BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – An 80-year-old man was charged with animal cruelty on Tuesday after videos of him allegedly bludgeoning seven puppies to death went viral on social media.

The defendant, Hj Md Tahir Hj Nudin, allegedly tied the puppies in a rice sack and beat them to death with the handle of an axe.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Dk Didi-Nuraza Pg Abdul Latiff said the incident occurred on March 31 near a house in Kg Sungai Orok. Footage of the gruesome act quickly spread on social media leading to several concerned netizens to file police reports.

The accused has yet to enter a plea but faces up to five years in jail if convicted.

Under section 428 of the Penal Code, the penalty for killing, poisoning or maiming an animal is five years in prison and not less than two strokes of the cane. However, law exempts anyone above the age 50 from being caned.

The defendant, represented by counsel Rozaiman Abdul Rahman, will appear in court again on April 21.

Ada Ang, co-founder of the non-profit Care and Action for Strays (CAS), said it is one of the few animal cruelty cases that have made it to courts.

Previous cases include a man who was jailed for 10 months in 2017 for battering his neighbour’s three cats to death, while a group of teenagers were sent to juvenile court in 2019 after they filmed a video of themselves bashing a stray dog with large rocks.

“Even though our volunteers come across cases of animal abuse regularly, it is hard for action to be taken against individuals without clear evidence,” Ada said.

Several members of the public shared video and CCTV footage of the incident with CAS, but Ada said any witnesses still need to come forward and give statements to police because the man in the video cannot be clearly identified.

She added that neighbours tried to intervene during the incident but were also fearful because the man was holding a weapon.

“Public outcry and media attention have forced the authorities to act and we applaud them for taking this step. We hope the courts will send a strong and deterrent message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable.”

The puppies’ mothers have been taken in by foster families, but CAS said they are still looking for permanent homes for the two dogs.

“They were found wailing and crying at the scene of the crime, searching for their kids. One dog was rescued by a neighbour while another is being fostered by a CAS volunteer,” Ada said. “They are very friendly and not feral so we suspect they are abandoned pets.”

One mum, a chocolate brown canine, has been named Sally, while the other dog, with white and tan colouring, has been nicknamed Dumbo for her big ears.