCA SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - The executive director for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has responded to a former volunteer's allegations of neglect, telling The Straits Times on Saturday (Oct 28) that euthanising an animal is the organisation's last resort.

The volunteer, Jermaine Chua, had written on SPCA's Facebook page on Sunday (Oct 22), accusing the animal shelter of neglecting a few dogs, in particular a young dog named Jaycee that she eventually took in before leaving SPCA.

In her lengthy post, which is no longer publicly available, Ms Chua said Jaycee was "sentenced to death", saying SPCA staff told her she would be "PTS", or put to sleep.

She said staff labelled the black female dog as aggressive and employees did not try to resolve the underlying issues that caused the perceived aggression.

"You said she was aggressive and couldn't be rehomed as even the staff couldn't handle her," she wrote. "During the few times I was there that week, I didn't see any staff going near her. I was told the staff didn't even want to go near as she was barking at them... I was told to remove Jaycee within two days, failing which SPCA will take actions 'in the best interests of everyone including Jaycee'."

Dr Jaipal Singh Gill told ST that it was not true that Jaycee had been definitively slated for euthanasia.

"SPCA management had not yet made a final decision on this case," he said. "We had discussed various options."

He added that SPCA "definitely considers" other options, such as foster care and rehabilitation, as long as they are available.

"In this instance, Jermaine had indicated that she would take Jaycee if we were not able to keep her and we were very happy with this outcome, as a bond had developed between them," he said.

SPCA management considers euthanasia a last resort that it takes only "after all other options have been discussed and considered, with input from our veterinary consultants," said Dr Gill.

"It is with a heavy heart that we do it. An animal's health, quality of life, temperament and availability of shelter space are major considerations in this decision," he said.

Ms Chua also highlighted cases of other dogs that she says were neglected, including a cocker spaniel that had blood in its urine but "was left unattended to" and "a blind silky terrier with so much gunk stuck to her eyes" that was not cleaned up.

The animal lover, who started fostering dogs for SPCA six years ago, added that kennels had dirt stains and excrement in them.

SPCA had posted a response to Ms Chua's allegations on Facebook on Wednesday (Oct 25).

"In the last year, the percentage of animals we euthanised was 17 per cent (a proportion of the animals were very badly injured or sick, and whose quality of life would be poor despite medical intervention), down from 27 per cent in 2014 and 55 per cent in 2012," it wrote.

In its post, SPCA also explained what happened to the other two dogs that Ms Chua mentioned.

The cocker spaniel underwent surgery and is recuperating, while the silky terrier had its eyes cleaned at the SPCA clinic "when required". However, it died more than two weeks after it was rescued.

Dr Gill, who was appointed SPCA's acting executive director in January last year, said SPCA currently takes in about 170 animals per month.

"We try our best to save every animal and to find good homes for them," he said.

He added that many of the sick and injured animals are successfully treated through surgery, dedicated care, fostering, and rehabilitation.

"Our staff choose a career in animal welfare because they want to make a positive difference," wrote SPCA in its response to Ms Chua. "Together with volunteers and the community, we work hard to improve our services and the lives of rescued animals... There will no doubt be differences in opinion along the way, and where feedback is constructive, we will take it on board, for the animals under our care."