On January 9, an act of premeditated theriocide, resulting in the death of 18 victims, was committed in Trinidad. On a phone video recording made by a concerned citizen (who knew two of the deceased intimately), the perpetrator confessed to the wilful application of the toxin that caused the deaths.
Springer Professional defines theriocide as: "...those diverse human actions that cause the deaths of animals. Like the killing of one human by another (eg homicide, infanticide and femicide), a theriocide may be socially acceptable or unacceptable, legal or illegal. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may involve active maltreatment or passive neglect."
Poisoning of animals is accepted as "normal" in Trinidad and Tobago and is widely overlooked as being inconsequential because animals are perceived as "lesser beings."
Nothing about the premeditated, malicious act of taking a life (animal or human) is normal or acceptable. Neither is the perfunctory attitude of police to reports made in this capacity.
The day after the theriocide, the concerned citizen (let’s call her CC) made a police report.
At police station 1, the officer seemed not very keen on taking the report. He informed CC that it was not a chargeable offence, that her two videos (documenting confession) were not acceptable evidence and that a toxicology report was required to prove that the bodies were poisoned. He showed no interest in investigating further, as he would have done had this been a homicide.
Why waste time? This was just two pet dogs and 16 birds.
CC proceeded to police station 2.
“De dogs done dead already,” the officer told her.
Confused and frustrated by this unbelievable, yet, sadly, not surprising statement, CC turned to leave. Fortunately, two senior officers who had been looking on, called "de dog done dead" officer over, seemingly to advise on the manner in which the situation should be treated.
More pointed questions were asked and a superior officer, apparently more versed on the subject, was contacted by phone. In the ensuing back and forth, the officers seemed mostly concerned with the premeditative nature of the poisoning, in particular, that the accused had purchased the Lannate with which he had soaked the bread.
Homicide would demand swift attention and action. Theriocide is treated with scant courtesy or dismissal. Even if the life/death of animals is not considered "important enough" by the average local law-enforcement agents, at least consider that too many people in TT have unregulated access to poison and can (and do) use it premeditatively to end lives.
A veterinarian gave me details on what occurs when an animal ingests Lannate, an easily-acquired insecticide used locally on vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, to kill crop-eating worms:
“Carbamate, also known commonly as Lannate, can be used to taint food for the malicious intent of harming of animals…not only dogs. There are cats and cows and pigs that are also harmed by carbamate.
"Mainly what is seen is hypersecretion of the body. Hypersecretion can be displayed through salivation, lacrimation (which means that you will be seeing tears coming from the animal’s eyes), vomiting, increased urination and diarrhoea – secretion from all orifices of the body. In humans we would see sweating; in dogs not.
"There are convulsions or seizures and in severe cases, the animal will become paralysed. There is heavy and rapid breathing and after a while the respiratory muscles become tired, the bronchioles that carry air to and from the lungs become constricted and the animal dies from respiratory failure. When cats or dogs lick carbamate, they may come running to you pawing at the mouth, salivating and shaking.
"If this happens, you are to immediately open the animal's mouth and flush it with a hose. Use some salt water and wash out the mouth or use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting.”
Dismissing such a slow, torturous death with the usual "it’s just an animal" or "animals are not the same as humans" is counterproductive to our possible evolution towards becoming a compassionate, humane society that recognises and honours the importance of life of all sentient beings. Consider the UK, where, as part of a new law, even octopuses, squids and lobsters stand to be recognised as sentient beings with rights to consideration of their welfare.
Why hasn’t TT’s Attorney General drafted a law to control the selling of poisons and severely limit their accessibility to the general public? People use these poisons to kill not only animals but themselves and each other.