Justice for Sophie, Solomon and Jasper
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On September 9, 2017, while my Siberian Huskies Sophie, Solomon and Jasper were walking together on a leash through a narrow public pathway behind their home, a free roaming uncollared cat hidden in the bushes darted out, attacked Sophie and injured her nose. Reflexively, Sophie caught the cat in her mouth. Seeing the attack on Sophie, her brothers Solomon and Jasper also held on to the cat with their mouths. The Huskies freed the cat on the instruction of their handler, who released the cat when she did not see any injuries on it.
While trying to keep the cat away from the Huskies, the handler also suffered a 25cm long deep scratch on her leg inflicted by the cat. Most unfortunately, the cat passed away later in the day.
In October 2017, the Singapore Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) informed me that, acting on a complaint, they had to test each of the dogs for aggression. We believe the Huskies passed the aggression test, especially since they are neutered and spayed. AVA has refused to confirm or deny the fact. They have also refused to confirm the cat's cause of death.
Despite the fact that the Huskies are 6 years old and have never had any incidences of this nature in their history, AVA now proposes to impose a restriction against the Huskies, prohibiting them from being walked together in public places.
In addition, AVA has informed me that it will not provide me any information in relation to the complaint - presumably to prevent me from mounting a defense or rebutting false or incomplete evidence given. Notwithstanding this position, AVA also requires me to pay a fine for not having the Huskies securely “under the control of the handler”. When queried by me as to the reasonableness and fairness of expecting me to defend against an unknown complaint by an unknown person with unknown supporting evidence, AVA informed me that their position is that the Huskies and handler must per se be at fault when the cat dies, so there is no need for me to know more. I believe AVA's position is not only logically untenable but patently wrong.
Mr Anthony Ong, a professional dog trainer with K9 World in Singapore, with more than 40 years of experience training dogs in the Singapore Police Force and now privately, who is familiar with the Huskies, has opined that:-
“even with leash and collar, it can never be guaranteed that a darting animal (in this case a cat) which startled the dog will not result in the dog catching the animal out of sheer defence and natural reflexes.”
I believe that AVA's requirement that the Huskies not be allowed in public areas together for the rest of their lives is an unreasonable penalty for an accident that could have happened to anyone. It is unjust that the Huskies' quality of life should be severely diminished over an accident that could have occurred no matter how responsibly leashed and controlled they were. AVA also does not seem to understand the importance of the pack walk to the behavioral balance of dogs.
By withholding critical information from me, presumably to render me unable to defend myself and my Huskies, AVA has also chosen not to avail itself of the mountain of evidence that shows the Huskies are beloved by the residents in the neighbourhood and that the free-roaming cat had a history of unprovoked aggression. Instead, AVA expects me to accept these restrictions on the quality of life of my Huskies lightly because, in their words, my fine could be much greater if I don't. AVA fails to understand that these strong arm tactics will not work on true dog lovers, as our dogs' quality of life is priceless and worth fighting for, especially when my Huskies were the ones attacked. They, and their handler, did no wrong.
Please sign our Petition to let the Ministry of National Development and AVA know that we:-
1. where we are personally familiar with the Huskies,
(a) have never observed the Huskies to be aggressive towards humans and other animals in the neighborhood.
(b) have never witnessed the Huskies not being securely leashed or under the control of their owner or her helper.
(c) have no objections whatsoever against the owner of the Huskies walking the Huskies together in public areas.
(d) have never felt that our personal safety or that of our pets or children have been in danger due to the Huskies being walked together.
2. do not agree with the unfairness of AVA’s investigation and determination process. Written details of any complaint and the evidence gathered to support such complaint must be provided to the complainee to give the complainee a fair chance to respond.
3. believe the incident could have happened to any of us that day, even if our dogs are securely leashed and under control. The incident was an unavoidable accident as the Huskies were acting reflexively to the attack by the cat.
4. given that the incident was an unavoidable accident, believe that there is nothing to be achieved by taking any action in respect of the incident and would request AVA to dispense with such action. Curtailing these docile Huskies' quality of life over a misadventure is not only unjustified but inhumane.
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