Public outcry over alleged dog beating

National 2 minutes, 56 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A WEEKEND post on social media by a man claiming to have witnessed the brutal killing of a stray puppy at Jln Lugu has received a storm of comments, reopening debates on the issue of animal cruelty in Brunei.

Darryl Tieng, the eyewitness of Saturday evening's alleged stray killing, gave The Brunei Times his account, having come across the incident while driving along the road on his way back home from work. Passing over a speed hump, Tieng saw two puppies on it. One was dead, an obvious roadkill, while the other was wailing, lying on the body of its slain sibling.

He claims that two unidentified male adults approached the crying puppy, each holding thick branches in their hands. Tieng exited his car when he saw them beating it.

“I was confused, in shock, in denial. I couldn't believe what I saw,” said Tieng, who gave chase to the men but was unable to reach them before they disappeared into a clearing on the edge of a forested area.

After encouragement from friends, he took to Facebook the same evening, relating the incident in a post that soon whipped up a flurry of public responses. Most were supportive, others sceptical that Tieng had done his best to prevent the horrific killing.

Co-founders of local NGO Care and Action for Strays (CAS) Ada Ang and Agnes Seah have spoken out against the reprehensible deed but say that such acts, while infrequent, continue to happen in society, particularly when dealing with stray animals.

“In terms of purposeful inflicted abuse, dogs tend to be higher (in frequency). Their tails are cut, stones thrown at them or even firecrackers,” says Seah, who recounts cases where she encountered dogs with severed legs, scalding, ropes bound around their necks and intentional roadkill.

Seah theorises that dogs are more targeted because of existing “mindsets especially among the older generation” about dogs: They tend to be louder if there is a pack in a neighbourhood and most people may not like the noise.”

For CAS, education and awareness is still the key to improve the situation, and hope to see improvements to tolerance towards strays. With few volunteers, their work in rescuing strays is limited, and is even the target of sabotage.

“Some dogs at our feeding sites are poisoned… these are already sterilised under our TNR programme,” adds Seah, referring to CASs' Trap, Neuter, Release concept aimed to prevent strays from breeding.

Ang says that CAS has recorded about 50 direct cases of animal cruelty and noted another 50 unconfirmed cases: “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many don't report because they don't know how to reach us or feel that there is nothing we can do so don't bother.”

Ang says most people reporting cases are not willing to come forward with details, fearing backlash from colleagues, neighbours or society. Tieng attempted to lodge a report at the Sengkurong Police Station on Monday, but was informed that the police could only act if he had owned the animal or if the act had happened on his property.

Although it has previously been reported that the country lacks legislation on animal cruelty, Brunei Darussalam's laws contain such provisions, under Section 25 under the Minor Offences Act (Chapter 30). It states that “Any person who cruelly beats, ill-treats, abuses, tortures, or causes or procures to be cruelly beaten, ill-treated, abused, or tortured, any animal shall for every such offence be liable to a penalty of $1,000 or to imprisonment for 3 months.”

The Brunei Times