SINGAPORE: The owner of Top Breed Pet Farm at Pasir Ris was fined S$180,000 and disqualified from running any animal-related businesses for six months on Wednesday (Jun 7), after he was found guilty of failing to treat eight dogs found in poor health.
Edwin Tan Guowei, 29, was convicted of six of 11 charges for failure in duty of care, breach of farm licensing conditions and operating an unlicensed pet shop. Five other charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.
The dogs were discovered during a surprise inspection by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) on Mar 9 last year. AVA officers found six dogs, including three Shih Tzus, in poor condition. They told Tan to take the dogs to the veterinarian immediately.
According to the vet’s report, five of the dogs suffered from eye problems, including ulcers and swelling. One of the dogs, a husky, had open wounds, and a pomeranian was found to be completely blind.
After a follow-up examination about four months later, the vet noted the conditions of four of the dogs had improved, but not significantly. The other two dogs had died by this time.
The prosecutor said although Tan was aware the six dogs had been in poor health, and tried to treat them, “he did not bring the dogs to the vet … and failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the dogs were protected from, and rapidly diagnosed of any injury or disease”.
AVA also found that the farm did not comply with its pet farm licensing conditions related to housing and animal health, and production records were also found to be inaccurate.
In addition, AVA investigations subsequently found that Tan operated a pet shop at Bukit Merah Central without an AVA licence. Tan was ordered to stop selling animals immediately, it said.
The disqualification order, which will prevent Tan from running any animal-related businesses for six months, will take effect on Aug 7, to give him time to rehome more than 180 dogs still on the farm.
HIGHEST FINE FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENCES
AVA said in a press release on Wednesday that the fine imposed on Tan was the highest imposed on anyone for committing animal cruelty and welfare-related offences.
The authority pressed for a deterrent sentence and a disqualification in view of the severity of Tan's offences, it said.
This is also the first time a disqualification order has been issued for animal-related businesses, after a 2015 amendment to the Animals and Birds Act to include provisions for disqualification orders and higher penalties for offences committed by those involved in animal related businesses.
For failing to provide proper care of the dogs while conducting an animal-related business, Tan could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$40,000, or both, on each charge.
The maximum sentence for non-compliance with pet farm licensing conditions is a fine of S$10,000 and a one-year jail term for the first conviction, and that for selling pets without a license is a fine of S$5,000.