SINGAPORE, Sept 8 — In several video clips either filmed by himself or his cousin, Clement Chia Tian Xiang repeatedly beat and tortured his pet poodle, often with its legs or mouth restrained.

More than three years later, the clips surfaced online and went viral, leading to his arrest and prosecution in court.

The 42-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Sept 8) to four charges under the Animals and Birds Act of cruelly torturing an animal. 

District Judge Lorraine Ho will consider two other charges — including failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the dog was protected from injury or disease, namely a skin lesion and skin and ear infections — for sentencing on October 7.

Chia kept his head bowed as the video clips, taken between October 2016 and November 2017 in his Farrer Park Road flat, were played in court. 

They ranged between 25 seconds to about one-and-a-half minutes in length.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Norine Tan told the court that Chia had bought the dog, a male poodle named Leslie, for S$2,000 (RM6,175) in 2016. The canine was about four years old at the time.

He gave it away to his former girlfriend in November 2017.

In one of the clips, which was taken by his cousin Chia Yong-Quan, 38, he had bound the dog’s mouth shut with white string before beating it with a closed fist multiple times, while holding it down by its neck to prevent it from escaping. It struggled and could be heard whimpering.

Chia Yong-Quan was fined S$4,500 in July for failing to stop the torture.

In another clip, Chia could be heard counting down before using a plastic hanger to repeatedly beat the poodle’s right hind leg and right front leg. He then held the dog up and struck it in mid-air. Its mouth was bound shut with white string again. 

In a clip that Chia had recorded himself, he could be seen posing and smirking at the camera, then pulling the dog up by its ears and repeatedly punching its face.

In yet another clip, he had bound the dog’s front legs and mouth. It was shaking frantically while lying on a pink towel and eventually hid its face in a pillow.

In a fifth clip taken by Chia’s cousin, Chia forced the dog to stand up in front of a fan after binding its front legs together. As it shivered and almost fell over with its eyes watering, Chia said: “One more time you down, I slap you ah.”

It eventually slumped down but Chia pulled it upright, saying: “Slap you means I’ll slap you, stand up.”

The clips only came to light in July 2020 when they were shared by multiple users on Facebook. Several members of the public alerted the Animal Veterinary Services, a unit under the National Parks Board.

In court, DPP Tan revealed that Chia had been given 18 months’ probation for rioting in 1996. He was also convicted of rioting and disorderly or indecent behaviour in 2015.

Aside from these more relevant antecedents, the prosecutor said that Chia had previously been convicted of offences such as theft, possession of obscene films, transmitting a false message and failing to stop in a traffic accident.

District Judge Ho adjourned sentencing after asking for a statement from Chia’s ex-girlfriend, in order to find out the state of the dog when Chia gave it to her.

Those convicted of cruelly torturing an animal can be jailed for up to 18 months or fined up to S$15,000, or both. They can also be disqualified from owning an animal for up to 12 months. — TODAY