Despite being fed twice a day, the dog became thinner.
This went on for about a month, but the domestic helper did not suspect anything was wrong as it was still very agile and active.
Until she found it dead in its cage one morning last May.
After its carcass was brought to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Chilli, a female cross-breed, was found to be severely emaciated.
Its owner, Mr Lim Soo Seng, 76, a businessman, was yesterday fined the maximum $10,000 for failing to bring his dog for treatment, causing it unnecessary suffering.
Court documents said the dog had been neglected before its death.
The court also heard that Mr Lim had adopted the female dog from the SPCA in 2007, when it was about a year old.
As Mr Lim and his wife were busy, they would leave Chilli and their other three dogs to their Indonesian maid.
The maid told The New Paper yesterday that she would feed it dog food twice a day. She started working for the family in 2012.
"Chilli ate every time we fed it. It was strange that it became skinnier because it was eating normally every day.
"But even when it was getting thinner, it would still run around and bark happily. It didn't look like it was sick," she said.
She added that everything was fine until April last year when the dog started becoming thinner.
The court heard that the maid had informed her employers of the dog's condition, but they did not take it to a vet as they were too busy.
On May 16, Chilli stopped eating. Again, the maid told her employers about it.
The owner's wife said that she would take Chilli to the veterinarian the next day. But the dog died before she could do so.
Mr Lim took Chilli's carcass to the SPCA that morning and a vet later found it to have been in very poor health.
Court documents stated that the dog was "exceedingly emaciated" with "multi-organ dysfunction".
In mitigation, defence lawyer Anthony Lee said Chilli had always appeared to be very lean since it was adopted.
He also said that before the day the dog stopped eating, Mr Lim did not bring Chilli to a vet as he had found no change in its appetite. This was a mistake that Mr Lim made, the lawyer added.
"Our client unreservedly accepts the fact that he failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision in respect of Chilli and is extremely remorseful," he said.
When TNP visited Mr Lim's bungalow in Aljunied yesterday, neither Mr Lim nor his wife were in.
The Indonesian maid was observed playing with the family's remaining three dogs. All of them looked healthy and in good condition.
An SPCA spokesman said responsible pet owners should be proactive in providing adequate food, shelter and veterinary care for their pets.
"This responsibility should not be taken lightly, nor should it be passed conveniently to someone else," he said.
In January, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam announced stiffer fines and longer jail terms for animal abusers at the opening ceremony of the Asia for Animals Conference.
Under new legislation that is expected to be passed this year, those convicted of animal cruelty under the Animals and Birds Act face fines of $50,000 and/or a jail term of up to three years for repeat offenders. They could also be banned from keeping animals for up to one year.
Currently, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a maximum jail term of one year, or both.
This article was published on April 25 in The New Paper.
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