S'pore trainer disputes alleged abuse of golden retriever found with pus-filled wounds

Investigations by AVS are ongoing.

Zhangxin Zheng | January 06, 2023, 08:29 PM

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A young golden retriever was featured on animal welfare group Chained Dog Awareness in Singapore (CDAS)'s page on Dec. 31, 2022, to bring public's attention to the negative impact of using electric and pronged collars on pet dogs.

The post was used by CDAS to discourage the use of aversive methods in dog training.

The one-year-old golden retriever, named Cody, was found to have pus-filled wounds and had matted fur after boarding at The Royal Tail for 10 days, from May 11 to 21, 2022, the post alleged.

In the post, Cody's owner, who is a first-time dog owner, also accused The Royal Tail of not highlighting the severity of the condition and that it was "being brushed off like a small matter".

The Royal Tail's response to allegations

On Jan. 5, the accused trainer from The Royal Tail published a statement to share her side of the story.

Golden retriever did not show negative reaction towards prong and electric collar till March 2022

The Royal Tail shared that they recommended the prong and electric collar to Cody's owner in October 2021 to help the owners better manage Cody who was "difficult to control due to its excitability and large size". During their first contact, the trainer described Cody to be "overly excited" and had torn the trainer's shirt, the statement mentioned.

The Royal Tail said that Cody's owners were happy with the progress they made with Cody through the training by The Royal Tail.

In March 2022, Cody's owners came back to The Royal Tail and said that Cody was still overly excited and reactive towards other dogs. At that point, Cody was wearing both a prong and electric collar "and presented well physically and emotionally", the statement wrote.

Aware of Cody's skin condition in April 2022

The Royal Tail stated that they became aware of Cody's skin issues in April 2022 through the owner's Instagram stories.

The trainer also showed concern and Cody's owner informed them that she had brought Cody to a vet.

Helped to investigate cause of allergy during Cody's boarding

The Royal Tail's trainer said that when Cody was boarded with them in May 2022, they were informed about Cody's skin condition. Half of his mane was shaved and the cause of the skin problem was not identified yet.

At that point, the trainer suspected it could be a nickel allergy and suggested the owner bring the tools so she could help investigate the cause of Cody's symptoms.

Between May 11 and 16, the prong and the electric collar were not used, the statement wrote.

The electric collar was put on the dog four times for short intervals of time across a few days, and the trainer explained that it was to help investigate the cause of allergy.

The trainer also alerted the owner that the collar strap was too small for Cody.

On May 19, the trainer walked Cody for 45 minutes with the prong collar but it started to itch a few hours later. The trainer switched it to a harness but the dog was still itching, the statement revealed. The trainer reported to Cody's owner about it.

The statement also revealed that Cody's owner thanked the trainer for helping with the investigation on May 20 as they would not have thought of the possibility of nickel allergy.

Cody's owner did not flag displeasure directly to the trainer

The trainer said that between May 17 and May 20, they had tried their best to care for the dog to ease the allergic reaction but the dog "was not cooperative".

The trainer also said that videos and photos were sent to Cody's owner "periodically" and they had advised them to stop using the existing tools, considering Cody could be allergic to nickel and the size of the tool might not be right.

At the end of the boarding, the trainer also advised the owner to stop using the tools until the skin heals and to bring Cody to the vet, according to The Royal Tail's statement.

The trainer asked the owner to keep her updated but no updates were provided from Cody's owner since then, the trainer added.

The Royal Tail was only alerted to the owner's displeasure via social media account Wake Up Singapore on Jan. 1, a few months later.

Why only post about the incident after a few months?

In response to the statement from The Royal Tail, Cody's owner told Mothership that she acknowledged that she did thank the trainer at that point but that was because she was not aware of the dog's actual state.

Cody's owner contracted Covid-19 and was in isolation at that time, so a friend picked Cody up instead.

The owner added that she did not contact The Royal Tail anymore as her priority then was to nurse Cody back to health, and she was overwhelmed by the responsibilities she had.

She also said that the issue only surfaced now because the vet that Cody visits regularly wanted to share the photo of its injuries to create awareness and she agreed to do so.

That's how CDAS learnt about the case and wrote a post about it, she added.

"At this point, I do not want to go into any debate with her (the trainer). She is free to make any comments she wishes to. The case will be investigated by AVS and the truth will speak for itself," Cody's owner said.

AVS investigating

Previously, Jessica Kwok, Group Director of the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), told Mothership that they were alerted to a case of the alleged abuse of a dog and investigations are ongoing.

"AVS does not condone mistreatment of community animals and will take necessary and appropriate enforcement action against anyone who does not provide adequate care for their pet or has committed an act of animal cruelty."

Individuals who are found guilty of failure in duty of care to their pets (including pet abandonment) or committing acts of animal cruelty can be charged under the Animals and Birds Act.

Top image via The Royal Tail's Instagram and CDAS' Facebook.