SINGAPORE, May 17 — When 61-year-old Khor Lian Huat noticed the dog he raised at his cousin’s home in Pulau Ubin had a maggot-infested wound, he did not take it to the vet but instead used an antiseptic to clean the wound.

By the time the animal was taken to a vet by non-governmental organisation Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD), the paw was necrotising, that is the cells were dying, and the vet thought the paw would need to be amputated.

Today, Khor was fined S$4,500 (RM15,653) for unreasonably omitting to do an act which caused unnecessary pain and suffering to his dog.

He was also barred from owning any pet for 12 months.

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Pleading for leniency, Khor told the court that he had not neglected his dog, and tried to help it by putting antiseptic on the wound.

He also argued that the circumstances were different from other cases of neglect as his dog was on Pulau Ubin, a “rural area... different from an urban (environment)”.

However, the judge dismissed his claims and said that Khor should have known better by taking his dog to the vet when he noticed the wound was infested with maggots.

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What happened

Mr Lim Chong Hui, prosecutor for the National Parks Board (NParks), told the court that Khor, who lives most of the time on mainland Singapore, kept his dog and its nine puppies with his cousin, Ms Ho Beng Neo, who lived on Pulau Ubin.

Sometime between July and August 2021, Khor visited the island and noticed a wound on his dog’s paw. He cleaned the wound with an antiseptic and instructed his cousin to continue cleaning the dog’s wound before he returned home.

Mr Lim did not mention how the dog injured its paw, or why Khor had left his dog with Mr Ho on Pulau Ubin.

When Khor visited the dog later — Mr Lim said this was “probably one to two weeks later” — Khor noticed that the wound had become bigger with maggots crawling in the wound.

Instead of taking his pet to the vet, he cleaned the wound with an antiseptic and picked out the maggots. He then left the dog with his cousin and returned home.

As the wound worsened, Ms Ho grew worried and asked friends and relatives for help.

Khor’s nephew then put Ms Ho in touch with volunteers from SOSD, who helped take the dog to a vet on mainland Singapore.

By then, the dog’s paw was necrotising and it had several open cavities with maggots. It also had “putrid brown discharge dripping” from the wound.

While the vet expected to amputate the paw due to the severity of the wound, the dog was able to make a full recovery after it was warded for 10 days.

SOSD reported the incident to the Animal and Veterinary Service, part of NParks, on August 26, 2021.

Rural area

The prosecutor sought a fine of S$5,000, arguing that Khor was “well aware that his treatment of (his dog’s) wounds was simply not working”.

“Any ordinary observer would know when they see maggots in a wound that they need to bring a pet to the vet,” said Mr Lim.

He added it was “fortuitous” that the dog’s paw did not need to be amputated because Khor’s cousin had found a way to seek help.

The prosecutor also said that NParks had initially offered him a composition fine of S$1,000 and gave him five reminders to pay the fine.

Khor pleaded for leniency, adding that he loves his dog “like his own child”.

He also said in Mandarin that he did not want to move the dog as it had given birth recently when it was injured, and it was “eager to look after the pups”.

However, District Judge Lorraine Ho noted he had not visited the dog while it was warded at the vet.

“When a person is sick, they need medical treatment even if they stay on Pulau Ubin. It’s the same for pets as well,” she said.

“It is the responsibility of every pet owner to ensure the health of their pets, regardless of where the pet is located.”

For unreasonably omitting to do an act which caused unnecessary pain and suffering to his dog, Khor faced up to 18 months’ jail, a fine of up to S$15,000, or both.

The offence also comes with a disqualification from owning pets for a period of time. — TODAY