1-year-old golden retriever has pus-filled wounds & matted fur after boarding 10 days with trainer

AVS is investigating the incident.

Zi Shan Kow | January 05, 2023, 04:17 PM

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A woman in Singapore rushed her golden retriever to the emergency hospital after entrusting it with a training and boarding facility for 10 days.

Owner struggled to manage golden retriever

The incident was shared by animal welfare group Chained Dog Awareness in Singapore (CDAS) on Facebook.

Cody, a golden retriever, was just three months old when his owner, E, took him in.

While the first-time dog owner was prepared to shower him with love and care, the active puppy proved to be more than she could manage.

CDAS said E had been "unfamiliar with a puppy’s training needs". Cody quickly outgrew his playpen, learned to open a baby gate and became destructive when he was teething.

Outdoors, the 35kg golden retriever "pulled and lunged towards everything – birds, kids, people, and other dogs" and E struggled to restrain the dog.

Attempts to tire him out with multiple walks, enrichment toys and snuffle mats were also unsuccessful.

One boarding facility had rejected Cody for being "too active and boisterous", and E had also consulted a trainer who taught her some positive reinforcement methods, but it was fruitless.

Behaviour improved with training

At this point, E was at her wits end and had even considered rehoming the dog.

Then, a daycare centre suggested a trainer, C, who could help.

During their first meeting with C, one-year-old Cody was uncontrollable, pouncing and jumping.

The trainer gave "a kick on his rear" to calm him down, wrote CDAS.

C also recommended a board and train programme and introduced E to the option of using tools.

E placed Cody in a three-week programme with C and received regular updates about him during that time.

After the programme, she was relieved to see an improvement in Cody's behaviour, especially during walks.

So, when she went overseas, she felt that Cody would be in good hands with C.

Rushed to the emergency hospital

Over the next 10 days, Cody's owner noticed that she was receiving fewer updates from C.

When she returned from her trip, she asked her friend to pick Cody up, as she had contracted Covid-19.

She was horrified to find that Cody was dirty, smelled terrible and had matted fur.

There were wounds on his neck that were infected and filled with pus, so she rushed Cody to an emergency hospital.

The trainer had brushed his injuries off and she did not expect the severity of Cody's condition, said CDAS.

Mothership understands that the business E engaged was The Royal Tail, and has reached out to the facility for a comment.

Engage trainers that do not cause harm

Speaking to Mothership, Cody's owner said she hopes that her experience can raise awareness for other dog owners to be careful about the trainers they engage.

"It’s not an easy journey especially when the dog is not easy to handle. End of the day, tools are just tools but if it falls in the ends of the wrong person, it might end up the wrong way."

CDAS said that such stories are common, when inexperienced pet owners struggle with difficult dogs that lack boundaries or structure.

The group also encourages owners to prioritise the welfare of their pets and seek help from trainers that do not cause harm.

"Aversive methods can be immediately effective but this stems from fear and pain," wrote CDAS.

CDAS told Mothership they believe the injuries around Cody's neck are likely caused by a prong collar.

The chain-link metal collar has a series of hooks that press into the neck when pulled.

AVS is investigating

Mothership reached out to the National Parks Board (NParks) for a statement.

Jessica Kwok, Group Director of the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), said 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.

First-time offenders who fail in the duty of care to their pets can face a maximum fine of S$10,000 or a jail term of up to 12 months, or both.

First-time offenders who commit animal cruelty-related offences can face a maximum fine of $S15,000, or a jail term of up to 18 months, or both.

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Top images by Cody's owner.