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JSPCA files cruelty complaint against US Rusal for starving cows

The Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) has filed a police complaint citing 300 counts of neglect against UC Rusal after cattle at the bauxite company’s Manchester farms were found starving.

JSPCA Managing Director Pamela Lawson visited the Williamsfield Police Station in the parish, where she formally made allegations of mass cruelty.

The animal-rights lobby uncovered the crisis last week Wednesday and reported it to the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which dispatched a team to investigate the following day.

“The majority of the calves were in a bad condition when I saw them last week, and I know for a fact that there was no food at the time, and I am being kind if I only charge them with 300 counts,” Lawson told The Gleaner.

The filing of the complaint coincided with a visit on Tuesday to two of the company’s cattle farms by a team comprising members of the Veterinary Services Division and the Jamaica Dairy Development Board, which has been providing feed and nutrients to the animals since the situation came to light.

During the visit, consultant veterinarian Dr Kevin C. Walker noted that significantly much more was needed to address the situation. He advised against relocating the animals because they might undergo additional stress in being loaded into vehicles.

While some of the pastures on which cattle were present appeared to be overgrazed to dirt surface, others were overgrown with weeds and acacia trees.

At least one calf suffered with an infection and old cows that reportedly should have long been culled were still in the herd.

During the tour, company representative Maxim Loysev disclosed that UC Rusal has a total of 1,763 dairy cattle on all its farms.

Meanwhile, Lawson noted that while the sanctions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act are minimal, the action taken will have more than token effect.

“We need to make an example that it is not going to be tolerated, and what I saw last week Wednesday was totally unacceptable. Every area I went to last Wednesday had fresh water, so I know that the staff on the ground are doing what they can, but if you don’t have access to food.

“They have some green pastures, but these are not being used, and you have these animals grazing on dirt,” Lawson said.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Increase Penalties) Bill 2020, fines range from $200 to $3,000, with sentences running for as long as two years.