The owner of Platinium Dogs Club (PDC), 33-year-old Charlotte Liew, was sentenced on Aug. 31 to two week’s imprisonment and fined S$35,700 for multiple offences.
Liew was also banned from running an animal-related business for 12 months.
Pled guilty to seven charges
PDC offered boarding services for dogs at a residential house on 7 Galistan Avenue in Bukit Panjang.
Two years ago, the PDC saga led to national outrage when several dogs allegedly died in their care, and when Liew refused to reveal the whereabouts of 7-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Prince.
In court, Liew pleaded guilty to seven charges.
Four charges were for failing in her duty to care for the dogs.
One charge was for obstructing the course of justice by disposing of Prince's carcass, another was for operating PDC as an unregistered business, and the last charge was for providing false information when registering PDC.
Led to death of shetland sheepdog, Prince
Mao Yanchai, the owner of Prince, paid S$945 to Liew to board the pet with PDC while she was overseas from Dec. 16, 2018, to Jan. 22, 2019.
The arrangement was for Mao's dog, Prince, to board by himself in a private room and fed twice a day. Mao was also told that a PDC staff would be present in PDC at all times and that the facility would be fully air-conditioned.
The dog died while under Liew's care sometime between Dec. 22 and 24 in 2018, but the actual circumstances and cause of its death are unknown.
Liew claims that it was bitten to death by another dog at PDC in her absence.
Cremated Prince under a different name
On Dec. 24, Liew hired a pet cremation company under a fake name and lied that the carcass was that of a 15-year-old dog named Crayon that she owned.
Before the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) could investigate the cause of Prince's death, the dog had already been cremated.
Liew then texted Mao on Dec. 30, claiming that Prince was missing. She added that AVA officers raided PDC and removed some dogs that were unlicensed, and left the PDC's premises unlocked.
When Mao responded that Prince was licensed and asked for more information, Liew stopped replying, and ignored her phone calls.
Mao went to PDC to look for Liew, and implored her to reveal Prince's whereabouts, even getting onto her knees.
Liew ignored her pleas, and members of the public joined Mao in search parties to look for Prince without knowing that he had already died.
Dogs leashed up in closed, unventilated rooms with no access to water
Prompted by multiple complaints from dog owners and members of public against PDC, AVA officers visited PDC on Dec. 27 and 29. Liew was uncontactable both times.
AVA then sought permission and assistance of the landlord of the premises occupied by PDC to enter PDC on Dec. 29.
Liew was nowhere to be seen, and a total of 12 dogs and one rabbit were found in the premises.
Some of these animals were leashed to fixtures while others were roaming freely. Urine and faeces were littered throughout all three floors of the premises.
AVA officers found two dogs in a closed room on the first floor of the premises, tied to short leashes to a fixture on the window of the room.
The room was hot and stuffy with poor ventilation as all windows were closed and there was no air-conditioning or fans.
Liew was found to have caused unnecessary suffering to a white husky, which could only sit, stand on all fours, turn around and make approximately one step forward due to the short leash.
No water was available to the dog, which was panting and thirsty. When AVA officers provided some water, it lapped up a large amount over a short span of time.
Tethered on a short leash, the husky also did not have adequate separate areas for toilet, feeding and rest.
In another room, officers found three dogs in similar conditions, all leashed to fixtures in a hot and stuffy room. Besides a standing fan that was switched on, there was no other source of ventilation in the room as all windows were shut.
Like the husky, another thirsty Australian Shepherd was found next to an empty water bowl in the room.
Given that it was tethered on a short leash, it was only allowed to sit, stand on all fours, turn around and make around two steps forward. It also did not have adequate separate areas for toileting, eating or drinking and resting.
Led to death of Jack Russell Terrier, QQ
Liew was also found to have caused the death of a 14-year-old Jack Russel Terrier called QQ.
Her owner, Png Lee Kun, had sent QQ and another dog, a Jack Russel cross Maltese called Louis, for boarding from Dec. 20 to 27, 2018.
As QQ had suffered from acute pancreatitis the previous year, Png had specifically told Liew that she could only consume the special low-fat kibbles she had provided.
During their stay, Liew placed QQ and Louis’ respective kibbles in their bowls but did not ensure that QQ consumed only her own special low-fat kibble. Liew also gave QQ unsuitable kibbles on occasion.
Liew failed to provide daily updates to Png about the dogs as well. On Dec. 26, she urged her to pick up QQ quickly, saying that QQ was always lying down and that she had no appetite.
The next day, at Png's request, Liew sent a video of QQ lying down and not responding. She looked skinny with abrasions on her inner thighs, and had faeces and urine all over her.
Liew told Png that QQ did not eat much and seemed like she was dying. Png then asked her to bring QQ to the vet.
Liew left the clinic immediately after dropping off QQ, and the dog died of acute renal failure 4.5 hours after admission.
This was possibly due to QQ's sudden intake of fatty diet. According to Png, the special low-fat kibbles she provided for QQ was eventually returned to her untouched.
Gave up looking for escaped dog
On Dec. 30, 2018, Texas, a dog that boarded at PDC, escaped at about 6am when Liew opened the gate.
Liew gave up after following the dog for a while as she found him to be aggressive.
When a neighbour who witnessed this volunteered to help her look for the dog, Liew rebuffed her.
The neighbour managed to find Texas, and coaxed it back to their home before returning the dog to its owner two days later. Liew had made no enquiries about Texas in the meantime.
Said she would have done things differently
According to The Straits Times, Liew's lawyer said that she was remorseful.
He added that in hindsight, Liew would have done things differently.
For failing to care for the animals, Liew could have been jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$40,000, or both.
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Top images via Elaine Mao.