A total of ten animal welfare groups (AWGs) submitted an open letter to Minister of Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen and Minister of National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan to ask for the case of alleged animal abuse in Pasir Ris Camp to be reviewed.
Early this year in January a full-time National Serviceman (NSF) witnessed two incidents of alleged animal abuse against stray dogs in his camp by his senior officers - a Lieutenant Colonel and a Warrant Officer. As he was emotionally affected by the actions, he then sent a video clip of one of these dogs shown to be tied up to a local Animal Welfare Group, the Animal Lovers League (ALL) in a bid to seek help for the captured dog. A huge online furor happened after the video went viral. The NSF's identity was revealed to Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and was given 21 days stoppage of leave as punishment for taking video in camp. (story)
Agriculture and Veterinary Authority (AVA) conducted a preliminary examination and announced that there were no signs of animal abuse without providing details of the process of the said examination. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) stated that it would conduct an investigation into the matter and does not condone animal abuse by its soldiers.
The AWGs pointed out the anonymity of the complainant was not only unprotected but exposed by the investigators, compromising the NSF's status in camp. It was reported that MINDEF claimed that the parent’s account of promises by SAF was “unfounded.
Recommendations by the Animal Welfare Groups
The AWGs recommend that the parameters of animal abuse to be redefined and they opine that the conduct of the assessment of the definition of “unnecessary pain or suffering” has negated the psychological distress that the video-graphed dog was subjected to, under the hands of the officers involved.
The AWGs also recommend that starting with this dog abuse incident, relevant AWG(s) can be included into the animal abuse investigation process with a special investigation committee with representative from both the AVA and a recognized AWG to be formed for every case of animal abuse. All the members of this collective has volunteered as a potential representative in such a committee.
They also seek the invitation of AWGs on the early management of animals in SAF camp complexes. They pointed out that although there had been an increase in the number of cases of dog attacks by its personnel but the camp had chosen to suffer one alleged dog bite attack after another until the reported 5th report, before choosing to take action.
The group noted that if the camp could have issued an immediate call for help to AWGs like ALL or ASD or SOSD after the first incident, the subsequent incidents would not have occurred.
It is further recommended that the SAF considers the adoption of new stray management protocol that includes humane handling of animals deemed to be of threat to camp safety, avoiding unnecessary distress to NSFs witnessing officers treating animals in an untrained, allegedly inhumane manner.
Open Letter by the AWGs to the two ministries.