AVA KILLED A GOLDEN RETRIEVER DESPITE REPEATED REASSURANCE THAT THEY WOULD NOT
THIS IS A PICTURE OF AN 11 YEAR-OLD GOLDEN RETRIEVER THAT AVA PUT DOWN JUST LAST WEEK despite my family's best efforts against it. AVA has left my family and I distressed and very angry. In the span of three weeks, they have shown that they are an organisation that is not to be trusted, disorganized and negligent toward the care for the animals that they take in.
We approached the organisation to help us find the owners of a lost Golden Retriever we had found along Upper Changi Road on February 27. The dog was dirty, with prominent skin irritations and no collar. She was clearly in need of care, so we took her home to bathe and feed her. We then brought her to the vet to check if she was micro-chipped With the serial number, we contacted AVA's customer service and reported the found dog.
Our first intention was to return the dog to her owners. Since she was found around our neighborhood it was apparent to us that she belonged to a home nearby. Due to regulations, AVA was unable to disclose the owner's details. We have two dogs of our own and decided to have AVA take the dog in till the owner was contacted. We clearly stated our interest in helping the dog get re-homed or even adopting her ourselves. We were told the AVA service staff would pick her up within the day. On the phone, there was even mention of them visiting the dog owner's home because it was around the area.
When they arrived to take her, we TOLD THEM SPECIFICALLY NOT TO PUT HER DOWN, and to contact us if they were unable to reach the owner. The Chinese gentleman who came to pick her up, assured us that they would not put her down. He even cancelled the "disposal" off the “Disposal of Animal” form, convincing us that it was merely a formality to attain our details and that he would take care of the situation. He added that we could call-in to follow-up on the progress.
We called in four times to check on the dog. Each time, the service personnel said that her manager would call us back, but he/she never did. We were left to check on the situation ourselves, each time stressing not to put the dog down and that we wanted to re-home her once all efforts to contact the dog's owner were exhausted.
March 4- AVA told us that the owner's telephone line was dead and that they would be posting a letter to their address, in a second attempt to reach the owner. They said they would try to re-home the dog.
March 15- Once again AVA was unable to contact the owner. My mum then re-explained that since she was found around our neighborhood and that we could try helping by reaching out to the owner. Understandably, they were unable to disclose the owners’ details. With the mention of our intention to help re-home the dog, the person on the line said that they would get the manager, Vilma to call her for further discussion. Once again, my mum stressed not to put the dog down.
March 16- There was no call from the manager. Again, my mum spoke with customer service and repeated not to put the dog down, and that we had every intention to re-home her. The person on the line repeated the same line-that they would get the manager, Vilma to contact us. However, there was absolutely no follow up.
March 18- After the weekend, we called the AVA to speak to the manager after her continued lack of response. Vilma finally returned the call that afternoon; however to our greatest shock and disappointment, Vilma said that the dog had been put down last week! It was then revealed to us that on record that the owners indeed lived at Bedok Rise. There was no apology or remorse at all expressed for the negligence AVA displayed.
We are familiar that the AVA faces space constraints and puts abandoned animals down when they have no chance of being re-homed. However, this incident shows that AVA's procedures are inadequate, inhumane and lack transparency. My mum repeatedly made clear NOT TO PUT THE DOG DOWN and to inform us if the owner was unable to be contacted or re-homed. A simple call from them would have prevented this from happening. This appeal was blatantly disregarded. The lack of care and concern for the animal destroys any trust one might have of the organisation to aid in the re-homing of abandoned animals.
Furthermore, the AVA failed to explain the action it would take against the owners for abandoning his/her dog. The microchip tagged on the Golden Retriever revealed that she was 11 years-old, and was imported.
In section 42 of The Animal and Birds Act, it states an owner will be deemed to have permitted cruelty to an animal if “(f) being the owner of any animal, abandons the animal without reasonable cause or excuse, whether permanently or not, in circumstances likely to cause the animal any unnecessary suffering or distress, or causes or permits the animal to be so abandoned" and, "shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both".
