Woman fined for abandoning 4 cats over fears that they would spread Covid-19 to her family

SINGAPORE – Fearing that her four cats would spread Covid-19 to her family, a 45-year-old woman decided to abandon them at the letterbox area of her housing block in Marsiling Drive.

Zariyah, who goes by one name, was fined $4,000 on Wednesday (Jan 6) and disqualified from owning any pet animals for six months, after she was found guilty of intentionally abandoning animals under the Animals and Birds Act.

The court heard that at about 9pm on March 28 last year, a member of the public was at the void deck of Block 31 Marsiling Drive when he saw Zariyah releasing four cats from a cage at the letterbox area.

A complaint was made to the National Parks Board.

Over the course of investigations, Zariyah admitted to keeping the four cats in her home for some time before March 28. Court documents did not state how long she had kept the cats in her home.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she decided to abandon them, as she thought her family may get infected with the coronavirus through the cats.

She took the cats downstairs and released them.

As the cats were meowing loudly, the member of the public asked Zariyah why she was releasing them. She said she was not able to take care of the cats, and returned home without them.

Two of the cats were adopted by passers-by while the other two were rescued by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Those found guilty of abandoning an animal without a reasonable excuse can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

World Health Organisation epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told a news conference in April last year that pets are not believed to be playing a role in the transmission of Covid-19, but they may be able to catch the virus from an infected person.

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