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S$11,000 fine for man caught on video dropping dog into canal at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park

SINGAPORE — While taking his five dogs to Upper Peirce Reservoir Park for a swim during the circuit breaker period last year when non-essential outings were prohibited, Cheong Wah Meng dropped one of the dogs from a height of 1m into a drainage canal for a swim.

Cheong Wah Meng (right) trespassed a no-entry area at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park and put his pet in danger by dropping it into a canal for a swim (left).

Cheong Wah Meng (right) trespassed a no-entry area at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park and put his pet in danger by dropping it into a canal for a swim (left).

  • Cheong Wah Meng trespassed a “no entry” area at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park
  • He allowed his dogs to run unleashed when pets were disallowed there
  • He dropped his poodle from a height into fast-flowing waters at a drainage canal
  • His lawyer said he merely wanted his pets to enjoy themselves
  • He had earlier been given a stern written warning for the same offence

 

SINGAPORE — While taking his five dogs to Upper Peirce Reservoir Park for a swim during the circuit breaker period last year when non-essential outings were prohibited, Cheong Wah Meng dropped one of the dogs from a height of 1m into a drainage canal for a swim.

Pets are prohibited in nature reserves. A member of the public filmed him and his dogs and the video clip was later circulated on social media.

Cheong had already been given a stern written warning for taking his pets into the nature reserve two years before.

For his offences, the Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia was fined S$11,000 on Wednesday (July 7). He has to serve 40 days’ jail if he cannot pay the fine.

The 58-year-old pleaded guilty to eight charges of taking a dog into a nature reserve, trespassing in a “no entry” area, failing in his duty of care to a pet, not leashing the dogs in a public place, and keeping more than three dogs without authorisation.

Nineteen similar charges, including breaking Covid-19 laws by leaving his home during the circuit breaker, were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The Upper Peirce Reservoir Park, located along Old Upper Thomson Road, falls under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Cheong first took his dogs to the reservoir park on May 8 last year, when people were allowed to leave their homes only for essential purposes in order to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Closed-circuit television footage from national water agency PUB showed him releasing his five dogs — a poodle, a labrador retriever, a mongrel and two golden retrievers — to run freely from his van into the nature reserve through a side gate.

While pedestrians are allowed to visit the reservoir park during the day, signage there clearly stated that pets are banned.

However, Cheong followed his dogs and allowed them to swim in the drainage canal and reservoir.

DOG COULD HAVE DROWNED

A day later on May 9 last year, he returned with his domestic worker and the dogs. 

He parked his van outside the main gate of the nature reserve, which was closed throughout the day during the circuit breaker to discourage visitors from driving there, and entered through the side gate.

They then made their way to a bridge over a drainage canal linking the Upper Peirce Reservoir Park and Lower Peirce Reservoir Park. National Parks Board (NParks) prosecutor Packer Mohammad told the court that there was a “fast flow of water in the canal” at the time.

Cheong allowed the three retriever dogs to enter the canal before dropping the poodle into the running water. 

He then walked along the grass verge and met his pets at the outflow of Lower Peirce Reservoir. He repeated this routine several times before leaving the park.

‘HE LOVES HIS DOGS’

Investigators found that Cheong kept the dogs at his Thomson View residence. However, the poodle’s dog licence stated that it should have been kept at 20 Pasir Ris Farmway 2, Unit 5.

He also did not have approval to keep more than three dogs at home.

Mr Packer sought a total fine of S$12,600, saying that the estimated depth of water in the canal was 70m and that Cheong’s actions put the poodle “at risk of significant injury”. It was ultimately not hurt.

Cheong’s lawyer, Mr Daniel Woo, said in mitigation that his client loved his dogs and was solely motivated by his desire for them to be happy.

“Nevertheless, the ordeal has made him more mindful of his actions and he is filled with regret and remorse that his actions may have put his dogs in danger,” Mr Woo added.

When District Judge Lorraine Ho questioned the need to drop the poodle from a height, the lawyer said that Cheong “is someone who may not be very gentle” and that his “standard of danger is not what we are used to”.

The poodle had also wanted to play with the other dogs, Mr Woo said.

In sentencing, District Judge Ho noted that the potential risk could have been high as dogs can drown in fast-running water.

“No doubt, his intention was not to hurt the dog, but (it) was a dangerous act that did not take into account the safety of the animal,” she added.

For failing in his duty of care under the Animals and Birds Act, Cheong could have been jailed for up to a year or fined up to S$10,000, or both.

Those convicted of entering a nature reserve, national park or public park that are closed to the public can be fined up to S$2,000.

Related topics

crime court trespass pet Dog Upper Peirce Reservoir Park NParks

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