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Local pet boarding and daycare service draws intense flak after dog drowns in their care

The Independent logo The Independent 23/4/2019 Jewel Stolarchuk
a group of people on a boat in the water © Board n Play FB

A local pet boarding and daycare service, Board n’ Play, has received intense flak online after a netizen revealed that a dog in their care drowned at Tanjong Beach.

Last Wednesday (17 Apr), Facebook user Naida Ginnane wrote on social media that she witnessed the incident and that Board n’ Play’s staff had no idea what to do when the dog drowned. She wrote:

“Dog drowned at Tanjong Beach. Beware of ‘BOARD and PLAY’ dog sitters!!!! Very sad to report that I witnessed a little old maltese cross dog drown today while in the care of Board and Play staff. Every day I walk my dogs on the beach early in the morning. Recently I have noticed this group come to the beach more frequently with more and more dogs. “Today, while a ‘carer’ was dragging two frightened dogs into the water, another ‘carer’ had let the little maltese slip off the board. Instead of getting off the board to save the dog, they watched until he couldn’t swim any more and started to sink. He was pulled out unconscious, ‘carers’ had no idea what to do.”

Naida wrote that the Board n’ Play staff were so helpless that she and other witnesses had to step in and help.

“Myself and other bystanders had to offer assistance… the dog regained consciousness but had been out for at least 3 minutes. I insisted they take the dog to emergency immediately.  “I am praying the dog survived, and cannot imagine how devastated the dog owner would be… if you’re looking for doggy care DON’T USE Board and Play.”

Naida added that she has been observing the way Board n’ Play has been treating the dogs in their care and indicated that the animals are put under duress during their trips to the beach. She reported:

“Some dogs are allowed to roam unleashed as soon as they leave the van. They poop and it is rarely picked up. Dogs that remain leashed are dragged by their necks across the sand/ or tied up to trees on the beach. “Lately the group has been taking the dogs to the island opposite the beach. This is the frequent nesting place of a family of nine otters, 4 adults and 5 pups. Not any more! “Dogs who are reluctant swimmers are dragged by their necks under extreme stress into the water to swim to the island. Other small dogs are put on a SUP board and rowed to the island.”

Board n’ Play referred to Naida’s post on their own Facebook page and confirmed that the dog drowned and was taken to the vet. Lamenting that they have been enduring “daily verbal abuse” by passersby at the beach or parks they take the dogs to, the service asserted that not all of Naida’s claims are true.

Board n’ Play instead claimed that the dog, Garfield, was “found floating and he was not breathing (we think he drank seawater). One of our crew resuscitated him and he came back.

“We immediately brought him to the vet. Now he is in the hospital at Mount Gelenggang but he is in critical condition. We asked the vet to do their best.”

Urging netizens to avoid spreading “untrue content”, Board n’ Play challenged netizens “if you think we are abusers, u can report to authorities. Abusers don’t bring dogs to beach to play.”

Interestingly, Board n’ Play seems to have deleted this post from their Facebook page. A screenshot of the post is still circulating online:

Board n’ Play later seemed to have posted an update stating that Garfield had passed away in the hospital. This post is now missing from their Facebook page but one Facebook user appears to have managed to copy the post:

In a subsequent post, Board n’ Play urged netizens to read their liability waiver carefully before enrolling their pets in their services.

A quick look at Board n’ Play’s website shows that pet owners have to waive their rights to make any claims against the group if their pets suffer death, illness, injury or escape while in the group’s care. Their service contract states:

“Board n’ Play and its employees, volunteers, directors, partners, affiliates, and assigns, will exercise the utmost of due care to protect the health and safety of my dog(s) while using the services associated with the Board n’ Play (“Services”).  “In consideration of the Services and as an express condition thereof, I hereby waive and release, on behalf of myself, and my heirs, personal representatives and assigns, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any and all claims, including those relating to damage, illness, injury, death and/or escape, against Board n’ Play and their employees, volunteers, directors, partners, affiliates and assigns (collectively, the “Released Parties”) arising out of my dog(s)’s use of the Services. “I further agree to indemnify, defend, and hold Board n’ Play harmless against any claims by persons or entities other than myself related to my dog’s participation in the Services.”

