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Teo Hui Min
Sun, Jun 15, 2008
The New Paper
If your hit-and-run victim is an animal: you get fined or jailed

IF you hit someone on the road and flee from the scene of the accident, you will get into trouble with the law.

But what if you knock down an animal?

Well, don't think you can just drive off.

Under the Road Traffic Act, if you are involved in an accident where a person or an animal is injured, you have to stop your vehicle and help the victims.

If not, you can face a fine up to $3,000 or be jailed up to a year.

For a subsequent conviction, you can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to two years.

Lawyer Luke Lee told The New Paper: 'Animals are protected under the same law as humans.'

And those who injure an animal in a hit-and-run case face the same penalties if the law is violated, he added.

Ms Deirdre Moss, executive officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said: 'Most people, unfortunately, do not think that such cases are important just because (the victim) is an animal.'

Student Andrew Teo's dog was one such victim.

On 4 Jun, the 23-year-old took his 2-year-old miniature schnauzer, Vodka, for their usual evening walk.

At 9.45pm, they were about to cross Choa Chu Kang Crescent when a white van sped towards them.

Mr Teo said he was standing on the pavement while Vodka, who was on a leash, was already on the road.

On seeing the van, Mr Teo tried to pull the dog back, but Vodka slipped out of his collar and dashed across the road.

It was hit by the van and blood oozed from its right ear and nostrils.

Mr Teo saw the van had stopped a few metres away and two men came out. Mr Teo said that when they saw him, they quickly got back into the van and allegedly drove off.

But he managed to take down its licence plate number.

Three passers-by, two of whom are Mr Teo's neighbours, helped him move Vodka onto the pavement.

He said: 'By that time, I knew Vodka was dead. His body was intact, but you could feel that his skull had been crushed.'

Mr Teo took the dog to its vet to get a death certificate and then went to a police station to make a report.

A police spokesman confirmed Mr Teo's report and said they are investigating the accident, which happened between Block 662 and Block 691A at Choa Chu Kang Crescent.

The road has no pedestrian crossings or traffic lights, but Mr Teo and other residents said that it has low traffic even during the day.

The vet's medical report declared Vodka dead on arrival. It suffered severe trauma to the head and chest.

Mr Teo is upset that the van occupants did not stop to help and feels they must take responsibility and be punished accordingly.

AWARENESS NEEDED

Motorist William Neo, 28, was unaware that the penalty for hit-and-run cases is the same for both humans and animals.

The project coordinator feels that motorists need to be better educated on road rules.

He said: 'Most people would probably think hitting an animal is much less serious than hitting a person.

'Informing motorists of the consequences would make them think twice about driving off after hitting an animal.'

The SPCA said that when pets are injured in road accidents, the owners should alert the SPCA and try to move the animals to the side of the road.

But those with little experience in handling animals should not try to pick them up. They should wait for SPCA staff members to arrive, while alerting motorists to slow down and drive cautiously - the traffic police will generally assist in this area.

This article was first published in The New Paper on June 13, 2008.

 

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