The recent discovery of the charred body of a dog, dumped at a construction site, is grim business indeed.
As is the series of violent assaults on docile riding ponies at the Equestrian Center in George Town – one resulting in the death of 25-year-old pony Charm … As is, too, the untold number of cases of animal abuse, cruelty and neglect that occur in the Cayman Islands on a regular basis, the perpetrators of which are rarely, if ever, arrested, prosecuted and convicted.
Considered in the context of our country’s out-of-control fauna (for example, the 500,000-strong horde of green iguanas, the roaming populations of stray dogs and feral cats, and the invasion of non-native scorpions, millipedes and other creepy-crawlies), it seems that it is long overdue that the government develop a comprehensive policy on animal issues – and puts into place the operational wherewithal to implement it.
The weakness of those charitable efforts are that they are “charitable.” When it comes to getting at the root of deep societal issues such as the lack of basic respect for a life form, or the lack of accountability for destructive actions against animals, Cayman’s charities “have no teeth.”
The government, on the other hand, particularly police and prosecutors, have plenty of teeth — sharp ones, but for some inexplicable reason, they are not using them.
In addition to the apparent lack of will among authorities to pursue convictions against people for harming animals, or to hold people accountable for their pets’ behavior, the government seems to be hindered by its own sprawling bureaucracy, with poorly defined boundaries of responsibility and inefficient allocation of public resources.
Consider the subject of today’s story in the Compass, the burned body of a dog that has sparked renewed calls for government to enforce its animal cruelty law (and has led to the creation of yet another charitable group, called “Cayman Animal’s Watchdog” to encourage people to report animal abuse). A primary object of people’s anger and frustration is the Department of Agriculture, which has an animal welfare officer, but is charged with collecting abandoned animals and euthanizing hundreds of dogs and cats every year.
The minimal resources brought to bear on this runaway problem are testimony to the low priority our officials place on this growing issue. Might it be a candidate for privatization in concert with other recommendations of the Ernst & Young Report?
In regard to the eradication of green iguanas, shouldn’t the Department of Agriculture be more involved? Or is that more suitably within the purview of the Department of Environment? Presently, of course, after the iguanas are culled, the Department of Environmental Health then steps in to oversee the disposal of their carcasses. All of this is far too bureaucratic and, frankly, far too ineffective.
If there is any hope of tackling Cayman’s ubiquitous problems with animals, someone with power, probably in the Legislative Assembly, must take definitive command of the situation. It may not be a glamorous assignment, but it is an essential one for a problem that is getting increasingly worse.