Hong Kong cat owner avoids jail for putting pet in washing machinejessie tan
A woman has been spared jail for trapping her cat in a washing machine as punishment for defecating on her clothes in a Hong Kong flat last year.
Insurance agent Yuki Wong Yee Ting received 80 hours of community service on a count of animal cruelty at Tuen Mun Court on Monday, after a magistrate found that the 29-year-old had abused her pet out of “momentary malevolence”.
Wong landed herself in court after posting a video on her Instagram account on Feb 7 last year, which showed her cat locked inside a spinning washing machine for 14 seconds at her flat in Tin Chak Estate in Tin Shui Wai.
The animal can be seen pressing its muzzle against the transparent lid of the top-loading machine, at which point the machine is opened and the animal immediately leaps out.
The woman laughed off the abuse with a caption claiming that it was merely a “prank” played on the animal as it had defecated where it was not supposed to.
Deputy Magistrate Henry Fung Lim Wai refused to settle the case with a fine, noting that not only had Wong turned a blind eye to her cat’s suffering, she had encouraged cruelty towards animals by sharing the video online.
But Fung accepted the probation officer’s recommendation that a short period of community service was enough to reflect Wong’s culpability and deter her from reoffending given the limited injuries suffered by the cat and the defendant’s willingness to seek help from animal trainers after the incident.
He also noted Wong’s high academic qualifications and family support in finding that the offence was inconsistent with her usual behaviours.
The magistrate also ordered Wong to pay HK$27,000 (S$4,600) in medical expenses to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
In last month’s trial, Wong sought to exonerate herself by claiming that her friend was responsible for the ill-treatment and had subsequently sent the video to her.
But she refused to disclose her friend’s full name and their relationship, adding she had moved overseas and was unable to assist in the investigation.
Wong said her cat had defecated on her clothes before the production of the video, but maintained that she was a cat lover and the Instagram post was meant to be a joke.
The magistrate dismissed her assertions, saying her purported affection for animals was contradicted by what she had done. He also found it unreasonable for Wong to remain tight-lipped during the police investigation, when she had the chance to clear her name by revealing her friend’s role in the offence before her purported emigration.
But he rejected the prosecution’s request to leave the cat in the Society’s care as the case was “not particularly serious”.
Animal cruelty is punishable by up to three years behind bars. The defendant is the elder sister of the 2019 Miss Hong Kong, Carmaney Wong Ka-man.