The pile of skin and bones was just visible in the rock and dirt at the foot of the palm tree. Jason Jairam could make out the shape of a small dog, maybe four months old. A chain tied to the tree hung loose around its emaciated neck. It had been dead, he figured, for at least two weeks.
Around 10 yards away, cowering in the shade of a neighboring palm tree, was another puppy – skinny, malnourished and dehydrated, awaiting the same fate.
In 10 years at the Humane Society, shelter manager Mr. Jairam cannot recall a single incident where someone has been prosecuted for animal cruelty or neglect. If ever there was a prosecutable case of animal abuse, he says, this is it.
Mr. Jairam has seen some horrific incidents in his time, but none worse than the scene he witnessed Friday when he was called to a home in Prospect following a police raid.
“There is no way to describe what I saw. It was like something from a horror movie,” he said.
“This dog was basically chained to a tree and starved to death. If the police hadn’t been called to the house for a search warrant, the other dog would probably have died too.
“This is the worst case of neglect I have seen in the Cayman Islands and it should be brought to the courts and prosecuted.”
The dogs were discovered after the police Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force swooped on a home in Prospect and arrested Jonathan Welcome on Friday. The 22-year-old is suspected of pulling an imitation gun on police in a standoff in George Town a week earlier. He was charged with related offences on Monday, while police said they had arrested a woman and child on suspicion of aiding and abetting him.
It is understood that the house raided by police did not belong to Mr. Welcome and there is no suggestion that it was his dog.
Mr. Jairam said the Humane Society would be pressing charges and seeking a criminal prosecution against whoever was responsible. He said the Department of Agriculture, which ordinarily has the responsibility for enforcing the animal laws, had been too slow in the past to seek prosecution of offenders.
“I have been at the Humane Society for 10 years and I have seen all kinds of abuse, but I have never seen or heard of anyone being prosecuted. I think a lot of people think they can get away with it.” Spreading his fingers wide to illustrate its expansiveness, he said, “The Animals Law is this thick, but there is no one enforcing it.
Until someone is prosecuted people will continue to think they can get away with it.”
He said the Humane Society has no authority to go on to people’s property and confiscate animals or to enforce any of the Animal Laws. He said the Agriculture Department has that responsibility, but has been “too lenient” in investigating or enforcing the laws.
Nonetheless, he says, the Humane Society is there to do its part. If someone had reported this incident sooner, they would have been able to help.
“In this case the neighbors are almost as much to blame. The dogs would have been out there in the sun, starving for weeks and nobody called us or anyone else to report it. [T]hey were chained up in full view of the neighboring properties.”
A police spokesman confirmed the find and said officers were making inquiries in conjunction with the Humane Society into the circumstances.
The Humane Society is hoping for a happy ending for the surviving puppy, named Lennie, which means “brave lion.”
“He is starting to put on weight and is doing well. He is a fantastic puppy, he just needs love.”
The puppy is up for adoption at the Humane Society shelter, which can be reached on 949-1461.