MALAYSIA - A gleeful boy violently abused a defenceless puppy, gripping it by the tail and swinging it around before flinging it into the air.
The act, caught on video, led to the arrest of the 15-year-old boy after dozens of caring Malaysians lodged reports.
But there has now emerged another side of the story which paints the perpetrator as a neglected child, who was perhaps expressing his deep sense of abandonment with tantrums and rebelliousness.
According to animal rights activist T Puspa Rani, the boy's mother left his family when he was young.
His father, too, has withdrawn responsibility for the teen, while his aunt (the boy's present guardian) has also asked Puspa to take him away.
"He was mentally tortured by his father's second wife. She made sure he was separated from his dad before he was sent to his aunt's house in Bahau. I talked to her, and gathered from her that the boy was very deprived of love and attention, and only wants to be with his dad," said Puspa, who is founder of Malaysia Independent Animal Rescue.
The boy, who earned the ire of Malaysians after the video of him abusing an animal went viral, was arrested at his house at 1.30pm yesterday.
"He just kept silent the whole time - didn't say a word. You could see he was very scared. According to someone I spoke to from his school, this is not the first case of him abusing animals," said Puspa, who had earlier suggested on social media that taking the boy to an animal shelter to show him how dogs suffered would be a good way to change his mindset.
"Show him what is love. He can learn from our dogs."
Jempol OCPD Supt Hamzah Alias confirmed the boy was now out on police bail.
"The child has been cooperative with police," Supt Hamzah said, adding that the case was being investigated as mischief by killing or maiming any animal with the value of RM25 and above.
Facebook user Greg Bajien, who initially said the boy deserved to be caned or even whipped, softened his stance somewhat after being told about the boy's circumstances.
He said the Welfare Department should step in and find him a caring foster family
The Star understands that besides the case of abuse and truancy, there were no other complaints against the boy.
His academic results and conduct are said to be "normal", but he has not attended school since the arrest.