A lorry driver has been sentenced to a year in jail for smuggling a total of 26 dogs and a cat into Singapore last October.
The accused, 36-year-old Malaysian man, Gobysuwaran Paraman Sivan, pleaded guilty to 20 charges framed under the Animals and Birds Act yesterday (Apr 24).
The Straits Times reported that out of all the 27 animals, 19 of them tragically died, making it one of “the most shocking case of live animal smuggling”, according to Singaporean agency National Parks Boards (NParks).
Paid RM250 per smuggled animal
According to the English daily, Gobysuwaran worked as a lorry driver who transported construction materials from Malaysia to Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint.
On October 18, 2022, he collected the 26 dogs and a cat which were placed inside two blue covered containers, a blue container with the opening secured with cling wrap, and seven nylon bags at around 5am from a man named ‘Dido’, who allegedly paid him RM250 per animal.
When Gobysuwaran reached the Tuas Checkpoint at 7.45am, he was subjected to a routine check by an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer.
Unfortunately, one of the puppies escaped from the container and caught the officer’s attention, forcing Gobysuwaran to admit that there were more animals inside the lorry.
Dogs died from contagious virus
Upon further inspection, officers found 26 dogs and a cat still alive inside the car. Sadly, an adult French bulldog was found dead due to a lack of ventilation as it was kept inside a nylon bag.
Furthermore, 18 more dogs later passed away thanks to the deadly contagious virus canine parvovirus, leaving only seven dogs and the cat as the remaining survivors.
During the hearing, Gobysuwaran’s lawyer pleaded for mercy and argued that his client was genuinely remorseful, adding that he came from a low-income background and had to provide for his elderly mother’s care and medical expenses.
However, District Judge Lorraine Ho disagreed, saying that Gobysuwaran had “committed the act of confining or conveying the animals in a manner that subjected them to unnecessary suffering for a financial gain.”
NParks later released its own statement over the matter, saying that it and the ICA had detected 19 cases of pet animal or wildlife smuggling at Singapore’s borders between October 2022 and March 2023.
When the buying of illegally imported animals stops, the smuggling will cease. NParks strongly encourages prospective pet owners to adopt their pets from animal welfare groups or purchase them from licensed pet shops,” it said.
Under Singaporean law, first-time offenders caught importing animals without a license may face fines up to $10,000 (RM33,313.23), an imprisonment for up to a year, or both.