CCTV footage posted online plainly showed the man – now identified as British national Mervyn Harding, originally from Plymouth – pulling up on his motorbike and retrieving a weapon from under the motorbike seat. He then walked up to the dog and repeatedly hit it, entirely unprovoked. He then took off on his motorbike.
Outrage was instant online, with many people calling for at least the same treatment to be meted out to the Rawai expat. Some people called for even harsher punishment.
If this man were caught and found guilty of the same act in his homeland, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the latest animal welfare legislation in England and Wales, penalties for neglect and cruelty include fines of up to £20,000, a maximum jail term of 51 weeks and in some circumstances a lifetime ban on keeping pets.
That’s a maximum fine of up to more than B767,000, and in the land of animal welfare one could easily expect some further penance ordered by the judge.
But under the Thai Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animals Act, which came into force in 2014, while penalties do allow for prison terms of up to two years, fines are limited to no more than B40,000.
Swift action by the police saw Harding on Wednesday arraigned for animal cruelty and several counts of trespass, and now behind bars in the detention cells at Phuket Provincial Court with the prospect of posting bail denied.
Regardless, social media has likely served greater justice than the wheels of the legal system is likely to do here. Harding has been now publicly exposed by the community, leaving even his social options limited. It would be more disturbing if his attitude became more cavalier. His friends, too, must now weigh their options in being publicly associated with him.
The attack also galvanised our community, with people from a wide range of nationalities deploring the attack as despicable. The response was uniform: the attack was simply unacceptable. And that’s the opinion strongly expressed by a community whose tolerance has been tempered by all the enraging issues that come with living here.
The message was clear and simple – we don’t want this behaviour in our community.