Graphic designer Kristine Tan lodged her seven-year-old shih tzu Willa with a home boarder last December and it was returned to her completely blind after a few days.
Willa had already lost one eye to a tumour when Ms Tan and her copywriter husband Nicholas Wilder, 33, adopted it last year. It lost the other after a fight with another dog at the boarder's flat.
Around Christmas season last year, the couple decided to go on a holiday trip at the last minute and badly needed a boarder for Willa. Ms Tan recalled the number of a home boarder she had met.
"I did not visit this boarder's home to check out the conditions. I remembered him seeming like a nice person who cared about dogs and had experience working with them," she says. "It was a huge risk."
At the boarder's HDB flat, Willa got into a fight with another dog and its eyeball was dislodged. The boarder took it to the nearest veterinarian, who was able to save the animal's eyeball but not its sight.
"I will forever regret my decision leaving Willa with this boarder," says Ms Tan, adding that she had to pay the boarder for the veterinary costs, transportation charges to the vet and post-vet medication feeding. "He did not even offer to compensate."
Some other pet owners whom Life! spoke to also shared negative experiences that they had with boarders, where their pets came back to them with allergies, infections or fight wounds.
Some of these boarding facilities were in farm areas, while others were HDB flats and private residential properties.
According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), pet boarding facilities should be located in suitable farm areas or on premises where the use is "unlikely to cause disamenities to the surrounding residents". Planning permission is also required from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for the use of such premises as pet boarding facilities.
The AVA does not allow HDB flats and private residential properties to be used as pet boarding facilities. "The relevant agencies will investigate if there is any feedback on unauthorised use," says an AVA spokesman.
Pet owners say they know what home boarders are doing is against the rules, but are happy to go to these unlicensed home boarders - in spite of the risks involved - because they offer their pets shelter in a home environment.