Platinium Dogs Club saga: Heartbreak after more than 150 search for 'missing' dog
AVA's confirmation of death ends hunt by 150 volunteers who thought it escaped from Platinium Dogs Club
After a pet owner reported her dog had gone missing while under the care of Platinium Dogs Club, more than 150 people searched for it for more than a week.
In desperation, some sought the help of a "psychic", but the Shetland sheepdog named Prince remained missing.
Yesterday, they found out that Prince had been cremated, probably even before it was reported missing.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) revealed yesterday that preliminary investigations showed the dog had died while boarded at Platinium and was handed to a pet cremation service provider.
The AVA, which is investigating the pet facility after complaints of ill-treatment of animals under its care, raided its Bukit Panjang premises on Dec 29 and took 18 dogs and a rabbit into temporary custody .
Prince was not among them.
Its owner, Ms Elaine Mao, said the facility's operator, whom she named as Ms Charlotte Liew, told her on Dec 30 that Prince had run away during the AVA raid.
Ms Mao then went on Facebook to offer a $2,000 reward to anyone who found Prince.
The Facebook group chat had over 150 volunteers, with 30 to 40 searchers who went out multiple times.
Among them was Mr Roderick Low, who started a petition on change.org to call for harsher penalties against animal cruelty. The petition has since received almost 63,000 signatures.
The digital marketer told The New Paper yesterday that the searches occurred day and night for more than a week, with volunteers taking shifts to comb the areas Prince could have wandered to.
He said the group even hired an animal communicator, a psychic of sorts, hoping to make a breakthrough in their search.
"When we heard of Prince's death, it upset a lot of us. A lot of people felt the pain of Ms Mao's loss."
Ms Mao, who paid $945 to board Prince in Platinium on Dec 16 before she went overseas, posted on Facebook yesterday that news of its death was "totally unbearable" and that "a part of me has gone with him".
Ms Mao's friend who contacted a pet cremation service while she was overseas said it confirmed taking three dead dogs from Platinium last month.
But it was unsure if Prince was one of them.
When Ms Mao and other dog lovers went to confront Ms Liew at Platinium on Jan 2, one of them, a 42-year-old man, was allegedly hit by a car leaving the premises.
The male driver, 33, was arrested, as were the protesters, who are believed to be under investigation for illegal assembly .
AVA arrested the 30-year-old owner of Platinium, believed to be Ms Liew, on Sunday.
The authority told TNP that she is out on bail but will be required to assist with its investigation on animal welfare-related offences.
AVA also called on the public not to speculate and let the investigation take its course.
It added that 17 of the 18 rescued dogs had been reunited with their owners.
The owner of the remaining dog is overseas and the rabbit's owner is yet to be identified.
Under the Animals and Birds Act, convicted offenders who fail in their duty of care towards animals while conducting an animal-related business can be fined up to $40,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.
The hunt for Prince and Mr Low's petition inspired a 10-year-old girl, Ng Xin Hui, to start her own petition by drawing a poster at Poi Ching Primary School, which she attends.
The shy pupil also gave a short talk on why she is calling for tougher penalties against animal abuse to her schoolmates during assembly.
About 40 of them signed her petition.
She told TNP: "These animals are innocent and they cannot tell us what happened to them. I hope that the petition will help prevent people from being cruel to animals in future."