SINGAPORE - A broker who repeatedly left his dog trapped on an apartment balcony without enough food and water has been fined $5,000 for animal cruelty.
Roy Ling Chung Yee, 36, caused "unnecessary suffering" after exposing the border collie to the elements for up to six hours a day.
The abuse lasted for half a year until the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) stepped in and called the police.
Ling, who lives alone at a condominium in Selegie, has now been convicted under the Animals and Birds Act - the first such case in recent years. Court documents reveal how he left the pet - called Hugo - outside come rain or shine over a six-month period in 2011.
During his trial earlier this year, Ling argued that the lock on the balcony sliding door was broken and the dog was free to enter the flat. But District Judge Ng Peng Hong rejected this claim, ruling that the broker had failed to provide enough food and water for his pet.
He added that Hugo did not have to be sick or injured to go through "unnecessary suffering".
Ling's cruelty was revealed after a neighbour and two other residents noticed the dog's plight and reported him to the SPCA. It alerted the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) which advised Ling to improve his pet's care. When he carried on regardless, the society went to the police. Eleven prosecution witnesses took the stand during the five-day trial.
They included veterinarians, AVA officers, an SPCA investigator and a dog trainer.
Ling could have been jailed for up to a year and fined up to $10,000. He had until Tuesday to appeal against his sentence, which was handed down last month. But it was not clear by press time whether he had done so.
SPCA executive director Corinne Fong said in a statement that the ruling would "make owners think twice" about keeping pets outdoors without proper care. "We are elated with this verdict as it sets a precedent for the future," she said. "This is not the first case, and it's not going to be the last."
The SPCA investigates between 10 and 20 similar cases each year. Most of the owners agree to take better care of their pet.
In April, the Government accepted recommendations by an expert panel to tighten animal welfare legislation.
In the future, those convicted of animal cruelty could face up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.
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