Post Details How Life In The Puppy Mill Has Scarred Her Dog

If there’s one thing that will turn some Singaporeans away from buying dogs bred in puppy mills instead of adopting them, it might be the opening of this heartfelt Facebook post:

The house is clean. There are no pee stained newspapers, no wet paw prints on the floor, no food scraps by the bowl. And my heart is breaking.

Posted by Ms Li-Anne Sia last Friday (Apr 20), the post details how her 8-year-old dog had to undergo traumatic surgery to cure a hernia.

She writes,

My Po lies in a cage in the pet hospital scared and in pain after a major operation to fix a herniation so extensive that even the vet was shocked.

A hernia occurs when part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it.

One is bad enough. But Po – short for Potato – suffered a hernia in four different parts of her body.

Po in happier times

Ms Sia believes that her dog’s multiple pregnancies weakened her muscle tone, making Po more susceptible to hernias.

You can read her post in full here. We summarise it after the jump.

Yes, puppy mills exist in Singapore

Ms Sia hopes that her post will raise awareness of a darker side of Singapore’s pet industry.

You see, Po didn’t grow up in a warm home like some dogs do.

Instead, she spent her early years in a puppy mill, where she was forcibly impregnated over and over again to raise puppies for sale.

As Ms Sia puts it,

How could people use (Po) as if she was a machine, making her bear litter after litter of puppies?

How could they callously cut her up time and again to extract those puppies in short order so as to make a quick buck?

How could they chuck her battered, bleeding body aside, amidst filth and neglect, expecting her to heal herself only to repeat the horrifying cycle again when she’s hardly recovered?

In 2010, a CNN report highlighted the shocking conditions that dogs like Po face in puppy mills.

Crammed into tiny squalid cages, their coats filthy and the floors filled with their faeces, these dogs are not given basic veterinary care or taken out for walks.

Female dogs are made to breed repetitively (a female dog should only breed once a year) till her fertility wanes, after which one of her daughters will then take her place.

It isn’t clear how Po made it out of the mill but she was eventually picked up by a shelter.

After some rehabilitation, Po was displayed at an adoption drive, where Ms Sia first laid eyes on her.


Love at first sight

Ms Sia recalls,

She was curled up quietly in a corner, staring forlornly out of the cage. There was no fur around her eyes, which added to her disconsolate demeanour. Volunteers told us she just underwent an operation to remove a hernia and she had fresh stitches to show for it.

She elaborated that she didn’t worry about the possible “hefty bills over her medical care” and decided to take Po home, writing,

I remember looking into those huge, pitiful, pleading eyes and feeling my heart break. I just wanted to take on her previous baggage no matter the cost or difficulty.

And Ms Sia has done just that: hernia surgeries at vets here cost anywhere between $900 and $2,500.

That figure excludes medication and hospitalisation costs, which can easily run into the thousands of dollars.

But kudos to Ms Sia and her family for forging ahead with the treatment and giving Po a better life after years of abuse.

Not vilifying dogs from pet shops

Ms Sia clarifies that she does not want her post to vilify dogs who have been bred — or the people who buy them.

It does not and will not help anyone if I judge those who have bought a pup from the pet shop or a home breeder.

You didn’t know better then. Cos if you did, I’m sure you would steer clear of these places like the plague.

Instead, she hopes that it will raise awareness of the plight of breeding dogs in puppy mills here.

When the buying stops, the breeding can too

According to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, there were more than 60,000 dogs kept as pets in 2016.

The agency does not differentiate between dogs that are bought from stores and those adopted from shelters, making it difficult to ascertain just how big the puppy mill industry here is.

But judging by the list of most popular dog breeds in Singapore, it’s safe to say that it’s an industry that’s well and alive.

Popular breeds here include toy poodles, golden retrievers and Jack Russell terriers.

It’s unlikely that these breeds make up Singapore’s 7,000-strong stray dog population.

A Singapore Special

Instead, most of our stray dog population comprises Singapore Specials, an affectionate term for local mongrels.

Ms Sia hopes that potential dog owners will work with animal welfare groups to adopt these dogs instead of supporting the puppy mill industry, which she calls a “ruthless machine”.

If you truly want to make changes in animal welfare, take a stand with me and rally against irresponsible breeding practices.


We’re with you, Ms Sia. We’re with you.

Po’s improving

Thankfully, Po is on the mend. In an update on Sunday (Apr 22), Ms Sia shared that Po had been discharged and was recovering at home.


Despite the good news, Ms Sia believes that Po will never be the same again.

She writes,

We will always have to curb her enthusiasm lest her delicate internal sutures rupture again.

My beautiful Po whose little heart is so filled with love – despite what human beings have done to her – will just have to show all her enthusiasm in our arms.

We’re not crying, you are.

You can track Potato’s progress on Instagram at @potato_the_doggie.

Featured image from Facebook