Owner seeking answers & stricter enforcement after dog dies in S'pore pet boarding facility while she was overseas

She also hopes other pet owners will learn from her experience.

Hannah Martens | January 26, 2024, 01:47 PM



A couple was enjoying their family vacation in Taiwan when they received a distressing call from Singapore.

The caller informed them that their beloved pet, Miso, had passed away at the boarding facility where they had paid for him to be cared for in their absence.

Miso was a four-year-old Singapore Special.

Miso's owners hope for a thorough investigation into how their beloved pet passed on, and are calling for strict enforcement against any lapses.

They also hope that other owners can learn from their tragic experience and pay closer attention when choosing a boarding facility for their pets.

What happened

Speaking to Mothership, 37-year-old Jazsica shared that she had engaged the boarder to care for Miso while she was away on a trip with her family from Dec. 27, 2023, to Jan. 5, 2024.

On Jan. 2, 2024, they received a call and were told that Miso was found unresponsive in the pet boarding facility.

Miso was rushed to a veterinarian 15 minutes away from the boarding facility, but the pup was declared dead on arrival and could not be resuscitated.

Photo via Misothess/Instagram

Already entered a state of rigor mortis

Jazsica told Mothership that the official veterinary report said Miso had entered a state of rigor mortis when he arrived at the emergency room at around 5pm.

Rigor mortis is a process of a body stiffening after death, and usually begins two to three hours after death, according to Singapore Pets Funeral.

The report also noted stiffness in Miso's jaw, which made resuscitation impossible.

"This unforeseen loss has left our family in deep grief," Jazsica said.

"These circumstances raise concerns about the level of oversight, adequacy of supervision, attentiveness and responsiveness not only towards Miso but also other boarded pets during the same period."

She reported the case to the National Parks Board (NParks) on the night of Jan. 2. An investigating officer from the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) is currently looking into the matter, she said.

Been with the boarder since 2021

Jazsica shared that they have regularly brought Miso there to board since 2021.

She previously placed Miso in another boarding facility. However, she stopped engaging them after Miso came back with diarrhoea and other health issues, and switched to the new boarder after learning about its services through a friend.

After her first experience with the new boarder in 2021, Miso came back dehydrated and with smelly fur, but Jazsica reasoned that Miso might not have wanted to drink due to his discomfort with being in a new environment.

She also reasoned that the facility may have had poor ventilation, resulting in the stench in his fur.

With no other major issues, that boarding facility became their regular one.

Jazsica said it was difficult to find a suitable boarding facility as not all allow Singapore Specials.

Call for stricter enforcement

The boarding facility where Miso passed away is not on AVS's list of licensed pet boarding facilities — but Jazsica was not aware of this until after Miso's passing.

Operating a commercial pet boarding facility without a valid licence from AVS is an offence, according to NParks' website.

This has been the case since April 2022, when new rules for pet breeders and boarding facilities took effect.

Under the new rules, boarding facilities must not board sick animals with transmissible diseases, and are required to administer daily health checks and send their staff for mandatory training and refresher courses, among other licensing conditions.

They are also required to immediately report to AVS if there is any incident of serious injury or death of any animals in the boarding facility.

Jazsica hopes the authorities will consider stricter enforcement against unlicensed dog boarding, including making it mandatory for pet boarding companies to display their license number on their advertisements.

Message to pet owners

Jazsica has refrained from naming the boarder in her public posts on the matter, citing the ongoing investigation.

But she hopes pet owners will be more careful in how they choose pet boarding facilities.

"We feel pet owners rely on online reviews and referrals to select their choice of boarding facility and totally neglect the fact that we should check whether they are licensed," she said.

Besides checking whether the facility is licensed, she pointed out other considerations pet owners should look into, including:

  • Whether it is possible for owners to visit the boarding facility
  • Whether the boarding facility separates dogs with different temperaments
  • Whether the boarding facility provides updates on the animals, or if the updates are only provided when "chased" by owners
  • Whether the boarding facility pressures owners to share their content on social media (e.g. reposting Instagram stories) or post reviews online (e.g. on Google reviews)

She added:

"We hope all pet owners also do their due diligence and check for themselves (see the actual facility, know if they have live camera recording, playpen set up, service provisions, etc.) before they confirm with the facility."

Mothership has reached out to NParks for more information.

Top photos via Misothess/Instagram