SINGAPORE: A dog trainer pleaded guilty on Thursday (May 5) after two dogs that were in her care died as a result of being left in a car boot for around 90 minutes.
Sabrina Sim Xin Huey, 30, had been accused of failing to remove the two French bulldogs from her car after she had parked, resulting in them being subjected to heat exposure and eventually dying from heat stress.
Court documents showed that in January 2020, Sim - who has been a dog trainer since 2014 - had been engaged by the complainant to train one of her dogs for 10 sessions.
Sim was subsequently engaged to train her other dog when it arrived in Singapore as well.
The dogs, named Chocoby and Hunniby, were both imported by the complainant - who was not named - from Australia into Singapore.
"The arrangement involved boarding and training services where both dogs would stay with the accused during the whole training period," said National Parks Board prosecutor Andy Dinesh in his statement of facts.
On Aug 25, 2020, Sim drove both dogs in her car to a training session, which started at about 12.30pm and ended at around 1.45pm.
The dogs were placed by Sim in the boot of the vehicle, which was a hatchback with an open boot area.
"After the session, the accused placed both dogs in the car boot of her car and drove home," said Mr Dinesh, noting the vehicle's air-conditioning was switched on during this journey.
Sim reached home at about 2.30pm and parked her car, turning off the engine and thus ending the airconditioning, said Mr Dinesh, noting the vehicle's windows were also wound up.
The car was parked in an unsheltered spot in the open-air carpark, the prosecutor added.
"Distracted by a social media post involving a former customer’s second dog being bitten by another dog, the accused forgot to remove both dogs from the car when she exited the car," he said.
Sim then closed the car door - leaving both animals in the car boot - and went up to her apartment.
At about 4:00 pm, she realised she had left the two dogs in the car and immediately ran to the vehicle, finding both animals unresponsive.
Sim then sent both dogs to a nearby veterinary clinic, which she reached at about 4.30pm, where they were examined by the vet.
Both dogs were found to be dead by the time they arrived at the clinic.
Tissue samples from Chocoby were sent for a post-mortem examination, with the veterinary pathology report stating that the French bulldog had been in a stressful state prior to its demise with increased turnover of erythrocytes, or red blood cells.
"A medical summary dated Apr 3, 2022 stated that the histopathology findings showed no evidence of infection nor inflammation and supported the diagnosis of heat stress as the cause of death," said Mr Dinesh.
Sim pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the dog was not confined in a manner that subjected it to unnecessary pain and suffering, with another charge taken into consideration.
Sim will return to court for sentencing on Jun 1.
She faces a fine up to S$40,000 or imprisonment for up to two years, or both.