This story shows images of caged dogs, which some readers may find distressing. 

A woman at the centre of what is believed to be the largest-ever animal-cruelty case in Cayman has been given a 50-day suspended sentence, 180 hours of community service, a 10-year ban on owning any animal and a $12,000 compensation order.

Appearing before the Summary Court earlier today, Sylvia Felicity Lewis confirmed to the judge that she understood the terms of her sentence.

May 2019 raid

Lewis, 56, was initially charged with five counts of animal cruelty after 53 dogs were rescued from her Prospect residence during a joint raid by the Department of Agriculture and police in May 2019. Three of the five charges were blanket charges – meaning they applied to all the dogs seized – and the other two charges were specific to a Shih Tzu/Poodle mix and a Rottweiler.

Lewis had initially denied the charges and a trial date was set for March 2020. However, the trial was called off following an eleventh-hour guilty plea. Lewis accepted a deal with the prosecution and entered a single guilty plea on count two, which stated that Lewis… “allowed the suffering of domestic dogs by failing to provide adequate veterinary care”.

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These dogs were among 53 seized from a home in Prospect by authorities during an investigation in May 2019. – Photo: RCIPS

During the March 2020 hearing, then prosecutor Darlene Oko told the court, “The prosecution is willing to accept Ms. Lewis’s guilty plea to count two. The acceptance of the guilty plea is on the condition of full facts, and while count two only speaks to failing to provide adequate veterinary care, the agreed facts will take into account the charges that refer to failing to provide adequate food, water and spacing for the dogs.”

The four other charges will lie on file.

Sentence terms

When imposing her sentence today, Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn told Lewis the 50-day prison sentence would be suspended for two years, and the 180 hours of community service was to be done within 12 months as part of a 1-year probation order.

The $12,000 compensation order was to be paid to three different non-profit organisations:

  • $2,000 is to be paid to One Dog at a Time by 30 June 2022.
  • $5,000 is to be paid to Canine Friends Cayman by 30 November 2022.
  • The remaining $5,000 is to be paid to the Humane Society by 30 April 2023.

“If you breach any of these conditions, you can be brought back and I can resentence you, at which point all options are available including imprisonment,” warned Gunn, as she released Lewis from the court.

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