Man jailed for trying to push 6 puppies and a bird under a car seat, causing them “unnecessary suffering”

SINGAPORE: A man was sentenced to six months in prison on Wednesday (June 23) for attempting to smuggle six puppies and a songbird into Singapore under the seat of a car. Five of the animals later died.

Singaporean Somasundram Pathumalai, 36, was driving the car containing the animals when he was arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint around 3 a.m. on March 14 last year.

When Immigration and Checkpoint (ICA) officials checked the car, they found six sedated puppies and a white-rumped shama bird, which was trapped in a tube closed with zip ties. cable and a stick.

The animals were hidden in the compartment under the third row passenger seat, in a space that measured 77 cm in length, 31 cm in width and 12 cm in height.

The cramped space and lack of ventilation put the animals’ lives in danger, court documents said.

“Overall, the conditions of transport of the puppies and the bird were deemed unsuitable and which would have caused unnecessary suffering to the animals,” said the prosecution.

According to the National Parks Board (NParks), trade in the white-rumped shama, a popular songbird, is regulated.

The bird died more than a month after being seized by authorities and quarantined for observation.

The third row passenger seat where six puppies and a bird were hidden. (Photo: NParks)

Four of the puppies – a mix of Great Danes and German Shepherds – died between 11 and 16 days after the smuggling attempt.

“Puppies that die soon after being smuggled indicate that they could not tolerate the conditions of transport,” court documents said.


Investigations showed that another Singaporean had offered Somasundram S $ 500 to smuggle the animals.

The man’s brother-in-law is also accused of being involved, having allegedly ordered Somasundram to travel to Malaysia to collect the animals.

When he was stopped by ICA officers at Woodlands Checkpoint, Somasundram admitted the animals were his. Checks revealed that he did not have a valid license to import them from Malaysia.

The animals were seized and the matter was referred to NParks for investigation.

The cases involving the two co-accused are pending.

White-rumped shama bird file photo

A white-rumped shama seen in Dehing Patkai Wildlife Reserve, Assam, India. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In a media statement, NParks reminded all travelers that importing all animals into Singapore requires agency approval.

The contraband animals come from unknown sources, have an unknown health status and can introduce exotic diseases into the country. Their well-being will also be affected by poor conditions during the smuggling process, NParks said.

Illegal wildlife trade also has an impact on biodiversity and ecosystems in countries of origin and destination, he added.

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“For example, the trade in the popular white-rumped shama songbird is regulated. With proper legal source records and other import and sale information, its wild population is unaffected, ”NParks said.

“However, when the White-rumped Shama is poached from the wild for the illegal trade, its wild population will be increasingly threatened across the region.”

First-time offenders caught importing an animal or bird without a permit could be fined up to S $ 10,000, jail time of up to 12 months, or both. The penalty is the same for those convicted of importing live wildlife without approval under the Wildlife Act.

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