Adopt-a-pet scam riles animal lovers

SINGAPORE - A 13-year-old secondary school student has caused a furore among animal activists for adopting pedigree dogs and then selling them for pocket money.

He pretended to be a grieving dog owner and approached pet owners online to let him adopt their pedigree toy dogs.

The boy would tell them that their dogs reminded him of his dog which had just died.

He would then sell the dogs online for a tidy profit.

Found out

The student's scam was found out after a pet owner who had given her dog to him called him to ask how her dog was doing.

He told the owner, a 39-year-old administrator named L.S. Zhang, that the dog had run away.

Doubting the story, she called the police and lodged a report.

A police spokesperson confirmed that a report had been lodged and that investigations are ongoing. The boy cannot be named as he is considered a minor under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Ms Zhang's Facebook post about her experience with him has gone viral. Animal activists and dog-lovers now want the authorities to take action.

Wanted to give up her dog

Ms Zhang had earlier posted on the Facebook pages of two animal shelters, Mutts & Mittens and Madam Wong's Shelter, to look for someone to adopt her three-year-old Maltese.

The 13-year-old secondary school student then contacted her and expressed his interest.

Ms Zhang gave him her dog on May 14. However, when she contacted him the next day, he said the dog had run away.

When she questioned him in front of the police, he denied there was ever a dog.

Dishonesty offences possibly committed

Lawyers contacted by The Straits Times said that certain "dishonesty offences" could have been committed.

The offences would depend on how the boy represented himself to the dog owners.

According to The Straits Times, animal activists from a non-profit organisation called Zeus Communications have started action against the boy.

They tried to rescue some of the dogs which were being advertised by the boy, but one of them, a pregnant Maltese, had already been sold.

The group managed to rescue a Yorkshire terrier named Elmo by buying it from the boy at $300.

Online checks showed about 20 advertisements posted by the boy, dealing with breeds like Jack Russell, Yorkshire terriers, Japanese Spitzes, Chihuahuas and Malteses.

When interviewed by The Straits Times, the student denied any wrongdoing and said the dog became his to be sold once it was given to him.