Trinidad and Tobago
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Animal rights laws badly needed

Letters to the Editor

THE EDITOR: Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Based on this premise, we can conclude that our society is regressing and weak.

It is unfortunate that in 2023 animals are still treated barbarically by people in TT. Our society is a violent one and this is especially evident in the way we treat our stray animals.

While a cluster of animal activists focuses solely on the banning of fireworks, I choose to see the bigger issue at hand. There is a need for more legislation as it pertains to animal rights. Rescuers, shelters and animal lovers are overworked, overwhelmed and tired.

We have a lot of selfish people in our country. What kind of person dumps an animal on the side of the road where they can be hit by a vehicle or die of dehydration or hunger? These types of people take for granted that "somebody will pick it up."

Do you know how hard it is to pick up an animal whose trust has been broken? Do you know how dejected and scared these creatures are when approached by a human? Can you imagine living on the streets where people maliciously hurt you?

It is not expensive to spay or neuter your dog. In our society people spend more on alcohol. Our society has become selfish. Anyone found dumping or abusing animals, or neglecting their pets, should be charged hefty fines or face incarceration. And while laws look pretty on paper, they must be enforced. The police have an active role to play in enforcement the law.

American-bred dogs and cats such as huskies and Persians have found themselves at local pet stores. Pet shops do not require a licence to import dogs and cats. The law only outlines a licence for the import of birds, insects and reptiles. These imported breeds do not belong here.

Initially, huskies were treated as a luxury commodity and now they are becoming strays. These dogs are severely disadvantaged by our climate. Why are they here? Why isn’t the Government banning the import of these animals?

There are people who are breeding these “luxury” dogs and selling them to make a quick dollar. Imported breeds represent wealth as everyone knows they are “expensive dogs.” They are purchased to portray a certain class. Where does that leave our local dogs?

Animal activists have been working relentlessly to save dogs from the San Fernando dog pound. The city corporation is no stranger to euthanising animals, in some cases pets. In 2023, the dog pound is still euthanising animals instead of trying to rehome them.

Why do we even have a dog pound? Why are healthy, beautiful dogs being put down because they don’t fit some unrealistic aesthetic that the corporation is trying to achieve? How inhumane are those involved? What kind of vet puts down an animal who is healthy?

As a pet owner, I am very wary of who tends to my animals. My vet has rehomed many dogs who were being "put down" by their owners. How are we so ignorant of an animal’s right to life? Who are we to decide if a healthy, living creature gets to live? Who gives us the right to decide that an animal population needs to be controlled by killing?

It says a lot about us as a society and it says even more about those who are in charge. Our society has a blatant disregard for life. People disregard their own lives and the lives of others. Who are the animals? We need stronger laws and mandates and these laws need to be enforced.

There have been multiple reports of stray cats and dogs being poisoned and killed at various business establishments and there are no laws or penalties to address this. Businesses should be fined up to $100,000 if animals are poisoned on their compound, and that money should be equally distributed to the non-profit, non-government animal shelters.

Those businesses should also be mandated to donate food and sponsor spay-and-neuter drives. Only then would a difference be made. These businesses can make a difference if they adopt a kind approach to stray animals. A lot of groceries prepare meats and food to sell. It costs nothing to feed them the food that is thrown away. Cats and dogs don’t consume chow alone.

Why not donate chow that is close to expiry to the shelters? Why is no one trying to take the initiative? Why is no one trying to make a difference? We all can make a difference to an animal in need. It costs nothing to be kind to them and treat them as living beings. You do not know the difference you can make in their lives by simply being kind. Be the change. Kindness has a way of coming back to you when you are in need.


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