The wheels of justice are turning for Dora, the dog burned in last week’s animal cruelty case. Representatives of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the Department of Agriculture have contacted the Cayman Islands Humane Society in the interest of furthering their investigation.
As of press time, no charges had been filed in relation to the incident, and it is still too soon to know what will ultimately happen to Dora. She is currently resting and recovering at the Humane Society, and it’s not known whether she will stay there or be returned to the home where she was allegedly injured.
Adrian Estwick, director of the Department of Agriculture, said in an email that custody of Dora will be decided at some point in the future.
“Once the RCIPS conclude their investigation, decisions will then be taken. If the matter proceeds to court, the latter will decide what ultimately happens,” he said. “Please remember that this matter is currently under active investigation and as such it is premature to assume what will happen. … However, the Department of Agriculture will work closely with RCIPS and render assistance as needed.”
Dora was found burned around her abdomen and taken to Island Veterinary Services on Saturday for emergency surgery. She may not be the only dog at risk. Cayman 27 reported that another dog is housed at the same location where Dora was injured. Mr. Estwick said Tuesday that he had not been apprised of that fact, but that the Department of Agriculture would look into whether the home is suitable.
The Department of Agriculture is responsible for plant health, agronomy, livestock production, agriculture sector development and animal health, in addition to animal welfare and control, and Mr. Estwick said witnesses to animal abuse can make reports either directly or anonymously.
Animal rights advocate Taura Ebanks has begun a petition to draw more attention to animal abuse and she has targeted the RCIPS and Department of Agriculture to take the issue more seriously. More than 1,400 people have signed so far, but Ms. Ebanks does not have a specific target number in mind.
“I’m not trying to do a people’s triggered referendum. That for me is not the goal,” she said. “The laws are already there. I’m not championing for legislation. I’m not asking to put laws in. I’m saying there are existing laws. … The signatures only represent the fact that there are all these voices that want the same thing.
“Your government is supposed to represent the will of the people. And as far as I can see, the government also has a responsibility in monitoring the level of lawfulness or lawlessness. I’m not saying, ‘Government, will you please help us?’ I’m saying, ‘Government, you need to do your job.’”
Ms. Ebanks said she will wait to present the petition until after the May 24 election, and she has not tailored her draft with any one incident in mind. She wants to change the mindset of local citizens and educate them that harming an animal is the kind of crime that needs to be taken seriously.
The petition aims to be a “Voice for the Voiceless,” and Ms. Ebanks knows that she won’t convince everybody overnight. But with her effort – and with the support of perhaps thousands of people adding their voices to hers – she believes that eventually there can be systemic change on Cayman.
“I think a lot of people are frustrated and think if you get to a certain number, things are going to change,” she said. “Unfortunately, nothing is going to change. Once or twice a year, something horrific happens and people get very emotive and very distraught and they demand action. Within weeks or months, they walk away and their lives continue. When we do this, we’re giving animals a temporary voice. We need to channel our emotions and keep the conversation going and keep the topic alive.”