SINGAPORE — Over the course of about a year, 42-year-old Singaporean Clement Chia repeatedly punched and tied up his pet toy poodle. Sometimes, he would hit it with a hard-plastic hanger and even got his cousin Chia Yong-Quan, 38, to film the abuse.
On one occasion, Clement bound the poodle’s front legs together and forced it to stand upright on its hind legs, while wet, before a fan with wind blowing directly at it, causing it to shiver. Around 18 seconds later, the poodle’s hind legs became weak and it had difficulty standing.
In a 76-second long clip, Clement can be heard threatening the poodle by saying “One more time down ... I slap you” before commenting in Mandarin that the poodle’s eyes were wet as it was tearing.
The poodle, named Leslie, grew so weak that it eventually fell and was unable to stay upright. Clement then scolded and threatened Leslie, pulled its ear and neck to force it to stay upright before the fan again, and said that he would punch the poodle.
In another clip, self-recorded by Clement, he posed for the camera before pulling the poodle up by its ears, and repeatedly punching its face. He then grabbed the poodle by its hind legs and swung it, while smirking at the camera.
On Wednesday, Clement pleaded guilty to four charges under the Animals and Birds Act of cruelly torturing the poodle. The offences were committed sometime between October 2016 and November 2017 in his Farrer Park Road flat.
Two other charges of owning the poodle in breach of the licensing requirements and failing to bring it to a vet to obtain the necessary medical attention will be taken into consideration for his sentencing on 7 October.
Sentencing was adjourned by District Judge Lorraine Ho as she had requested a statement from Clement’s ex-girlfriend, in order to find out the state of the dog when he gave it to her.
Last month, Yong-Quan was fined $4,500 for failing to stop his cousin from committing the abuse. He was also disqualified from owning pets for a year.
'Deliberate and persistent acts of abuse'
The offences came to light in July 2020 when six video clips of Clement torturing the poodle went viral. Several members of the public alerted the Animal and Veterinary Service of the National Parks Board of the abuse.
According to court documents, Leslie was around four years old at the time of the offences and was bought by Clement some time in 2016 for $2,000. It was adopted by Clement's ex-girlfriend in November 2017.
Each of Clement's charges carries a sentencing range of up to 18 months' jail and/or a fine of up to $15,000 for first-time offenders.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Norine Tan is seeking a sentence of eight to 12 months' jail for Clement, as well as a 12-month disqualification order preventing him from owning pets.
Before 2015, the sentencing range was lower – up to 12 months and a $10,000 fine. This was increased by Parliament in 2014 after taking on board the views of the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee.
DPP Tan noted that Clement's level of culpability is high, given the "deliberate and persistent acts of abuse" and the pain and suffering he had inflicted on the defenceless poodle, which was particularly vulnerable given its relatively small build.
The DPP noted that Clement is not a first-time offender. Among his many offences, he was previously convicted of rioting, as well as riotous/disorderly/indecent behaviour.
DPP Tan rejected Clement's claim that he was merely disciplining the poodle, given that his acts exceeded any acceptable act of discipline, if that was even the intention.
"Further, disciplining does not require one to film the acts – let alone smile and smirk at, and pose for, the camera," she added, noting it was "ironic" that Clement was now incriminated by his own decision to record the abuse.
"In most instances of animal abuse, there would not be any evidence or witnesses."
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