Singapore - Singapore's military has sparked an online storm after punishing a whistle-blowing soldier for leaking video footage of a dog allegedly being abused inside an army camp.
The controversy was triggered after a soldier filmed a cowering stray dog suspended by a taut white rope around its neck in a military camp bathroom, preventing the animal from lying down or moving around.
He released it to an animal rights activist, a member of local group Animal Lovers League, who subsequently shared the video on Facebook on January 14.
The 21-second clip displaying the restrained jet-black dog went viral and triggered widespread condemnation from Singapore's animal-lovers.
The soldier, whose name has not been revealed, had also alleged that stray dogs venturing into the suburban military camp were being beaten.
Singapore maintains a conscript-based military. Every able-bodied male citizen and permanent resident over 18 years must undergo two years of military training.
In a Facebook post late on Tuesday, the military denied any abuse of stray dogs by the camp's commanders and said the soldier had been punished for violating rules against unauthorised photography inside the camp and disclosure of information to persons outside the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
It did not specify the punishment for the soldier, but the Straits Times newspaper said he was ordered to be confined in camp for 21 days.
The army also said stray dogs entering the camp “were a persistent danger to personnel”, with six incidents of attacks in December.
“The SAF does not condone any acts of cruelty to animals... The dogs were never abused. Allegations against these commanders were untrue and unfounded,” it said.
The statement however did not comment on how the dog featured in the viral video came to be restrained in the military camp's bathroom.
Animal rights activist Louis Ng said the incident had caused anger as the army statement did not address the case of the dog in the video.
“If you are not going to release all the facts to the public, rumours are going to spread like wildfire,” Ng, the chief executive of rights group Animal Concerns Research & Education Society, told AFP.
“People acknowledge that the soldier committed an offence according to the law, but there is also confusion because it doesn't make sense that the dog was not abused,” he said.
The incident is the second case of alleged animal abuse that has sparked an online furore in Singapore in recent months.
The euthanising of a healthy puppy by its expatriate owner in October triggered a debate on a growing trend of pet-owners in the wealthy city-state abandoning their furry companions after their initial enthusiasm. - AFP