MINDEF insists Pasir Ris camp stray dogs were 'unpredictable' and a 'persistent danger'

An image of the dog bites sustained by a female staff working at the Pasir Ris camp. (Photo: The Singapore Army Facebook page)

In the latest development in an unfolding dog abuse controversy, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on Tuesday evening insisted that the dogs at Pasir Ris camp were "aggressive", "unpredictable" and a "persistent danger" to staff there.

MINDEF shared these comments in a post on its Facebook page, seemingly in response to an earlier Facebook post by the father of a full-time national serviceman at the camp. The NSF had recorded and shared a video of a dog that was hung from ropes in a toilet cubicle.

The NSF, who has not been named, was on Tuesday charged with unauthorised videography and unauthorised disclosure of information to a third party — in this case, the Animal Lovers League (ALL), who in turn posted the 21-second clip on its Facebook page.

Read our previous report on the case and watch the video here.

His father, Simon Spencer, posted publicly on his Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon that the mistreatment of the dogs at the camp started with a warrant officer, who according to him threw a truncheon (a long baton) at the dogs to chase them away, because they had bitten one of the camp's administrative staff.

"However, things got out of hand this time when the lieutenant colonel personally brutally hit an innocent dog in the presence of the NSmen, as a demonstration of 'how it is done' in order to ensure that the strays would not dare to approach the army camp in the future," he wrote. "This was witnessed by my son and eight other NSFs who were threatened to be charged if they did not keep their silence."

Claim of a promise

According to Spencer, his son and a senior colleague of his were both charged, the latter because he had allowed the NSF to leave camp and approach the ALL representative that day. The lieutenant colonel, however, according to him, will not be charged because MINDEF said in a statement on Monday evening that there was no dog abuse found.

“(This) even after they took the statements of my son and the eight other NSFs of Pasir Ris camp who witnessed the lieutenant colonel abuse a dog,” wrote Spencer.

He then wrote that a representative from MINDEF called the ALL rescuer up to find out the identity of the NSF who recorded and shared the video with her, promising that it was “purely for investigation purposes into the animal abuse”, and that no charges would be pressed against Spencer’s son.

“It is clear that MINDEF did not keep their word,” he went on, saying that there “was no honour in the way this situation was handled” by the ministry. “It is only our word against theirs with regards to the empty promise that was made.”

Aggressive dogs?

In MINDEF’s statement on Monday night on Facebook, it said the allegations of dog abuse were “unfounded”, with the AVA saying there was no dog abuse committed.

It also said there were six incidents of attacks by the dogs at the camp in December last year, with four resulting in injuries to people — one of whom was a lady who was bitten twice.

In its follow-up statement on Tuesday evening, MINDEF showed a picture of the bites sustained by the female member of staff.

“Allegations against these commanders were untrue and unfounded,” the statement said, adding that the actions of Spencer’s son were “serious offences” for which he was punished.