Murder victims' family: 'We will take care of dog'

The house on Williams Street in San Juan where a man and his daughter was shot dead on Wednesday night. Photo by Sureash Cholai
The house on Williams Street in San Juan where a man and his daughter was shot dead on Wednesday night. Photo by Sureash Cholai

AMONG the hundreds of people mourning the deaths of Elliot and Sarah Veerasammy, who were killed on Wednesday night at their home on Williams Street, Aranguez, very few have felt the pain of their deaths more than their family dog, Meg.

Meg, a two-year-old mixed-breed dog, was said to have been with the father and daughter in their last moments when gunmen stormed into the house and shot them both. Now, relatives are saying the dog, having lost her companion, seems to be in a depressed state, but they promise to take care of the dog and watch over her as she grieves.

“When we came back to the house, Meg was still inside,” said a relative “She came to the door and greeted us, then went back into the living room. We tried to feed her, but she would not eat.”

Although it is sometimes difficult to decipher the feelings of a pet, a change in behaviour is a key indicator that the dog is experiencing grief and depression. According to a report from last year on the American Kennel Club’s website, loss of appetite is one of the main signs that a dog may be depressed, along with listlessness, loss of interest in physical activity, weight loss and a lack of energy.

Sources at the Animal Welfare Network told Newsday Meg’s reaction to the sudden and violent deaths of her owners was expected, especially because of the way they were killed.

“The dog’s life revolves around its human family, especially if the dog is fortunate enough to be regarded as a member of the family and well treated,” said Pat Green of the Animal Welfare Network. “And to find herself first of all very frightened – because she may have even witnessed the murder – then to be around the bodies of her master and mistress and finding them unresponsive, it must have been very frightening, but that would be the initial reaction.”

Green added that even when an owner dies naturally, pets would grieve, but if they realise their owner suddenly isn’t there any more, it becomes very difficult for them to understand, even with other family members present. She added that dogs, like people grieve differently. If the person who dies has been sick for a while, they may understand what happened and would be able manage their loss better than if their owners were suddenly taken from them.

The advice Green gave on this situation was also similar to the advice one would give to a human family helping another human being with grief. She said families should allow the dog to work out its emotions mostly for itself, but also to give it with extra care and love, even if it doesn’t respond to it at first, and she will recover much like humans do.

“The best outcome would be if she remains with the family,” Green said.

Newsday was told Elliot and Sarah’s relatives have already arranged for Meg to be taken in by one of Elliot’s brothers, who knows her.

“We will take care of her,” said relatives yesterday.

On Wednesday Elliot and Sarah were in the living room of their home when gunmen stormed in and shot them several times. They died immediately.


"Murder victims’ family: ‘We will take care of dog’"

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