Things to break a nation's heart


Her body was stiff with terror as the man snatched her from the safety of her home. Laughing, he suspended her by the legs and, with full force, swung her petite body, slamming her head against a tree trunk. Death was instant.

The killer’s accomplice, standing a few feet away, also laughed while filming the barbaric act for social media.

This true story occurred recently in Trinidad. However, despite the shocking nature of the killing, it was not reported.

Why? The victim was an agouti.

Prior to knowing the victim’s species, many of you were perhaps mortified, hesitant to read further...perceiving "her" to be a human.

"Phew! Is only a 'gouti!" some might be saying now, possibly drooling at the thought of a bubbling pot of wild meat stew.

The video of the abovementioned act, featured on Facebook, shows a man (surrounded by several hungry, barking hounds) aggressively pulling an agouti from a hole in a tree. As he laughingly slams the petrified animal’s head against the tree trunk, his chuckling assistant shines a torch and films – lights, camera, action!

Most of the comments on that video were from highly amused people. Apart from a few comments in the agouti’s defence, it seemed from the thread that no one else had noticed that a living creature had just been violently slammed to death.

The majority most likely did not perceive the agouti as a living being that (like us) experiences terror and pain. They undoubtedly saw it just as meat – “food for de cook-up” – meant to be killed, regardless of method.


Those commenting on the video laughed and joked about the dogs being hungry, untrained and more desperate for the “’gouti” than the man was. Their blatant lack of acknowledgement of the brutal killing confirmed what I (and others) believe to be one of the various factors contributing to the increasingly inhumane nature of our society – the perpetration and acceptance of violence against animals as "normal"..."laughable fun"..."part of we culture."

We live in a country where three men can hang an innocent dog from a tree, laughing as it writhes and screams until its last breath while filming the action (to upload to social media)...and then easily get off with a $400 fine each, a slap on the wrist.

In "sweet TT" there are men who feed terrified live pothounds to their rabid pitbulls and film the carnage for social media. I know of concerned citizens who have reported such cases, showing the gruesome videos as evidence to the police, only to be told: “We can’t do anything.”

In our tropical "paradise" innocent animals are poisoned, chopped and otherwise unthinkably abused or killed – too frequently. Despite amendments made in 2020 to the Summary Offences Act there has been no enforcement of the revised laws against animal cruelty. Offenders who have abused and killed animals remain untouched, the we-can’t-do-anything mantra echoing in the wake of their senseless actions.

On and before nights of national celebration, citizens relentlessly explode fireworks in residential areas, traumatising many people and (sometimes to the point of death) countless animals. To this day, almost two months after Old Year’s Night, basic lack of consideration for others persists in the "bussing" of fireworks and bamboo throughout various parts of Trinidad. Accounts of these explosions are documented with disturbing frequency on the Ban Fireworks in Trinidad & Tobago Facebook page. Many citizens long for nights to be as silent as the police are in response to numerous reports of these "warzones."

This is not just about "animals." TT desperately needs to have more compassion for and sensitivity to the life (and end-of-life) experience of all beings – including those regarded by many as "food." How we collectively treat "all creatures, great and small" determines the overall ethos of our society.

Lack of enforcement of laws against ongoing animal cruelty sends the repeated message that terror and torture meted out to other living beings is acceptable.

This is a disturbing thought in light of a growing body of research indicating that people who violently abuse and kill other animals are likely to be dangerous to humans.

Why was it so easy to think that my first paragraph sounded as if it was about the abduction and killing of a human female? Why would you not be surprised to see such a story as tomorrow’s headline?


"Things to break a nation’s heart"

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