Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Charge the animal abusers

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In the coming days, the spotlight will be on the animals as Barbados celebrates National Animal Week. The week of activities which starts on Saturday could not have come at a better time when there is clearly a need to educate Barbadians more on the care and welfare of our animals, as well as their responsibilities as pet owners.

Too often in recent times we have read reports of cruel treatment meted out to animals by their owners. As recently as Sunday, we read a report and saw the grim pictures of emaciated cows, with their ribs showing, staked out to pasture in Cove Bay, St Lucy. The cows, about 60 of them, were starving and dehydrated.

Concerns over this distressing situation have already been raised by officer in charge of the Animal Livestock Pound Thomas Taylor and Chief inspector of the RSPCA Wayne Norville, who was investigating the situation.

The sad state of the cows attracted the attention of concerned citizen Andre Williams who saw them chained, with no grass to eat. Mr Williams has since been journeying to St Lucy every day to provide hay for the cows.

While we laud the efforts of Mr Williams and others like him who rush to the rescue of distressed animals, owners need to be held more accountable for the care of their animals, which rely on them to provide the basics like food, water, shelter, regular veterinary care, exercise, safety and even companionship.

It is horrifying that in this day, there are still owners who only see their animals as “security guards” to be kept on a tight leash, ironically, to protect their homes, and even the fruit on their trees. Sadly too, there are still animals which are caged in boxes – literally a “2×2” with little ventilation and no room to move or stretch.

It is also unfortunate that there are some who only feed their animals the scraps from their tables, leaving them hungry when there are no crumbs left.

This is a clear indictment on those who own pets as they continue to be negligent, cruel and even ignorant in the way they provide and take care of them.

It is time for Government to get tough and give more teeth to existing legislation to deal with cruelty against animals.

Barbados has a Cruelty To Animals Act, under which people could be charged for keeping their animals in poor conditions. But how many people have even been brought before the law courts to answer such charges even when clear evidence has been provided?

Some people, recognising the slow wheels of justice in dealing with this issue, have taken to Facebook to post horrifying and gruesome pictures to show the cruelty towards animals, believing this is the only way to highlight these incidents.

We implore the authorities to get tough with those who ill-treat their animals and put more bite into the legislation which could help to stamp out such cruelty.

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