It was a late night and we were making our rounds at one of the industrial estates where the strays lived and played. When they saw us coming, the strays ran out to meet us. Those who were unafraid came a little nearer and waited patiently for their dinner while the others kept their distance and only ran forward hungrily to their food once we walked away.
Most of the times the strays are smart enough to avoid humans and traffic. They keep an eye out for moving traffic and know how to get out of the way. Not so for this particular stray, who was unfortunate to be at the wrong place and at the wrong time. She was attempting to cross the mostly quiet street when a speeding lorry suddenly appeared and slammed into the poor stray dog. The impact was so strong that everyone could hear the unmistakable thud of metal hitting body. The stray’s yelp of pain pierced through the night.
Three of our volunteers witnessed it as it happened and yelled for the lorry to stop. The lorry driver ignored them and continued driving, inevitably rolling over the dog. We could hear the body hitting against the undercarriage of the lorry four times.
We shouted and waved but the lorry driver feigned ignorance. One of our volunteers bravely jumped in front of the lorry to stop it from leaving the scene of accident. The driver had no choice but to stop his vehicle. In a rage, she banged her hands against the door of the lorry and shouted at the driver to get out. He stared at her apathetically and remained in his seat.
By the time the lorry stopped, the poor stray had gone from being hit by the front of the lorry, rolled under the undercarriage, rolled under the lorry, being hit by all sorts of metal objects attached to the lorry’s undercarriage and then rolled out from the back of the lorry. Imagine a speeding chunk of metal weighing about 3,000 kg hits you and sends you flying before you hit the ground. To add to the agony, the same lorry rolls over you not once, but twice, while you lie there unable to do anything to stop it. Imagine the fear and agony running through your mind as all this is happening to you. A mere 3 seconds and it is over but the world has suddenly tilted and fallen around you.
That was what happened to the stray dog. Behind the lorry, it laid there crying in pain and trauma. Two of the volunteers rushed to the injured dog to try to help it but she picked herself up and limped across the road, crying as she ran back into her factory, her safe haven. Another volunteer took photographs of the lorry, its drivers, the location of the accident and the license plate number. Strangely, this lorry did not have the company details painted on the side of it. Another volunteer called the police.
A crowd of foreign workers stood around us as they watched the commotion. We did not know if anyone of them saw the accident as it happened but none of them said or did anything.
The volunteers moved to block the lorry so that it did not try to move away. One of the volunteers opened the driver’s door, turned off his engine and asked him to step out of his lorry. A brave thing to do, but we were afraid that he might just take the opportunity to drive away. Both driver and passenger tried to ignore us at first but we were insistent. They finally did so reluctantly, smiling as they did so. We did not want to even guess what he thought was worth smiling about when something so tragic had just happened. We asked if they saw the dog and they claimed that they did not see it. We asked why he did not stop the lorry when he hit the dog but continued rolling over it, he did not have an answer to that.
We waited for the police to arrive, thinking that perhaps something could be done. It took them an hour and 4 phone calls later, to get to the scene of the accident. One of the police officers took down our statement of what had occurred. The image of the dog’s brown body rolling under a moving lorry was firmly stuck in our minds. He asked if we had any pictures of the dog’s body under the lorry but we didn’t. It happened too fast for us to do anything more than to shout at the lorry to stop. The officer mentioned that without any photographic evidence of the dog being under the lorry, it was difficult to pin a case on the driver.
We were shocked beyond words. Didn’t the eye witness account of three people matter? If the dog’s body hadn’t rolled out from the back because of the lorry driver’s refusal to stop until someone jumped in front of the lorry, were we supposed to have left the dog’s body under the lorry? We didn’t understand the logic behind the officer’s comment.
After taking our statements, the police took down the driver’s statement. The passenger however was nowhere to be found. In all the excitement, he must have taken the opportunity to slip away in the crowd of foreign workers who were watching the commotion.
As the officer took our statement, two volunteers ran into factories in search of the injured dog. After many rounds of asking, they found her, drenched in her own pee from fear, trembling, tears in her eyes, abrasions on her face, legs, undersides, paw pads torn off from being dragged on the rough road surface and in all that pain, her caregiver, a Thai worker, hugged her and held her in his arms.
The dog suffered internal injuries and abrasions on many parts of the body, which must have been from the impact of being hit and rolling under the lorry. She was covered with patches of oil from the lorry. The poor dog was in such shock and pain that she was shaking from the encounter, and her cry in the consult room was chilling and pitiful. X-rays and blood test were carried out and the vet said that her intestines have been pushed up abnormally from the impact of rolling between the hard tarmac and the lorry and estimated that it will take a month before the intestines shift back to normal position. Meanwhile, poor Pui Pui would just have to suffer the pain until it healed gradually.
The vet recommended that she be warded 3 days for observation, so we checked her in. It also turned out that Pui Pui had a guardian angel of her own. Her caregiver was a worker in that area, who earlier stepped up during the incident and wanted to follow Pui Pui to the vet out of concern. He could not bear to leave her and kept consoling her in a mix of Thai and Chinese. It was only at our promise that we will be in touch with him regarding Pui Pui that he agreed to return to his dormitory for the night. Before he left, he told her, “sleep good good”. We knew what he meant and were touched by his love for her.
|Her care-giver assuring her|
After 3 days, she was discharged and returned to her factory when she showed no further signs of being in danger. She was visibly in pain, limping as if her body still hurt from the impact. She moved her body carefully and sat at a strange angle, as if it were the only way to alleviate the pain somewhat. It was a miracle she did not have any serious injuries, considering how she was hit and subsequently rolled like a rag doll under the lorry.
Pui Pui’s bill came up to about $1200 for 3 days stay, emergency charges, X-rays and medication. If we could, we would ask the perpetrators to take responsibility for this; do we seek compensation from the irresponsible driver? Or should we approach the driver’s boss instead? Would they step up to admit that this was their wrongdoing and do what they can to make things right?
Thankfully we were there when the incident happened that we could send Pui Pui to the vet immediately. How many other strays are hit by speeding cars and lorries every day. How many are victims of hit and run accidents?
We have given our statement and photographs to the police but it is now up to them to pursue the matter. There is no point to a regulation if there is no enforcement. It has been a full week since the incident and we have yet to hear from the police. We will be surprised if we do because in the grand scheme of things, most people do not place a stray dog’s life with any priority, especially one that survived an accident. They would most likely mark this as a minor accident and file this as Unimportant.
In the new animal welfare legislation, it has been proposed that the government implement stiffer fines and jail terms for animal neglect and abuse. While all this talk may seem like change is happening, this will mean nothing if the regulations are not enforced at all. If the people equipped to enforce the law do not do so at all, what is the point of changing the rules? Despite having THREE eyewitnesses, photographs of the drivers, and an injured dog as proof, we have little confidence that anything will be done at all.
We are seeking for help with this poor stray’s medical fees. If you feel strongly about wanting to help us help this dog on its road to recovery, please contact Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note : Photographs courtesy of Eileen, Lisa and Nicholas. Poor quality of photographs as they were taken with mobile phones at night.
Written by Elaine Quek.