S’porean man, 36, jailed 6 months for smuggling 6 puppies & a songbird under car seat

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A 36-year-old Singaporean, Somasundram Pathumalai, who attempted to smuggle six puppies and one songbird into Singapore from Malaysia has been sentenced to jail on June 23.

According to CNA, he was sentenced to six months’ jail.

Unnecessary suffering

According to court documents seen by Mothership, Somasundram was stopped by immigration officers at Woodlands Checkpoint on Mar. 14, 2020, at around 3:05am.

He was given S$500 by 33-year-old Subramaniam Ellan to smuggle the animals. Subramaniam allegedly planned the smuggling operation with his brother-in-law, 31-year-old Jeevan Arjoon.

Six sedated puppies – two German Shepherd and four Great Danes –  and one White-Rumped Shama bird were found alive in his car during the inspection.

The animals were kept in a compartment of about 77cm long, 31cm wide, and 12cm tall, underneath the third row passenger seat.

The size of each puppy was between 28cm and 36cm in length, about 10cm in width, and between 19cm and 24cm in height.

Passenger seat. Image from National Parks Board and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.

Where the animals were hidden. Image from National Parks Board and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.

The size of the songbird was 29.2cm from head to tip, and 5.5cm width. The bird was kept in a hollow plastic pipe that was about 12cm long and 4cm wide. Cable ties and a stick were used to trap the bird in the pipe.

In addition, the compartment was enclosed on all sides and that means having poor ventilation for the animals’ body heat to dissipate while being transported.

As the puppies were deeply sedated, they were unable to adjust their positions to make themselves more comfortable in the cramped space, the court documents stated. There was also a chance of them choking on their saliva or their tongues.

All of these conditions had caused “unnecessary suffering”, NParks prosecutor said. 

All six puppies and the songbird were subsequently seized by the authorities and were quarantined for observation.

Five animals died soon after

Unfortunately, five out of seven animals seized died during quarantine.

Within two weeks after being found by the authorities, three Great Dane puppies and one German Shepherd puppy died during quarantine.

The White-Rumped Shama bird also died on April 23, 2020.

The four puppies were found to have a sudden intestinal infection. All five animals were found to be dehydrated.

The fact that the puppies died so soon after being smuggled suggests that they could not tolerate the poor conditions of transportation, the court documents stated.

Six months’ jail

Somasundram pleaded guilty to two charges; one for importing the animals without valid licence and one for failure in duty of care, causing them unnecessary suffering.

10 other similar charges were taken into consideration for his sentencing and he has been sentenced to six months’ jail, Yahoo reported.

Cases involved the two other men are pending before the courts.

Do not purchase pets from unknown sources

In a statement to Mothership, the National Parks Board (NParks) advises interested pet owners to purchase pets from licensed pet shops. The agency also advised against any pet purchases from unknown sources such as online platforms, as the animals could be smuggled, carrying diseases or have been subjected to poor treatments.

All animals imported to Singapore have to be approved by NParks. This is to prevent the introduction of exotic diseases to Singapore and illegal wildlife trade as well as to safeguard the health and welfare of animals.

First-time offenders found guilty of importing any animal or bird without a licence or without the Director-General’s approval could be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to 12 months, or both under the Animals and Birds Act and Wildlife Act respectively.

Top image from Wannes De Mol/Unsplash, NParks and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority