We are in 2018 and the only piece of legislation we have in T&T with regards to animal welfare dates back almost 100 years ago. No, I am not kidding. I’m talking about the Summary Offenses Act of 1921.
Therefore, is it really surprising to see how many animal abuse cases we hear or read about? Is anyone being harshly punished for committing such atrocities against our animal friends?
Now as a Vegan, every single animal in my eyes is the same. Meaning, even though they have their own unique personalities and traits, their lives are equally important to me.
So what do I exactly mean by this? It means that I don’t have a dividing line. There is an invisible line that sometimes is drawn between the animals people choose to defend and advocate for, and the animals they choose to eat.
EVERY ANIMAL IS A LIVING BEING
Even though we seem to think the animals we choose to keep at home and those in factory farms are different from each other, they are actually the same. They all have eyes to see, noses to smell, ears to listen, and hearts to beat…
So when talking about mistreating or abusing animals, whether they are dogs, pigs, cows, chicken, turkeys and so forth, I see no difference. Abuse is abuse and should be punished in the harshest way possible.
But for the purpose of this blog post, I am referring specifically to our animal, home companions. Almost daily, we hear and read about dogs and cats being beaten, tortured, poisoned, abandoned, neglected and starved.
But what is there in place to protect these innocent beings from the hands of pseudo-humans who take full advantage of them? Certainly, not the archaic laws we have in place to deal with these very serious offenses.
These laws are nothing but a hard slap on the face of hundreds of animals going through indescribable pain and suffering.
Why do you think we hear so many stories of abuse? Because the perpetrators know there is nothing proper in place to deal with these crimes. Therefore, they are rampant committing all kind of atrocities against those who cannot defend themselves.
WHEN are we going to seriously address this issue?
Let’s take a look at some sections:
“In Sections 79 to 80 (inclusive) “animal” means any horse, mare, gelding, colt, filly, bull, cow, ox, steer, heifer, calf, mule, ass, ram, ewe, sheep, lamb, boar, sow, barrow, hog, pig, goat, kid, dog, cat, or any other domestic animal, whether of the kind or species particularly mentioned or of any other kind or species whatsoever, and whether a quadruped or not.”
SECTION 79 (1)
“Any person who cruelly beats, ill-treats, starves, overdrives, overloads, abuses, tortures, or otherwise maltreats any animal is liable to a fine of four hundred dollars or to imprisonment for two months.”
$400TT for beating, starving, abusing and torturing a “domesticated” animal? What kind of nonsensical law is this? Most perpetrators can pay this fine on the spot and never spend a minute behind bars.
The rest of section 79 and section 80 are so OLD that talks about the treatment of animals that are used to carry loads. We are in 2018! This is a rare sight. These laws definitely need upgrading to match the current state of affairs in our country.
It is a little more promising. It states:
“A constable or the owner of any animal in whose view an offence under either Section 79 or 80 is committed may apprehend the offender and take him before a Magistrate or Justice to be dealt with according to law. Such constable or owner may similarly apprehend the offender if information of the offence is given by any other person declaring his name and place of abode.”
Basically, police officers have the POWER to make an arrest in a case of animal abuse if reported by someone. But how many police officers would seriously take down the information provided and pursue an arrest?
Now, some people might say…Listen, the police cannot even cope with the current crime situation in the country let alone handle crimes against animals. I don’t like to think this way. One, because I don’t believe animal lives should be considered less than any other but also because if a crime is committed, it is the responsibility of the police to make an arrest if necessary. Full stop.
It basically deals with restitution:
“If any person shall, by committing any offence under Section 79 or 80, cause injury or damage to be done to any animal or to any person or property, he shall, on conviction for such offence, pay to the owner of the animal (if the offender is not the owner) or to the person who has sustained the injury or damage, such sum of money by way of compensation, not exceeding five hundred dollars, as the Court shall adjudge.”
Again, this is a slap on the wrist and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It is interesting because it also affects people and property and not only animals.
Section 83 to 84 talks about bull-baiting, cock-fighting and similar offenses. Those who are the perpetrators of such crimes will be liable to a fine of $400 or to imprisonment for two months. The fine given is so ridiculously low that I am sure those in charge of these illegal activities can pay it without blinking.
It deals with animals held in pounds. And to my amazement it states:
“Except for gross negligence, no officer or servant of the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or person having charge of any place set apart as provided above shall be liable in respect of the death or sickness or deterioration of, or any accident or casualty to, any animal detained in such place under this Act”.
The big question is WHY? If they are not liable for whatever happens to these animals (EVEN though they are the ones who are supposedly taking care of them in the pound)… Who is then responsible for the neglect, accidents or death caused to these animals while in THEIR care?
SECTIONS 88 AND 90
It summarizes how animals are perceived in Trinidad & Tobago. Not as sentient, equal beings, but merely objects that can be destroyed after 48 hours if unclaimed and their bodies disposed like if they are paper.
“If any animal detained under section 85, for any period shall, on the expiration of that period or within forty-eight hours thereof, not be claimed by its owner, or if its owner does not pay to the said Society the cost of the keep and treatment of the animal during the period it is detained, the person having charge of it may, after seven days’ notice published in the Gazette, sell it by auction and apply the proceeds towards the expenses to be incurred under this Act, or may destroy it.”
“In the case of any offence under section 79 or 80, the Court may, if it thinks fit, order as part of its sentence that the animal shall be destroyed and its body disposed of at the expense of the offender.
The Commissioner of Police shall give such orders as may be necessary for the destruction of the animal and the disposal of its body.”
We enslave animals in zoos under the fake blanket of education and preservation but with the reality of a money-making business exploiting them.
We use them and abuse them as we please knowing that nothing will happen to us if we are caught committing these crimes. And based on this law the Court and the Commissioner of Police also have the power to sentence them to death penalty…
Imagine, a murderer, a rapist and a convicted pedophile all have ONE thing in common in T&T: They don’t get to die to pay for their crimes. By the other hand, an innocent animal can be sentenced to death if a court of law or the Commissioner of Police sees it fit.
This has to be the most sick, vile, screwed system of all that rewards the guilty while punishing the innocent.
It has to STOP and it has to STOP right here and right now.
TACKLE PROPER ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION
We can start by tackling proper animal welfare legislation in T&T. It is way longer due.
We can all do our part by meeting with our local MP’s and discussing this issue, get lawyers willing to be involved, creating petitions, becoming a VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS.
But for that to take place, a serious change of heart needs to take place in those with power to change policy and enabling laws.
Those in power need to start CARING. Those in power need to be WILLING.
But how many are out there? That’s the million dollar question.