Activist thought NSF wouldn't be punished

Four of five dogs taken from the Pasir Ris camp that are now under the care of Animal Lovers League.

SINGAPORE - The animal activist who uploaded the video of a dog allegedly being abused in an army camp said she revealed the identity of her informant, a full-time national serviceman (NSF), because she was under the impression he would merely be warned.

Ms Cathy Strong, founder of Animal Lovers League, added that she would not have given his name to the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) staff member who contacted her, had she known he would be charged and punished.

The NSF was given a 21-day Suspension of Leave which started this week, and has to check in with the military police every two hours, The Straits Times reported.

The army has said that he violated camp security regulations by taking photographs and sharing them. It has also pointed to the danger that stray dogs posed to its staff.

Ms Strong said she did not know the NSF prior to the incident, but added that he might have called her as her shelter is located near the camp.

The 21-second clip that was put up on Facebook on Jan 14 shows a black mongrel tied up in what appeared to be a bathroom stall.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday that has since been shared more than 5,000 times, the NSF's father, Mr Simon Spencer, wrote that a warrant officer had thrown a truncheon at the strays and that a lieutenant-colonel had hit a dog.

"This was witnessed by my son and eight other NSFs who were threatened to be charged if they did not keep their silence," Mr Spencer wrote.

Regarding what happened between Ms Strong and Mindef, Mr Spencer said: "There was no honour in the way this situation was handled by the SAF. It is only our word against theirs."

But the army said on Tuesday on its Facebook page that "the dogs were never abused. Allegations against these commanders were untrue and unfounded".

It added that the NSF in Pasir Ris Camp had "violated camp security regulations that prohibit unauthorised photography in camp and disclosure of information to people outside the Singapore Armed Forces".

Posting a photograph of the dog bites suffered by one of the camp's staff, the army added that there were at least five recorded occasions of "dogs biting or attempting to bite our staff".

It said the dogs were "unpredictable" and a "persistent danger" to camp staff, and, after unsuccessful attempts to chase the dogs out, the unit was advised by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to contain them and hand them over to the AVA.

Ms Strong said five dogs taken from the camp are doing well at the League's shelter and she is trying to find homes for them.

adrianl@sph.com.sg

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