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I first visited the beautiful islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009, instantly fell in love with its charm, and have returned many times since. Sadly, what I did not fall in love with was the severe animal cruelty and neglect I witnessed during my visits. I found the blatant disregard for innocent life shocking and upsetting.
My first witnessing of animal cruelty on the island was a bus driver purposely swerving his van to hit a young puppy at the side of the road. The screams of that dog will haunt me forever, as will the sight of her dragging her injured body to the other side of the road, only to fall into a filthy gutter. My first reaction as a normal caring human being was to try to help this animal in pain. I am sad to say, compassion was not the reaction of the first person I called upon for help in a nearby shop. The shopkeeper actually thought the incident was all quite funny! Luckily I was able to find another person who did show normal human compassion and offered not only immediate help but, also follow-up treatment and a home for this poor pup.
During return visits to the country, I have sadly witnessed more cruelty and neglect; starving dogs, mange-ridden and flea and tick infested dogs, beaten dogs, dogs chained all day in blistering heat with no water, dogs poisoned and left to die a slow and agonising death, and dogs slashed using cutlasses and knives out of malice, for why else such violence against these harmless creatures? For a country that considers itself built on Christian values, the cruel way in which some residents treat animals is appalling, and quite frankly, hypocritical.
Because I feel so strongly about this abusive situation on the islands, I started a petition, asking the SVG government to take action. It was during my research on the petition, that I discovered that SVG does indeed have an animal cruelty law! But seemingly, a law with little or no enforcement. Surely the government and the police wish its citizenry to respect the laws? Perhaps the authorities require on-going reminders that this law needs to be upheld; to be reminded how important this is, not just for the wellbeing of its animals but for its reputation as a caring compassionate society wishing to attract visitors and investors.
After all, in what better way can it be summed up than by the quote: ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’
By this moral compass, St Vincent & the Grenadines would be judged rather poorly indeed!
Sadly, it seems that the present Vincentian Government is not overly concerned with its humanitarian reputation, because how else can one explain its total lack of response to the international petition that garnered some 12,000 signatures! I handed a copy of this petition, in person, to the Prime Minister’s office in July 2015.To date, I have received no response nor acknowledgment from the Prime Minister’s office, nor any Government department. Subsequently, I have made several attempts to contact the Prime Minister and his office to no avail.
This lack of response is unacceptable in a supposedly civilized, democratic nation. Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed by this Administration’s’ rebuff, so I’m writing this article in the hope that awareness of the immediate issues and the terrible lack of response by the Government will enable some kind of action.
By Denise Rimmer