Warning: This article contains graphic images of animal cruelty
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Photos of a pair of puppies bound with ropes and used as live bait in a crocodile trap went viral on social media Wednesday, sparking widespread outrage with calls for greater enforcement of animal cruelty laws.
The images of the animals — one tied inside a large cage, and the other bound to a wooden stake on the banks of Sungai Kuala Tutong — spread rapidly after a local animal charity, Care and Action for Strays (CAS), posted the photos to its Facebook account.
Ada Ang, co-founder of CAS, said two volunteers from the NGO went down to the site around noon on Wednesday after receiving a public tip-off.
“A kind Muslim family who spotted the pups in the cage were horrified at what they saw and reached out to us through our social media,” she told The Scoop.
“Our co-founder, Jean, and another volunteer rushed down to Tutong to try and retrieve the pups, but one was already dead when we arrived on the scene.”
Ada said it is likely that the puppies has been out there for a few days.
“A pup wouldn’t die after just 24 hours exposed to the elements. The one puppy we did rescue was severely dehydrated and frightened.”
She added that the mother of the puppies was also spotted nearby in the brush, franticly running around, frightened by humans.
“We tried our best to rescue her as well, but she was too skittish and afraid for us to capture her.”
The area where the crocodile trap was set is also the site where a nine-year-old boy went missing on December 16, believed to have been dragged into the water by a large crocodile. Authorities are still conducting a search operation to retrieve his body, but to no avail.
Speaking to The Scoop, a representative from the Wildlife Division said they set the trap with a dead chicken to try and lure the crocodile to shore, in hopes they could retrieve the boy’s body, but they denied using the puppies as live bait.
“We never use live baits, it is not us [who tied the puppy]. We do not know who is responsible,” said the rep. “We continue to work with the Royal Brunei Police Force [on this matter].”
Under Brunei law, it is illegal for the public to trap wild animals.
The Minor Offences Act also criminalises ill-treatment, abuse and torture of animals — both wild and domesticated. Individuals convicted of animal cruelty face a fine of $1,000 or three months in prison for each offence.
CAS said better enforcement of these laws is needed, citing another incident of a kitten being dismembered and discarded near a restaurant just before Christmas, which was also documented on the NGO’s Facebook page.
“We have deep sympathy for the grieving family of the missing boy,” Ada said. “But this is not an effective or humane way to try and catch the crocodile.”
“We still don’t know who is responsible for placing the puppies there, but we hope this situation can raise better awareness of animal welfare.
Ada said the rescued pup is currently being fostered by one of their volunteers, but they are searching for a permanent home for the animal.
“We have about 100 dogs currently being fostered and cared for by our volunteers, so we really need to find a good home for this little puppy who has gone through so much trauma.”