A 10-year-old boy who caused outrage last December when he callously threw a community cat off a Housing and Development Board (HDB) block has completed a rehabilitative program led by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS).
Following the completion of the program, the boy has been issued a stern warning for his actions.
The AVS, a cluster of the National Parks Board, revealed in a statement to the media on Friday (Jul 28) that the young boy now has a better understanding of the gravity of his actions.
According to AVS’ group director, Jessica Kwok, the boy expressed remorse and conveyed his apology to the caregivers of the cat. He has also assured that he will not engage in such behavior again.
The boy underwent a psychiatric assessment by a professional from the Institute of Mental Health, who determined that he lacked the maturity to comprehend the nature and consequences of his actions.
The incident came to light on December 15, 2022, when a surveillance camera captured the boy throwing the male cat, named Panther, off the 22nd floor of Block 186 Boon Lay Avenue. Disturbing footage of the incident was later posted on Facebook, prompting public outcry.
The cat, who had been part of the community for over 15 years under the care of caregivers, succumbed to its injuries and passed away.
To address the boy’s behavior, AVS employed a “diversionary program” after consulting with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, considering the boy’s age and psychiatric assessment.
Through the rehabilitation program, the boy gained knowledge about animal welfare, the importance of caring for animals, coexisting with animals in the community, and understanding the laws protecting animal health and welfare in Singapore.
The program was tailored to be age-appropriate to foster the boy’s understanding effectively.
As part of the program, the boy had practical sessions at a cat shelter where he learned proper cat care techniques, such as feeding, handling, and grooming the felines. His father accompanied him throughout the program, supporting his rehabilitation journey.
Upon the successful completion of the diversionary program, AVS issued a stern warning to the boy and pledged to collaborate with his school to monitor his progress closely. AVS reiterated its firm stance against the mistreatment of pets and community animals and vowed to take appropriate enforcement measures against those found neglecting their pets or engaging in animal cruelty.
Under the Animal and Birds Act, first-time offenders caught abusing animals can face charges in court, potentially leading to imprisonment for up to 18 months, a fine of up to S$15,000, or both. Additionally, offenders may be banned from owning animals for up to 12 months.
Members of the public were urged to report any suspected cases of animal cruelty to AVS via its website or the Animal Response Centre hotline at 1800-476-1600.
During a press briefing, Jessica Kwok addressed concerns about the boy’s involvement in other similar cases in the neighborhood. AVS confirmed that no other reports of the boy’s involvement were received. The organization has maintained communication with the boy’s family and school to ensure his progress and well-being.
AVS also provided updates on two other animal cruelty cases – one involving a teenager caught abusing a cat along an HDB block corridor in April and another case where several pet cats were found caged and abandoned in a rental flat on Jalan Minyak in June. Investigations are ongoing in both cases.
AVS emphasized the challenges in investigating animal cruelty cases due to the lack of direct witnesses and the voicelessness of the victims. Among the approximately 1,250 animal cruelty cases investigated by AVS each year, about 5 percent are substantiated with sufficient evidence to demonstrate an offense has occurred. Enforcement actions taken by AVS vary, ranging from issuing warning letters to composition fines, and in severe cases, offenders may face court charges, especially when a large number of animals or significant animal welfare issues are involved.
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