Sorry I hit the dog, says man accused of abuse
Video of dog rescuer punching, kicking husky causes outrage online.
He has been called names and described as mentally unbalanced. Someone even said he was "worse than a beast".
From an active dog fosterer and rescuer, Mr Alan Chiam became notorious after a video of him raining blows on a leashed husky went viral yesterday morning.
The two clips, uploaded by Facebook user Maimunah Mohadi, show a man at the back of a house with three dogs. One of them is a black-and-white husky on a leash.
Mr Chiam is seen punching the husky's head, before lifting it up briefly by its neck, as it dangles in mid-air.
In between chastising the husky, he kicks the dog twice.
CAUGHT: In a video posted on Facebook, a man is seen kicking a black-and-white husky on a leash (above), before lifting it by its neck. PHOTOS: STOMP
Since the clips were uploaded yesterday, they have been shared more than 10,200 times. One video had over 400,000 views, while the other clocked over 225,000 views.
Initially reticent about the incident, all Mr Chiam would then tell The New Paper was: "My conscience is clear."
Later last night, the man, who is in his early 40s, changed his tune.
Apologising for the "seemingly harsh actions", he clarified that he made sure to control his strength so that the husky was not hurt.
That morning, the husky had a fight with a golden retriever after their routine morning walk near Mr Chiam's house in Jalan Loyang Besar.
CAUGHT: In a video posted on Facebook, a man is seen kicking a black-and-white husky on a leash, before lifting it by its neck (above). PHOTOS: STOMP
When Mr Chiam's helper tried to stop them from biting each other, the husky started growling, and attempted to charge and attack the woman, he added.
Mr Chiam found out what had happened only when he heard his helper's screams.
"I started off with pouring ice cold water on the husky in an attempt to divert his attention to stop the fight but to no avail.
"Then I started to separate the fight using the wheelbarrow method from the back," he said.
The wheelbarrow method refers to lifting a dog's back paws up like a wheelbarrow, and moving it away from the other dog. This helps to separate dogs in a fight.
It stopped the fight but the husky continued growling at both the golden retriever and the helper, and showed signs of wanting to charge at her, said Mr Chiam.
Admitting that he is not a certified dog trainer, Mr Chiam then explained his actions caught on camera: "In a moment of anxiety, I then resorted to such an action."
Adding that he has been helping to foster dogs with health problems and behavioural issues, he said: "As all dog rescuers or dog owners know, time is needed for dogs to adapt in a new environment.
"During this time, new behavioural issues will surface. Unfortunately, in this case, this applies to the husky."
Netizens' views were mixed over Mr Chiam's explanation for his actions.
One Facebook user, Sara Jean Fisher, wrote: "Shocked that it was you. No excuses for such behaviour!!!"
Mark Cheong wrote: "Even after explaining there will still be some who have different view of what happened.
"Unless it really happens to them, I guess. It take a great man to admit his mistake and I hope no one bothers his family members over this issues."
Others, like Mabel Chong, thought he was just making excuses.
Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, the acting executive director for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (SPCA), said the husky is now under SPCA's care, and has been sent for a thorough physical examination and X-rays.
"The SPCA condemns this blatant act of animal abuse and will work closely with the authorities for stern action to be taken against the perpetrator."
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it is investigating.
Mr Chiam said his family has been harassed since the videos went viral.
He has since filed a police report to protect his distressed family members from further harassment.
Mr Chiam appealed to the public: "Please leave my family members out of this matter. Thank you."
Trainer: Use of force not justified
If the dogs were not comfortable with each other, there should have been appropriate safety measures in place to prevent fights, said Dr Kang Nee, an animal behaviourist and certified dog trainer.
"Force-free training to help integrate the dogs into the family could have been implemented with the guidance of qualified, knowledgeable and reputable trainers.
"The use of force instead of implementing kinder, more humane measures as alternatives, is not justified from a welfare and ethical standpoint," she said.
Using aversive techniques on dogs which are reactive may escalate reactivity, she added.
In situations when dogs are provoked, Dr Kang suggested getting behind something to protect yourself.