SINGAPORE: A man seen in a viral video dropping dogs into a canal during the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period last year was charged in court on Wednesday (Feb 24) with multiple offences, including taking dogs into a nature reserve for swimming without approval.
Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident Cheong Wah Meng, 58, allegedly took five dogs into Upper Pierce Reservoir Park on May 8 and 9 last year, bypassing "No Entry" signs and failing to keep the dogs on a leash.
He was given 27 charges including two counts under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act for leaving his house without reasonable excuse during the circuit breaker when non-essential outings were forbidden.
He also faces multiple charges under the Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing and Control) Rules, among them for keeping more than three dogs in his home at 9 Thomson View, and charges under the Parks and Trees Act for taking dogs into a nature reserve without approval.
Despite no entry signs at Upper Pierce Reservoir Park, a designated nature reserve, Cheong allegedly led a poodle, a labrador retriever, a mongrel and two golden retrievers into the park.
According to charge sheets, he left his home without reasonable excuse to take five dogs for swimming at a drainage canal near the main gate of the reservoir park.
Cheong allegedly risked injury to one of the dogs by dropping it from a height of one metre into fast-running water. NParks said in a statement around the time of the incident that all of the dogs were well.
In a video posted on Facebook page Chained Dog Awareness Singapore on May 9, Cheong was seen dropping a dog in what appeared to be a canal. According to the page, a witness saw a man throwing four to five dogs into a canal.
Cheong will return to court next month.
For COVID-19 offences, he could be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both. For taking a dog into a nature reserve without approval, he could be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$50,000, or both.
For failing to ensure his dog is protected from significant injury by dropping it into the water, Cheong could be jailed up to a year, fined up to S$10,000, or both.
For entering a nature reserve that is closed to the public, he could be fined up to S$2,000. For keeping more than three dogs in his home, he could be fined up to S$5,000. He could be fined up to S$5,000 for not leashing his dogs in public.
Editor's note: A previous version of the story said one of the dogs was injured from being dropped into the water. This is incorrect. NParks said after the incident last May that the dogs are well. We apologise for the error.