Howls of protest over dog trainer's '4 weeks of hell' video
A video showing a dog being abused has gone viral, sparking a furore in Singapore.
It was posted on the Facebook page of animal welfare group Chained Dog Awareness in Singapore (CDAS) on Wednesday (July 13).
Within a day, the two-minute video dated March 20 this year had been shared over a thousand times.
The abuse is believed to have taken place on the premises of K9 Connection, which offers day school, boarding and training for dogs.
The video shows a leashed brown dog being hit with a metal bowl and a rod.
A man’s voice can be heard saying: “Welcome to hell my friend, four weeks of hell.”
“You make a single noise, see what (will) happen to you.”
He utters vulgarities before hitting the dog.
A child can be heard whimpering in the background.
Netizens were quick to react. User Zion Iris Lee said on Facebook: “How can he offer boarding when he does not have the love for animals?”
Another user, Li Cheng Thein, added: “The trainer should be given the same treatment!”
A spokesman for CDAS told TNP that the clip had been widely circulated on Whatsapp before someone forwarded it to her.
She added that after the video went up on their Facebook page, concerned pet owners had flocked to message them, and many of them had recognised the location in the video.
CDAS stated in an update that "reliable sources" had confirmed the incident happened at K9 Connection's facility at 450 MacPherson Road.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) also received several reports regarding the incident and was assisting the relevant authorities in their investigations.
A previous customer had contacted an employee of K9 Connection, and was told the man in the video was a freelancer who had merely rented a kennel.
The employee added that after the incident, they “don’t rent kennels out to anyone at all”.
Another customer messaged trainer and director Matthew Ng, and got a similar reply.
TNP tried to contact Mr Ng and received no response.
On its website, K9 Connection boasted of staff with “Canine First Aid and Basic Grooming certifications”. Its trainers are accredited and employ "science-based" methods, ensuring a “safe, secure, and positive space for your dogs”.
It has had its share of good and bad reviews.
Customer Jeff Chia, 34, who found the trainers at K9 Connection helpful, told TNP on Thursday: “I was surprised at the video and there may have been another story, but we don’t know the truth.”
Another, who wished to be known only as Lou, said the guys there had been “brilliant”.
But one who wanted to remain anonymous claimed they had to take their dog to a veterinarian after leaving it there for nine days in December last year, to get it checked for injuries.
Mr Nick Rana, who had used K9 Connection’s daycare service, also spoke to TNP, and claimed that his dogs had come back dehydrated and “smelling like urine”.
When TNP went down to K9 Connection on Thursday, dogs could be heard barking but no one came to the door.
SPCA’s executive director Aarthi Sankar told TNP: “We are deeply disturbed by the actions portrayed in the video as they are both abusive towards animals and insensitive towards humans.”
Based on the audio, SPCA was also concerned that the perpetrator may have treated other animals under his care in a similar manner.
“Unfortunately, cases of choking, strangling, suspending, kicking, beating and shocking a dog with electric collars are still being practised within the animal training industry,” she said.
“These methods are archaic and cause more harm than good.”
In 2020, the SPCA launched the ‘Teach with Kindness’ campaign, aiming to put an end to such outdated methods.
Ms Sankar said: “Avoid trainers who promise immediate results or who do not provide you sufficient information about the training programme and curriculum.
“Ensure that you monitor your pet’s well-being and look out for any signs of distress during the training.
“If you see an act of cruelty or suspect mistreatment of animals in the form of training, alert the SPCA or the relevant authorities.”
Any member of the public who has credible information or further evidence of abuse related to the case can contact the SPCA at their 24/7 hotline at 6287 5355 (ext. 9) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
TNP also contacted the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) for comment, and was told that the matter was under investigation.
K9 Connection has been suspended from the AVS list of accredited dog trainers since March 25, The Straits Times reported.