Animal group sues dog owner over alleged euthanising of pet in ‘outrageous’ breach of adoption deal
SINGAPORE — An animal welfare group has sued a dog owner for allegedly having the dog euthanised, in what the group called an “outrageous” breach of the adoption agreement that required the owner to consult them before taking any such action.
The lawsuit was filed by Exclusively Mongrels on May 18 against the owner of a two-and-a-half-year-old male dog named Loki. The word "mongrels" refers to a mixed breed of animal.
Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng, who founded rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), raised the case in a Facebook post earlier this month as he made a call for the euthanasia of animals to be more tightly regulated.
Exclusively Mongrels — represented by Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and Mr Chooi Jing Yen — is seeking compensatory damages arising from the group’s alleged loss of reputation, as well as aggravated and exemplary damages.
This form of damages is granted if and when a defendant’s conduct is deemed by the judge to be so bad, that a larger-than-usual sum of damages is awarded to the plaintiff.
The man — whose name was removed from court documents before they were publicly released — allegedly did not tell Exclusively Mongrels that he had changed his address and “made a unilateral decision” to have Loki killed.
TODAY was unable to reach the man who is the defendant in the lawsuit, or his wife, to seek their comments on the matter.
Mr Chooi told TODAY that the writ of summons and statement of claim were served on the defendant on Wednesday (May 27) evening. He has 22 days from then to file his defence. This is one of the steps that may lead to a civil trial if the case is not settled out of court.
The matter sparked a furore online after a staff member at Exclusively Mongrels posted about the case of Loki on Facebook on May 6.
The post has since been taken down after the couple reported the staff member to the police for alleged doxxing — that is, publishing private information about someone on the internet. The post also included allegations about the animal’s behaviour.
TODAY has sought comment from the police on the allegation over doxxing.
The alleged euthanasia is also now under investigation by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), which is a unit of the National Parks Board (NParks).
The case prompted comments by Mr Ng, an MP for Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency, who called for new regulations to prevent healthy but aggressive pets from being euthanised before options to find a new home or re-train the pets are explored.
Separately, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam took to Facebook to advise Singaporeans to refrain from drawing conclusions on the matter before the investigations by AVS are completed.
Exclusively Mongrels, which rescues, rehabilitates and gives new homes to stray dogs, had provided temporary accommodation for Loki after the dog came into the custody of the former Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore. That body’s responsibilities have since been assumed by NParks.
The couple adopted Loki in December 2017 when it was about six months old.
Court documents stated that the defendant had pledged to take “full responsibility to commit to my dog Loki for the rest of its life” and agreed not to absolve his responsibility for the animal by abandoning or euthanising it.
Exclusively Mongrels also alleged that the adopter failed to contact the group to help Loki find another home, and instead took the animal to be killed at the Changi branch of Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre.
The group learnt of the death through a third party, court documents stated.
The statement of claim read: “The defendant’s cavalier attitude towards the performance of his obligations under the adoption agreement has deprived Loki of a potentially healthy and happy life.
“An award of exemplary damages will serve as a deterrence and a warning to the defendant and other adopters. In particular, that adopting or caring for a pet is a lifelong responsibility that should not be taken lightly or shirked easily.”
The statement of claim also stated: “The outrageous nature of the defendant’s breach of the adoption agreement had also resulted in the death of Loki — the worst possible scenario contemplated by most, if not all, adoption agreements.”
Exclusively Mongrels added that the adopter’s actions tarnished its reputation as an organisation that was “able to secure such safe and conducive homes for rescued dogs”.