Case of euthanised dog to be investigated, AVS should be allowed to do its job 'without public pressure': Shanmugam
SINGAPORE: The case of a dog that was put down is currently "pending investigations" by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Wednesday (May 13), as he called for members of the public to exercise restraint over the matter.
"There has been a fair bit of online discussion about Loki, a puppy that was put down," said Mr Shanmugam in a Facebook post.
"This particular matter is pending investigations by AVS, which should be allowed to do its job without public pressure, one way or another," said the minister.
The dog's euthanisation has drawn widespread public attention over the past week, with netizens expressing anger at Loki's owners and the vet who put the dog down.
In a Facebook post last week, non-profit organisation Exclusively Mongrels said that Loki's owners had euthanised it for "purported aggression".
"One of our adopted dogs, Loki, was recently put down by his adopters," said the organisation. "Like most of you, we were (and still are) extremely distraught with his passing."
The organisation said there was a clause in all adoption agreements that says the adopted dog should be returned to Exclusively Mongrels if the adopter cannot care for it.
"This was not the case for Loki," said the organisation, adding that it had lodged a report with AVS.
Member of Parliament Louis Ng also responded to the incident, writing in a Facebook post that he would address the matter in Parliament.
"I will raise this in Parliament and call for measures to be put in place to ensure that this needless killing ends," said Mr Ng. "We must put an end to 'convenience euthanasia'. We need stricter regulations."
"WE HAVE TO GET ALL THE FACTS FIRST"
In his Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr Shanmugam said he could understand why people were upset, but stressed that it was important to get all the facts about the case and not jump to conclusions.
"I can understand people being upset, and wanting justice. No one likes to see a puppy, full of life, put down," said the minister. "But we have to get all the facts first, understand why the vet in this matter came to a view."
"Coming to conclusions, calling into question the professionalism of the vet, without all the facts, is a bit unfortunate."
Mr Shanmugam said a senior veterinarian had written to him about the matter.
She expressed "deep disquiet and concern" about the way the professionalism of the vet involved in the matter was called into question, without the vet being given a proper opportunity to state a defence, said Mr Shanmugam.
In her email, the contents of which were shared by the minister in his post, the vet who wrote in said she had been the subject of online harassment by former clients, and had "first-hand experience of the fear and distress that the clinic’s staff, as well as the vet in question, is likely going through".
Ending a pet's life is one of the "hardest parts" of a vet's job and "one which no vet takes lightly", she said in the email.
"It is hard enough having to deal with the emotions of ending a life, without also having to live in the constant fear of being ‘doxxed’ by individuals who seek to take matters into their own hands by engaging in cyberbullying," she added.
In his post, Mr Shanmugam cautioned that reputations can be damaged and "deep distress" caused in such cases, as pointed out by the vet who emailed him.
"Most of us don’t go out and hit people, when we are angry. The same applies, on the net," he added. "We can't go and hit out at people, whenever we feel that some injustice has been done - we can't just react and hit out, with our emotions, when other people are involved."
There are avenues for justice to be done in the event of wrongdoing, said Mr Shanmugam.
"I think many who expressed their views were genuinely upset, and may not have considered the effect their cyber comments may have on the targets," he said. "I hope we can become a society where people will first get the facts, then express our feelings, in a way that doesn’t invite more violence."