SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - For about 1½ hours on Sunday (Oct 23), they searched desperately for Sayang, a dog that had bolted into the jungle after a hit-and-run accident in Pasir Ris.
About 10 animal shelter volunteers spread out, covering a nearby forested area and construction site calling out for the injured dog.
But when they spotted Sayang in a drain, it ran off again.
The dog finally responded to the call of its close companion, Mr Ong Ren Qin, 27, and returned to the Animal Lovers League (ALL) shelter in Pasir Ris Farmway 3.
Sayang’s saga went viral on Sunday after two Facebook posts made by ALL and its volunteer, Ms Lixin Tan, alleged that the female driver who ran over the dog told another volunteer that “it’s just a dog” and uttered an expletive before driving off.
The posts each gleaned over 4,000 and 15,000 shares.
The accident occurred at around 10.45am, after the unleashed dog slipped through the shelter’s open gate, where volunteers were congregating before their weekly walks with the dogs.
ALL co-founder Cathy Strong told The New Paper “He’s always been very impatient and just couldn’t wait his turn and slipped out unnoticed. He likes leading the pack.”
A witness who wanted to be known as Ms Zheng, 22, said that Sayang wanted to cross the road back to the shelter when it was hit.
Ms Zheng said: “I saw the car slowing down, so Sayang continued crossing but the car did not stop. He was underneath for about 2 to 3 seconds and I shouted for the car to stop.”
When it stopped, Sayang managed to free itself from under the car and dashed towards a nearby construction area.
Ms Zheng gave chase but could only see a glimpse of Sayang running into big pipes.
The driver told a volunteer “it’s just a dog”, before uttering an expletive, said Ms Zheng.
The driver stopped for about a minute before driving off.
Volunteer Perle Ng, 21, said: “The volunteer (who was told off) asked the driver to wait while she got Cathy who was in the shelter. The driver told her she would wait.”
That volunteer crossed the road to Ms Ng’s side, and told her to keep an eye on the car.
But the woman drove off soon after.
Recounting the search, Ms Ng said: “He (Sayang) ran into the bushes where it was cordoned off for some construction work. Someone found Sayang in a drain during the search but he ran away again. It was quite hard because the bushes were tall and thick.”
Mr Ong joined the search at 11.30am but headed back to the shelter after about 40 minutes later.
He said: “I started searching at a construction site beside our shelter. We marched through the tall grass and branches but I had a feeling that Sayang was not in those bushes, so I decided to head back to the shelter as Sayang will definitely be waiting for me if he hears my voice.”
He was plagued with worry during the search.
“He is very close to me. We are like best friends — he will respond to me when I call for him, he will sit beside me if I sit in the shelter, he will be the first to welcome me whenever I visit the shelter. He is a wonderful and clever dog.”
Sayang appeared 10 to 15m away from the shelter’s entrance at about 12.15pm.
“I felt relieved when I finally saw him, and he did not appear in a very bad state. I ran after him and he just walked slowly until he sat outside his zone’s gate, waiting for me to open it.”
There were bloodstains around his mouth.
Ms Strong said that after the accident, Sayang appeared visibly traumatised, panting heavily even though it could move about.
Sayang has not been eating and was referred to a veterinarian that night. It is on a drip and will stay there until it starts eating.
Despite that, Ms Strong is confident of Sayang’s recovery.
“He should be okay. He’s a tough boy, and a fat one at that so I think his body mass will prevent too many broken bones.”
Police investigations are ongoing.
Motorists must help if they hit an animal
Motorists are required to help when they hit and injure an animal.
Animals, according to Section 84 of the Road Traffic Act, are horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs.
Failure to stop and help would result in a fine not exceeding $3,000, or a jail term not exceeding 12 months.
Lawyer Satwant Singh said: “It is our duty to stop in the event of an accident. It’s not just whether or not (a motorist) should, but it is his duty.
“People may think that running over a dog won’t matter, but that is actually an offence. So motorists must stop at all time during an accident, even those involving animals.”
Mr Singh said: “The driver shall render assistance and lodge a police report within 24 hours of the accident if the owner of the animal cannot be located or is not at the scene of the accident.”