The incident involving Garfield is, unfortunately, not the first time that a pet in the care of Board n’ Play has been injured. Facebook user Reborn Lim shared pictures of his ill pet dog and wrote:

“I personally have experienced similar incident from Board N Play as well. My golden retriever of 3.5yrs old had a very close brushed (sic) with death. He was in the hospital for 15 days and it cost us around S$20,000 to save him.

“Goldie was being picked up by the boarder at 7am which (sic) they brought him to the dog park, and was in the hospital by 12noon the same day. His body went into a state of shock and all the internal organs were shutting down.”

Asserting that Board n’ Play disregarded his specific instructions regarding Goldie’s care, Lim lamented: “They pushed all responsibility to us and there was not even a word of apology. They even accused Goldie of pre existing medical condition which (sic) medical report shows he does not have any.”

Another netizen who seemed to be familiar with Goldie wrote that she had to rush her Golden Retriever Terry to the hospital to donate blood to Goldie.

She added that she is shocked by the drowning of Garfield since this last serious accident occurred just over a month ago:

Revealing that Goldie will need a long time to recover if he can even completely recover, Reborn Lim wrote that he hopes pet owners will be more cautious with their dog’s care:

Netizens who dug further into Board n’ Play’s practices were also shocked to find that the group employs inexperienced tourists to care for the dogs, in exchange for food and accommodation.

Board n’ Play is a top host for tourists who are willing to work in exchange for food and accommodation on the website, Worldpackers.com. The group has an active advertisement on the website that states:

“Hello we are a family working in a dog daycare and boarding centre and looking for volunteers to play with dogs and look after them during the outings such as going to beach and dog run parks. “Volunteers will be staying in our house that has 5 bedrooms. It is a shared bedroom that come with aircon and strong wifi. U will have access to anywhere in the house and there is a food centre just 5 mins away if u would like to check out our local food. “All meals will be provided for our volunteers usually the spicy sour dishes with rice. We will also supply bus card to access our local buses or transportation to explore our city. If u are lazy to go out, we can watch netflix together. At times we have bbq parties. “What are our daily work like? – picking up and dropping off dogs. – bringing the dogs to the beach for swimming, looking after them and swimming with them. – Paddleboarding with the dogs and dropping them into the sea. – bringing the dogs to dog run parks and meet other dogs, running and playing with them, engaging them. – walking the pack of dogs. – showering and drying the dogs . – cleaning after their poo and pee in the house and picking up poo at the park or beach. – playing with dogs. – observing their socialisation with other dogs, making sure no fights and safety. – taking care of their meals “We urgently need volunteers who can help us out with the beach outings, dog run outings, home monitoring and pack walks as there are about 10-20 dogs. The working hours are 7am – 1pm. 5 days a week Monday to Thursday (compulsory) and an option of Friday or Saturday or Sunday. “If you are a dog lover and would love to help out spending time with dogs and love to explore Singapore without spending much, this is the place for u! – do note that we require your FULL commitment when looking after the dogs as some dogs are dominating or defensive and may injure other dogs or even people. “We will guide u along the way and usually Worldpackers will handle easy dogs. – do take note typically a tourist can stay not more than 30 days under SG custom law. – all European Union citizens can stay 90 days.”

Indeed, several dog carers featured in Board n’ Play’s Facebook photos do appear to be tourists. Netizens responding to the worldpackers listing, which shows that their dogs could be watched by inexperienced tourists, were shocked:

Dog drowned at Tanjong Beach. Beware of 'BOARD and PLAY' dog sitters!!!! Very sad to report that I witnessed a little…

Posted by Naida Ginnane on Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Dear pawrents, Please kindly read Board n' Play's Liability Waiver Contract before enrolling your dog(s) in our…

Posted by Board n' Play on Friday, 29 March 2019

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