by Teo Soh Lung
Under the Animals and Birds Act, cruelty to animals is an arrestable offence. This means authorised officers (including AVA officers) or police or customs officers are empowered to enter premises to investigate an alleged offence.
In the case of the Platinum Dogs Club, it is reported in the media that a dog has died and another gone missing. So I was quite surprised that the house of the owners who allegedly ran the dog club was not raided by AVA officers. Instead a rather polite notice was posted on the gate requesting them to resolve the matter with affected parties and the relevant authorities “as soon as possible”.
The penalty for offences committed under the Animals and Birds Act range from $40,000 or jail for 2 years or both in the case an offence committed by an animal related business. In the case of individuals, the penalty is $15,000 or 18 months jail or both.
If we compare the treatment which activists receive from police officers for offences that attract penalties of between $2000 to $5000 and jail of up to 2 years, there appears to be a huge difference.
The activists are intimidated by police officers (at least 5 or 6) who suddenly appear at his door, invite themselves into the house and the activist is treated like a dangerous criminal with a number of officers standing guard on him while his personal computers and electronic devices are seized. That done, he is told to report at the police station on that very day. If an activist asks for a postponement of an appointment, he can be met with silence and arrested without notice. There is no polite request that he can contact the police station “as soon as possible”.
While the Platinum Dogs Club is alleged to have cause one death and could not account for a missing pet, the activists on the other hand did not cause death or harm to any animal or human being.
So why is there such a huge discrepancy in the treatment of an alleged animal abuser and an activist who is alleged to have committed a minor offence?