SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): A man who slashed 11 cats in Ang Mo Kio was sentenced last month to 12 weeks in jail. That punishment, say animal lovers, is not enough of a deterrent and they are calling for tougher penalties.
Commenting on the case, Cat Welfare Society president Thenuga Vijakumar said there were seven charges. While none of the cats died, "11 cats were severely injured and caregivers incurred a lot of costs".
"Twelve weeks is far too short considering (he could have drawn) the full 18-month sentence. It doesn't reflect the severity of the crime given the prolonged nature of his actions. He had put thought into it, with the buying of the penknife and deliberate hunting down of the cats."
Each count of animal cruelty carries a jail term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to S$15,000 or both. Leow Wei Liang, 37, pleaded guilty to three counts, while another four charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The Straits Times spoke to three volunteers who cared for 10 stray cats that were abused between April 25 and May 23. They helped to trap the animals so that they could get treatment, and funded the veterinary and boarding facility costs by crowdsourcing and topping up from their own pockets.
Raymond Tan, 44, who works in the information technology sector, said he was angry and disappointed with the sentencing.
He helped to look after four of the injured cats, and spent nearly a month trying to trap one that had three cuts on its back.
"After the cat got slashed, it wouldn't come out to eat because it was scared. When we finally managed to trap it, the wound was infested with maggots and the cat was very weak."
He added that it was released after treatment at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) clinic.
A 26-year-old - who wanted to be known only as Calista and declined to say what she works as - said she cared for Milo, a grey cat that had a 10cm gash on its left flank, and two other cats.
Milo's medical fees - and temporary boarding for the other cats - came up to more than $3,000, which she and a few other donors helped pay.
Milo remains at a boarding facility, where it has been for more than two months, recovering from complications from the attack.
SPCA executive director Jaipal Singh Gill said animal lovers who help look after stray cats and dogs are its "eyes and ears on the ground".
He said: "Cases are reported by members of the public and we are very grateful."
When the cats in Ang Mo Kio were slashed, SPCA appealed for help and cat lovers responded. Nicole Chan, 33, a housewife who took care of three of them, said she went to her MP's meet-the-people sessions, and plans to write to government agencies as well as put up social media posts to spread awareness about animal abuse.
"Eleven cats suffered at Leow's hands. And because of what he did, we had to get nine other stray cats off the streets and into boarding facilities to prevent more attacks. There needs to be more deterrence for abusers," she added. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network