Dog trainer fined S$8,000 after leaving 2 bulldogs in car trunk, causing them to die of heat stress

On Wednesday, District Judge Carol Ling noted that Sim was a first-time offender and there was no evidence of recklessness or risk-taking on her part.

His behavior after the incident, including taking the dogs to a veterinarian and compensating the dogs’ owner with an undisclosed sum of money, also clearly demonstrated his remorse and contrition, the judge added.

While considering whether to bar him from running an animal-related business, District Judge Ling noted Mr. Tan’s previous mitigation submission in which he said “oversight is human error.”

The judge did not disagree with this, but said that “acts of forgetting, while attributable to the fallible nature of human beings and regrettable, sometimes lead to disastrous consequences.”

“The fact is, results matter. The extent of the harm caused by his actions is a relevant and important factor in sentencing,” she added.

The judge also agreed with the prosecution that as a professional dog trainer, the duty of care expected of Sim was higher than that expected of someone who is not.

Imposing a disqualification order would send an effective signal to other industry players about the standards they must meet, District Judge Ling added.

Sim, who has worked as a dog trainer since around 2014, was hired by the owner of the bulldogs to train them when they were imported from Australia.

The arrangement involved boarding and training services where the two dogs would stay with Sim for the entire training period.

However, after returning home at 2.30pm and finding herself in the open parking lot, she was distracted by a social media post about a former client’s dog being bitten by another dog.

She then got out of the car and locked it, forgetting to take the two bulldogs with her.

About an hour and a half later, Sim realized she had left the dogs in the vehicle and immediately ran from her home to find them unresponsive.

It took another 30 minutes to reach a veterinary clinic and by then both animals were already dead.

A post-mortem examination of one of the dogs’ tissue samples revealed that it was in a stressed state before its death. Medical findings supported the diagnosis of heat stress as the cause of death.

Sim could have been jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$40,000, or both.

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