Rescued dog reunites with owner who was falsely accused of abusing and abandoning it

Fatimah Zainal
The Star / Asia News Network via AsiaOne
Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

There was not a dry eye in the room as a businesswoman was finally reunited with her beloved dog Dutchess, over two years after an animal abuse case came between them.

Millicent Ann Paul, 37, burst into tears as she held the Rottweiler, which could not contain its excitement and showered affection on its owner.

"I feel so happy and relieved to get to bring her home today. I look forward to a peaceful life and moving on with Dutchess after this," she said when met at the Petaling district Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) yesterday.

Dutchess had been under DVS care since 2014 after the department accused Paul of abusing the animal.

Paul, a former pet shop owner, was charged after an animal action group took Dutchess, who is now over three years old, from her home in Kota Kemuning sometime between March and April 2014.

"I was defamed, my photos and information were put on Facebook by the group and people sent me hate messages daily. I was even robbed.

"Less than a year after Dutchess was taken from me, my business folded and I faced depression," said Paul, wiping away her tears.

She briefly moved to Australia for a year in 2015 to escape the backlash, but continued to fight for Dutchess.

Last August, she was acquitted of the charge when a magistrate's court ruled that the DVS had failed to establish a case.

It was reported that Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue (Miar) had taken Dutchess following a complaint from the neighbourhood security that the animal was left in a vacant property.

"They accused me of leaving my dog alone and going out of town, but I was around. I was devastated and angry that they could just trespass into my home and take my dog away," said Paul, who now lives with her mother.

A vet confirmed that when it was found, the then 10-month-old Dutchess was underweight and suffering from tick fever and mange.

However, Paul's lawyer, V. Velvashini, said two other vets later confirmed to the court that the dog did not need to have been abused for it to contract the illnesses.

"The (mange) disease was a recurring one and my client had been treating the dog for the illness since Dec 2013.

"It was also found to be malnourished and thin because of tick fever, not due to abuse," said Velvashini.

This is the first time that DVS lost an animal abuse case. It lodged an appeal to the High Court, but this was dismissed last month.

A DVS official, who declined to be named, said the evidence against Paul had not been "strong enough", adding that there were many technicalities surrounding the way that Dutchess was taken away from the owner.

He also admitted that Miar had no authority to enter Paul's home and take the dog.