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Dog breeder fined $50,000 for mistreating dogs

Dog breeder and farm owner fined $50,000 for mistreating dogs under his care. -TNP

Sat, May 28, 2011
The New Paper

By Pearly Tan

THE dogs were skeletal, lethargic and tick-ridden.

Owner and dog breeder Benny Neo, 31, had given them up as he was unable to manage the farm at Pasir Ris Farmway 2.

When 30-year-old animal rescuer Derrick Tan and his volunteer friends bought them in April last year, they found the 75 dogs to be in bad shape.

Yesterday, Neo, who ran The Pet Hotel, was fined $50,000 after he pleaded guilty to 10 charges of cruelty to animals. Five other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The charges involved 15 dogs in all.

A year on, most of the dogs from the farm have left their painful past behind.

Mr Tan, who informed the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority after discovering the poor health of the dogs, told The New Paper that of the 75 dogs, only two or three have yet to be adopted.

The breeds of the dogs include shih tzus, miniature schnauzers, a shetland sheepdog and a golden retriever.

He said: "When we first found them, the weaker ones were cowering in a corner and trying to hide. We quickly took them to the vet because they were in a terrible condition.

"It was traumatising because the dogs' health was so poor that about 10 of them died in the first month after we took over."

Mr Tan added that six of the dogs were sent for immediate veterinary attention, followed by another 13 that were found to be in a serious condition.

The dogs were later transferred to a nearby pet hotel and shelter - Mutts and Mittens, also located at Pasir Ris Farmway 2.

Its director, Mr Cohen Ng, 48, said that the adoption drive was held to help the animals find new homes.

Good homes

He said: "We promoted the drives mostly via the Internet and through word of mouth, and have managed to find good homes for most of them."

The New Paper understands that one of the dogs, Lala, a maltese, was adopted by a MediaCorp artiste.

The court was told that Neo had bought the farm in January last year. He had no experience in dog breeding, and it was agreed that the previous owner would coach him on how to breed and care for the dogs.

The farm was handed over to Neo in the the following month, and he employed a Vietnamese worker to clean the kennels and feed the dogs.

However, the court heard that Neo skimped on dog food, spending only $450 on it each month.

The animals shared one big bowl, and the weaker ones did not get to eat and fell ill from starvation.

When Mr Tan found the dogs, some of them had hair loss, inflamed skin and were underweight, their ribs and hip bones clearly visible.

He said: "Some had kidney failure, were emaciated and had pale gums, indicating low blood and general poor health."

The Pet Hotel first made news last April, when The New Paper reported that Mr Tan bought over the dogs with the help of anonymous donors. His friend had informed him that the owner had run out of money to continue his dog-breeding business and intended to sell the dogs to other breeding farms.

Mr Tan stepped in as he felt too many dogs were being bred and sold to irresponsible owners who would later abandon them.

Mr Tan and some volunteers had arranged with the owner to take care of the dogs temporarily. Soon after, they bought over the dogs and found many of them to be sick. Some were even dying.

The team cleaned up the place, which was wet and smelly when it should have been clean and dry.

The farm was back in the news a month later, when an SMS - claiming that a puppy mill owner had abandoned his dogs and that they would be put down if they were not adopted within a week - went viral.

Hundreds of people also rushed there, disrupting the operation of pet farms in the area.

But the SMS was inaccurate, and there were no puppies for adoption, as many of them had come to believe. The dogs were all adult dogs formerly used for breeding. The youngest was eight years old.

For each charge of cruelty to animals, Neo could have been jailed one year and fined $10,000.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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