There is an old saying that every dog has its day, and in the case of Snowball, the dog which survived a violent machete attack last January, his day came recently in Grand Court.
The fully-recovered Snowball was not in court to witness it, but the Agriculture Department’s Animal Welfare Unit, with some help from the RCIPS and the Legal Department, won an important victory for him, and all animals in the Cayman Islands.
A West Bay man was sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined CI$1,400 for injuring an animal under Section 268 of the Penal Code. The successful prosecution of the case was the first for the Animal Welfare Unit.
Even though the convicted man’s sentence was suspended for two years, the conviction should send a clear message to residents of the Cayman Islands: Animal cruelty and abuse will not be tolerated here.
Although Snowball’s case gained widespread attention here because of the sheer viciousness of the attack and his ensuing struggle to survive, there are many other cases of animal abuse occurring here all the time that go unnoticed.
Animal abuse does not have to take the form of a brutal attack, either. It can come from doing other things that cause an animal harm, such as poisoning it, tying it up in the hot sun without water, or simply not feeding it when it’s under your control.
The great Mahatma Ghandi said that one can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals.
While the Cayman Islands has gained international recognition for its tourism product and financial services industry, it has a long way to go to be recognised as a society that has modern views on animal welfare.
The fact that the Government has set up the Animal Welfare Unit, that the RCIPS brought charges against the West Bay man, and that the Crown prosecuted the case involving Snowball’s attack, indicates the Cayman Islands is heading in the right direction when it comes to animal welfare.
Snowball’s time in Cayman was short, and he is now living more than a thousand miles away with his new owners in the United States. But his court case has set a precedent which might be felt here forever.