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AVS probes alleged attack by large pet dog on small pooch during walk

The Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) is probing an alleged attack on a 3kg pooch by a larger dog at least 10 times its weight during an evening walk.

The maltipoo – a cross between a maltese and toy poodle – suffered injuries that required surgery and intensive care in a veterinary hospital. Some $20,000 in treatment costs have been incurred so far, said owner Jennifer Fan.

She said her maltipoo, named Milo, was attacked by an Alaskan malamute during a walk with her helper on Sept 19 in Namly Avenue between 7pm and 7.30pm.

Neighbours alerted Ms Fan, 50, a fund manager, who lived nearby.

She said the malamute’s owner had signalled for her helper to walk past them and that the helper hesitated at first, given the size of the other dog.

When the helper decided to continue walking, the malamute lunged towards the maltipoo, a three-year-old male, when they got closer.

“My helper collapsed in trauma and neighbours called an ambulance for her. My maltipoo was in ICU at the vet hospital for more than a week,” said Ms Fan.

“His left kidney was severed and he needed two operations before his discharge after 11 days of high dependency care.”

The malamute’s handler accompanied Ms Fan and Milo to the veterinary hospital, remaining there till about 2am.

Milo is now recovering well, said Ms Fan.

The malamute, a heavy dog known for its strength, is the state dog of Alaska in the United States.

Ms Fan said AVS officers interviewed her helper on Oct 27.

AVS group director Jessica Kwok said: “The AVS, a cluster of the National Parks Board, takes all feedback received from the public on animal health and welfare seriously. We received feedback regarding an alleged case of a dog attack... and we are looking into the matter.”

The incident comes in the wake of the first reported court case in September of a handler of two dogs being held liable for their attack on a Japanese spitz that had been taken out for a walk.

A separate court hearing will be held to assess the damages to be paid for the injuries caused to the spitz and its handler.

Clifford Law partner Viviene Sandhu expects to see more cases as more people own pets, but said almost all are likely to be settled out of court.

“Generally, big dogs are kept by people who can afford them as they cost quite a lot to feed and maintain. If anything happens, they can afford to pay. My clients have been a lawyer, a doctor and a CEO,” she said.

Action for Singapore Dogs founder and president Ricky Yeo said the rise in such cases has been owing “to the huge increase in the number of dogs due to the Covid-19 situation”.

“Everyone was working from home, there were travel restrictions and so people spent their money on getting a pet dog,” he added.

On steps to avoid attack incidents, he said: “Usually, we encourage owners to undergo a training programme as it helps them learn how to handle their dogs, what the necessary protocols are, and also to help the dog to be calm and manageable at all times.

“There are actually protocols that are supposed to be in place, and these are taught during my training programmes.”

ANIMAL WELFARECOURT & CRIMEanimals