I hope that AVA will investigate this case and ensure better, smoother management and upholding of the law.
The note above has been also posted on to AVA's Facebook page
IN RESPONSE TO Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), HERE ARE MORE PICTURES OF THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER an hour before she was picked up. We'll let you decide if this looks like a dog that “was not in good condition”.
1. “Our veterinarian noted that the dog, which was old, was not in good condition and had poor appetite. Despite the care and veterinary attention given, its condition continued to deteriorate and it was not able to stand or move by itself.”
- On 27 Feb, when we sent the dog to the vet clinic to scan for a micro-chip, the nurse who did the scan commented that she only had skin conditions.
- We gave the dog food and water, and she was able to eat and drink. She showed no sign of physical sickness or disability and was able to jump in and out of our MPV easily. She was very active and even played with our two dogs. We bathed her and scrubbed her down, and she showed no signs of pain, discomfort or imbalance.
- From the above, she was completely fine in our company (please refer to our photo album). This brings to question - What kind of conditions did you keep her in that would have caused her to deteriorate in a span of just a week, as they have stated?
2. “During this time, we attempted to contact the owner, including taking out a newspaper advertisement over a few days.”
- We acknowledge the AVA's effort to look for the owner. However, at this point there is lack of evidence in this statement. They have yet to substantiate this.
- The AVA failed to exhaust all possible options. Apart from trying to reach the owner through telephone and an advertisement, they didn't visit the owner directly. If they could send someone to pick up the dog, why couldn't they send someone to the owner's house?
3. “By 8 Mar 2013, its condition had deteriorated so badly that our vets made the decision to euthanize it.”
- On 11 Mar, my mother spoke to one of the AVA service staff, and was told that the dog was still at the AVA pound. They also added that they were still in the process of contacting the owner. Note, that this was AFTER 8 Mar.
- As mentioned in my previous post, my mother spoke to Vilma (the manager) on Mar 18 and she informed us that the dog was put down LAST WEEK. Clearly there is a lapse in AVA's recount of events. To add, during the call there was no mention or justification for her (the dog) to be euthanized. Instead they simply reiterated that “she was old”. With no remorse nor apology, they also failed to mention that she faced any illnesses.
- Even if the dog was indeed sick and in poor health, as claimed by the AVA, it was still unprofessional to put her down DESPITE repeated requests by us to re-home the dog.
- This is not merely an issue with the customer service staff not verifying with the manager. The manager herself did not relay a message that was consistent to AVA's recent statement. In addition, she was curt and lacked compassion.
4. “With respect to the calls made by Ms Lim and her family to our Centre for Animal Welfare & Control hotline, the call centre officers who took the calls did not inform or check with the manager on the status of the dog. This resulted in them providing the wrong information that the dog was still at the pound.”
- This clearly, reiterates my point of the AVA's lack of a proper procedure, management and transparency.
- Now that it's been acknowledged, what are AVA's next steps? What is their call to action? Will there be a follow up with the dog's owner?
- Even with a flawed system, a simple call to inform us of the situation could have saved a life.
5. “We sincerely apologise for the service lapse. We have counselled our call centre officers and reminded them on the importance of providing accurate information.”
- This is not merely a matter that is isolated in AVA's call centre. Look at the above stated (our point in section 3); there was blatant disregard for our efforts to assist in re-homing this dog and our appeal to keep her alive.
6. Additional points that we'd like to add:
- After hearing that she (the dog) had been put down, we approached SPCA, who advised that we send an email to AVA on the matter, with SPCA copied in it. This email was sent on the afternoon of 18 Mar. It has been three days since, and we've yet to receive a reply or call from them.
- Following our Facebook post of AVA's Facebook page on Mar 19, there were two posts by them, one of which was on responsible pet ownership. This brings to light that they chose to neglect our posts until it received significant response from the public.
- As mentioned in the previous post, there are laws against cruelty to animals, which includes abandonment – Will this be investigated?
AVA has made a template response with regards to this incident.
What do you think? Is this acceptable? We urge everyone to share this post among your online community to pressure the government into investigating this matter.