The euthanising of a puppy in Singapore this month has sparked an online furore, with the country's dog-loving law minister weighing in on the issue on Wednesday.
Animal rights activists say the case highlights a growing frustration among Singaporeans with affluent pet owners who abandon their furry companions after their initial enthusiasm wanes. The seven-month-old mongrel puppy, named Tammy, was put down on October 7 after its expatriate owner Alison McElwee said the dog had become aggressive and bit her young children.
But a local woman, Ada Ong, who rescued the dog from the streets and gave it to the expatriate, complained in a Facebook note that McElwee was obliged under an adoption agreement to return the dog to her if she could not care for it.
McElwee had the dog put down at a veterinary clinic without informing Ong, drawing fierce online criticism against the expatriate and coverage of the dispute in national newspapers.
In a statement published in the local media, McElwee refuted Ong's version of events and said she had the dog euthanised so that it would not suffer from a poor quality of life in a boarding home.
Law minister K Shanmugam, who owns three dogs, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday he had spoken with Ong and reviewed the adoption agreement.
"I have given Ada my views on the contract, and have suggested to her that she should get a lawyer to pursue this matter," said Shanmugam, a former top litigator who is also Singapore's foreign minister.
"I have suggested a lawyer to her who will help her pro bono." Louis Ng, the executive director of the Animal Concerns and Research Education Society (ACRES) in Singapore, said the case was symptomatic of an increasing trend of pet abandonment in Singapore.
"It is unethical to put down a healthy dog," he told AFP.
"We are seeing a trend where, because of rising affluence in Singapore, people are buying or adopting pets without due consideration about the lifetime commitment it involves."