SINGAPORE: A man who wanted a dog for companionship adopted a Jack Russell terrier for free before selling it for S$1,000 because it damaged his furniture, he said.
He later adopted another two Maltese dogs, but lost one of them when transporting them home, and the second one two days later.
Steven Seah Shao Yi, 42, was fined S$3,300 on Wednesday (Oct 6) for one charge of using his flat as a pet shop to keep a dog for sale without a licence, and a second charge of failing to keep his dog on a leash and under control.
A third charge related to losing his dog was considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Seah came across a Facebook post in June 2020 listing a Jack Russell terrier for adoption. The original owner had adopted it from a friend but realised after a few days that they could not keep the pet as it was showing hostility to his children.
Seah visited the dog and interacted with it for two hours before adopting it. He was to bring the dog for a scheduled vet appointment later, but did not turn up, claiming he was unwell.
A few days after he adopted the dog, its original owner found out that Seah had put the dog up for adoption on Facebook for a fee of S$1,000.
The original owner contacted Seah and said he would take action if Seah proceeded to sell the dog. Seah replied that the dog scratched his sofa and was barking non-stop.
The original owner went to Seah's house that same day and asked for the dog, but Seah refused to hand it over, saying he was the current owner of the dog and could do whatever he wanted.
The dog's former owner lodged a report with the National Parks Board's (NParks) Animal & Veterinary Service and posted on Facebook about it.
Another interested owner eventually paid Seah S$1,000 for the terrier. NParks prosecutor Wendy Tan said the standard adoption rate at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is between S$25 and S$350, calling Seah's fee "a grossly inflated sum".
A few months after this, in October 2020, Seah went to view two Maltese dogs that were put up for adoption without a fee, as the dogs could not get along with their owner's cat.
He decided to adopt them and accepted two dog leashes from the previous owner, before booking a GrabPet hire car to head home.
When the car arrived, he claimed one of the dogs named Uno broke free of its collar and escaped. A deliveryman in the area saw a roaming dog and got a friend to help him check its microchip at a vet.
Uno was eventually put up for adoption after Seah rejected taking the dog. According to the third charge taken into consideration, the other Maltese dog named Snuggle was found at large two days after Seah adopted it.
The prosecutor sought a fine of S$3,500, while Seah asked for S$1,000.
HE SAYS HE DIDN'T KNOW JACK RUSSELL WAS "DESTRUCTIVE"
He said he was not told the Jack Russell terrier had a biting habit or "destructive behaviour". He said it had scratched his sofa and damaged his phone and wallet.
"The fee I asked for is to cover these losses," he told the judge. "At the same time, because I'm suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), all (this damage) is causing me a lot of anxiety, so I have to mitigate the (damage) done to my property."
He said when Uno ran away, he tried looking for it for more than an hour.
When District Judge Marvin Bay asked Seah why he sought a dog despite having "severe" OCD, Seah said he wanted one for companionship.
"But you're aware that you're keeping a living creature, that is a responsibility ... it will shed fur as well, and will have bodily functions?" asked the judge.
"I was willing to come up with the extra effort to take care of the dogs," said Seah. He explained that he decided to get the two Maltese dogs as he thought they would be more compliant than a Jack Russell terrier. They also came in a pair and he "didn't want to separate them".
He could have been fined up to S$5,000 for each charge he pleaded guilty to.