Failure to enforce animal abuse laws in Caribbean

- Photo courtesy Pixabay
- Photo courtesy Pixabay

THE EDITOR: A few Barbadian animal welfare organisations recently renewed their call for the government to enforce animal abuse legislation. And asserting that they are not satisfied that animal abuse is being taken as a serious crime in Barbados, one of the groups is seeking judicial review of a case in which a 28-year-old man was earlier this year given probation after admitting to animal cruelty which led to his dog’s death.

The Be Their Voice organisation insisted that it wants to ensure someone in Barbados is fully penalised for animal injustice instead of getting a slap on the wrist. Members of the group, with the support of representatives from Action for Animals Barbados, The Horse Charity and Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary, made the plea for animal abuse to be taken more seriously.

This failure to enforce animal abuse laws is one that characterises every Caribbean nation, and thus the call by the Barbadian organisations is one that resonates across the Caribbean. It’s almost as if Caribbean people do not see animals as living things, capable, as humans are, of feeling pain and hurt. And the politicians and law enforcement agencies treat the laws as words on paper and little else.

Incidentally, no Caribbean nation is listed on the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index, a project of Voiceless, an animal protection organisation based in Australia, and a team of animal welfare advocates from around the world. Voiceless does indicate that “It’s hard to find comprehensive information on the legality of animal cruelty throughout the world,” which would be the case with respect to the Caribbean.

As well, where they exist, laws do not seem to be stringent enough nor comprehensive and advanced. For example, Jamaica’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1904 was last updated in 1995. The maximum fine for breaching the act is $1,000. St Kitts and Nevis's Animal Act was adopted in 1935, Dominica’s Pound Act in 1958; Grenada’s Animal Act was consolidated in 1990, Jamaica’s in 1997, Guyana’s in 1998.

In TT, “if you unlawfully and maliciously kill an animal, then the maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 or three months imprisonment.” While Anguilla has animal cruelty laws, there are no local government funds to support animal control or animal welfare

The French Caribbean has no animal cruelty laws, nor do the Netherlands Antilles, which occupy the third place on the world list of countries where animal abuse is common.

Across the Caribbean animals are routinely neglected and abused, oftentimes abandoned, and treated like disposables, especially when sick or old.

However, acknowledgement and kudos must be given to many animal angels across the Caribbean, individuals and NOGs who give of their time, resources, compassion, passionate care and efforts to the culture of wanton animal cruelty and abuse and to rescue abused and abandoned animals and care for them.

Among these numerous people and entities are the various national societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals that operate with shoestring budgets and the willing support of medical personnel and volunteers.

Animal abuse leads to aggressive and antisocial behaviour. It is also a reliable predictor of violence against people. Researchers have connected children’s abuse of animals to bullying, aggression, school shootings and sexual abuse. Yet the fact remains that when we learn to care for our animals, we become a more compassionate, less violent people and those traits eventually characterise our communities and society.



"Failure to enforce animal abuse laws in Caribbean"

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