I had played the video to show my primary school students a few days after the incident went on its rounds online. My purpose was to highlight to them the importance of treating animals with the respect they deserve. When the audio was played over my speakers, Sprite, my Jack Russell Terrier, actually barked repeatedly after hearing the yelps made by the victim in the video. Her reaction surprised all of us. Nevertheless, it speaks volumes of her awareness of the plight of her fellow canine. Instinctively, she knew that something was wrong with the cries. EVEN A DOG KNEW BETTER!
I truly wonder what went through the woman's mind when she hit her pet dog with a bunch of canes - the ones that some Asian parents who believe in corporal punishment may use to discipline their young children. She hit the dog NOT ONCE, but several times. Keep in mind that the idea of caning or even lifting your hand to hit a human child would cause public outrage in most Western countries where it is disallowed by law and considered a form of child abuse. This pet owner caned the poor thing because it had chewed up some precious pillow. COME ON! I do discipline Sprite when she misbehaves. If it is a repeated offence, I would smack her once at her bottom to send home the message. Yes, I am believer in corporal discipline too. But to cane a dog repeatedly for chewing up a pillow??? That is really too extremely.
Nonetheless, the video upset many local netizens. SPCA responded by appealing for information on the woman while the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) launched a nine-day investigation into the animal abuse allegations.
So who on earth filmed the woman in action? The cameraman apparently came forward and "admitted his involvement" in the video but AVA "declined to identify" him in the end. Word from the grapevine has it that the culprit is the accused's husband. I mean, what was he thinking? Who was he planning to show his short film to? Just what kind of a sick man would commit such an atrocity?
Do indulge me in the following scenarios :
1) Perhaps he is the sentimenal guy and therefore a member of the growing population of SNAGs - the Sensitive New Age Guys. Women love him because he is in touch with his feelings. Unlike the jerk of a jock who is an emotionless wreck, the SNAG actually scores with the ladies in modern times and he even helps out with domestic chores.
Moreover, he sweeps the wifey off her feet with the offer of a tissue when she tears over a weeper movie. Thereafter, he cries a bucket which in turn, is a big turn-on (read fore-play) for her. So our anonymous SNAG had filmed the video of his more garang feminist wife in action (afterall, she did wack him with her offensive weapon at the start of the clip) - of her beating the dog. Weeping all the way through, he just had to capture the sob sob scene which he thinks would make a fantastic weeper which he can watch with his beloved again and again years down the road, when both are officiated into the greying population, just to capture the Yesterday Once More.
2) He could be the poster husband for the emerging group of MBNBTYJP (Married But No Babies Thank You Just Pets) couples like those from the pressure cooker of modern Japan. Overwhelmed by the burgeoning demands at the ratrace, the MBNBTYJP guy returns home too tired to have dinner, let alone pick up the flirtatious signals from his desperate housewife to heed the calls of MMBD (Make More Babies Department) to rescue the plunging birth rate of Singapore. Over time, no amount of work can drown out the primal calls of the parental vacuum in his soul. Pets became the perfect solution.
Having finally found the missing piece of the puzzle in his life, the MBNBTYJP guy misses not a milestone in the existence of his precious canine - childbirth by a surrogate bitch, baptism by the (D)Hog Wash Religious Sect high priest, its first chow into a chocolate free birthday cake and now the teething rite of passage by pillow destruction. What he did not realise is, his pet-child has chewed up the very pillow which the desperate missus had spent months assembling to make up for the lack of attention from her ever busy MBNBTYJP guy. All else said, the good parent-bad parent ying-yang balance must be maintained at all cost to keep up the perfect-couple facade in failure intolerant Singapore! So she disciplines the child with the bunch of canes in the kitchen while he coos at the pet-child behind the lenses to capture yet another precious moment of the growing up years. Unwittingly, he uploads the video online to show off his beloved to other MBNBTYJP mates. He even adds subtitles to capture every nuances in the drama. After several torrential uploads and downloads, he ends up at the wrong side of the law.
3) Finally, he could be just the DAG (Dumb Ass Guy) who thinks that he is god's gift to womanhood and canine-kind. He makes a joke out of every nook and cranny in life.
He laughs at his attempt to heat up the wife's fondue in the microwave which ended up a nuclear aftermath. When customers were stealing iPad sets which had floated away from a shop in Lucky Plaza when the floods hit Orchard Road, he ROFTL - Rolled Onto The Floor Laughing. Upon hearing that some foreign construction workers had died after the open lorry they were travelling in crashed into the divider on the expressway, he called together his DAG buddies and laughed the night away over beer. Nothing in life seems to dampen his mood. In fact, even neighbours who have been complaining about the lack of proper maintainence in their estate envy the DAG's eternal glass half-full perspective in life. So when the pet did the unthinkable, he reaches for the camcoder to film the greatest circus show at his HDB point block. He had considered sending in the clip to the local television station, in the hope it would be featured on an episode of The Noose. He knew that the dumb ass reporters would lap it up like he did. One fateful day, he asked a fellow DAG over to catch the finals of the World Cup. While trying to leech onto a neighbour's wireless because the signals from the monopolistic internet service provider were lagging behind by several seconds and therefore doing the greatest game on earth the gravest disservice, the buddy stumbled upon the video recording on DAG's laptop. At that moment, DAG's buddy knew he had found the elixir to the millionth hit on YouTube, thus enabling him to become the NEXT BIG THING discovered on the internet. So the dude did the unthinkable and what happened thereafter is history.
Jokes aside. In all seriousness, if the couple was "convicted of animal cruelty", they "can be fined up to $10,000 and/or be imprisoned for up to 12 months."
So what was the outcome of the saga? On 23 July, the local papers, Straits Times, reported that the duo was let off with a stern warning:
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), which conducted a nine-day investigation into animal abuse allegations, said it found the dog 'healthy and in good condition', and that its owners had 'no ill intention to hurt their pet dog while attempting to discipline it'.
It said this case was different from one of animal cruelty, which involves deliberate intent to inflict harm and severe pain on an animal.
It noted that the dog's owners had voluntarily submitted themselves to the investigation, and that despite the beating, the dog, named Butters, was seen 'relating positively' to them.
Naturally, the folks at SPCA were displeased with the verdict :
Ms Dierdre Moss of the SPCA said the society had recommended that a fine be imposed and the dog be put through a mandatory obedience course, which will also teach its owners how to handle their pet.
She said: 'We are extremely disappointed with the outcome and will be appealing to the AVA to review its decision.'
AVA's final word on the matter?
...it will conduct as many follow-up visits as needed to check on the dog.
Right. If the dog was a human child, would the cameraman be in his right mind to film the abuse, put it up on YouTube, and then voluntarily turn himself in 3 days after SPCA had put out the appeal? Would the "beast" of a woman (affectionately labelled so by many outraged netizens) still employ the bundled bunch of soft canes to punish a human child of her own flesh and blood when it chews up her replacement pillow? Are they let off perhaps because Singapore society in general is just less tolerant of canines who would otherwise love their human friends unconditionally? I will save that thought for another day.
To the couple, I have this to say to them :
Next time, pick someone your own size.