Nate Bartling was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is an American. He is 19 years of age. He was a missionary for two years. He planned to go to university but decided to travel and is now settled in Thailand and speaks the language fluently.
He has a source of income other than from advertising on YouTube. He is a successful video blogger. He makes prankster style videos. He tries to keep them wholesome and decent. However, he has gone too far. Well, he has gone too far according to animal and cat lovers in Thailand.
He made a video which you can see on this page in which he pits scorpion versus a cat or cats. Mr Bartling provides the usual high-intensity commentary. I have not watched the entire video but just the beginning of it.
The administrator of the website Kingdom of Tigers which is popular with cat owners and animal lovers filed a complaint at a police station against Nate Bartling accusing him of engaging in cruelty against animals by exposing his own cats to a venomous arachnid.
You can tell me whether you think he has committed an animal cruelty offence. The caretaker superintendent of the local police station accepted the complaint and watched the video. He decided that Mr Bartling has committed an offence under their animal cruelty laws.
Note: if this video disappears you’ll know why! The fact that it is still on the Internet and being viewed by a lot of people indicates that Mr Bartling is not concerned with a potential prosecution. It would also indicate that the authorities are unconcerned as well.
If he is prosecuted and convicted he could face a jail term of up to 2 years or a maximum fine of Bt 40,000 or both.
This must be a crushing mistake for Mr Bartling. As stated, he has nurtured good relationships with the Thai authorities because he is settled there. He wants to be a good citizen. He does not want hassle. He does not want to be deported. Clearly, by learning the language so fluently he has indicated that he does wish to integrate and be a good Thai citizen. He has made a mistake and it is interesting that the mistake concerns cats. It does indicate that he has a less than sensitive attitude towards animals and domestic cats.
He clearly failed to see the issues with what he created. He failed to recognise how it would be perceived by others. The person who filed a complaint, the administrator of the above mentioned website, Nutch Prasopsin, argues that she does not want people who watch the video to believe that it is acceptable.
Mr Bartling claims that his pet scorpion is not poisonous. This is his defence. Nutch disputes this. She claims that all veterinarians would state that scorpions have venom.
There is a petition on the Change.org website seeking legal action against Mr Bartling. It has drawn 52,000 supporters. The goal is 75,000 supporters.
The video concerned has been viewed over 800,000 times. Mr Bartling has 3.1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. He has 900,000 followers on Facebook.
Clearly, prankster style videos which are popular these days together with high-intensity presentation can backfire and this is one such example. My feeling is that the video is a form of cat abuse and therefore animal cruelty. It depends on the country’s animal welfare laws if this is a crime in Thailand. I would expect him to be let off this time with a caution.