There is no doubt that the excellent work done by Montego Bay Animal Haven (MBAH), in partnership with Save The Scruff, to find some of our new local “Royal Caribbean Terriers” homes in need was needed and deserves praise, so Jamaica The Veterinarians Association applauds them!
Social media was inundated with humorous memes, including ‘Dog dem gone a farrin’ a live good life lef wi! Although pet travel has long been made easier to and from Jamaica. MBAH has a recent history of exporting as tourists and those overseas fall in love with our animals, wanting to help with donation, rehabilitation and adoption. This, however, is one of the few instances where such a mass exodus has occurred and while the commentary is entertaining, we need to identify the root cause. Why would 144 of our local bastards leave Jamaica?
There are many Jamaicans who care deeply about animals of all types. Besides organizations such as MBAH, Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) and Animal House, there are many people who dedicate their tireless time and effort to caring for animals and trying to change hearts and minds. minds of those who don’t. We are happy to see local businesses take over to donate to MBAH to help them continue their work. It has been a long time coming, and continued support for all of our animal welfare organizations is absolutely necessary.
The Royal Caribbean Terrier (also known as the mongrel) is used locally to describe mixed breed dogs with little breed distinction on physical appearance, and they make up the majority of our stray population. Sadly, many Jamaicans oppose their adoption, and those who own them often do not consider them worthy of the same medical care and attention that “high” breed dogs tend to receive.
“Nuttin ‘cya do dem; “” Dem did not die of any disease; I didn’t even buy it! are cold, common explanations sometimes heard by veterinarians.
As a result, they receive substandard care despite the fact that they may suffer in the same way. They are hit by cars and can spread diseases such as those caused by internal and external parasites. “Dog dem catch thefts, not fleas,” a popular meme, hints at improving their potential conditions abroad. Ignoring these necessities along with abandonment and free breeding perpetuates the problem of stray dogs. We, as a company that is not focused on mitigating this, are therefore helping to create sick and lonely dogs.
The population inevitably reproduces, resulting in overpopulation. By not addressing their mass reproductive abilities, we will always lose in the battle to save them. They can breed about twice a year with average litters of six to 10. Imagine how many can be born each year, many of which suffer and die before reaching adulthood. Those that survive to maturity can reproduce themselves in less than a year, perpetuating the cycle, a nightmare for animal welfare and population control.
JSPCA and MBAH do their best to save horribly treated or abandoned animals, also running community spaying and neutering clinics in low income areas with high roaming populations. Although extremely valuable, it is simply not enough given the scale of the problem. With no other options left, shelters are often forced to put unadopted animals to sleep in order to make room for others in need. These organizations are donation-driven and the need for their services far exceeds the funding and time available. Without ongoing, substantial funding and the hands to get the job done, they will have a hard time expanding their business. The JSPCA, which works not only at the national level but also with a regional scope, has been trying to relocate for years without success. This is our officially recognized animal welfare organization and should not be taken for granted. Tangible support is needed.
Our animal laws are woefully outdated and inadequate. The recent passage of the Dogs (Liability in Attack) Act was a necessary start, but now others such as the Cruelty to Animals Act, the Pound Act, the Animal care and public health law need to be addressed. For starters, the fines in our archaic laws are miserable. Even more important is the exclusion of internationally accepted standards. Why do our laws ignore the seriousness of torture, sexual abuse, poisoning and neglect? Why don’t the regulations specify their basic needs? Humans can speak for themselves; animals can’t. We are responsible for their well-being, and the interdependence of humans and animals should offer them their protections just as the Earth is our responsibility to preserve. We want our justice system to recognize the importance of this and put Jamaica on an equal footing with other nations, including others in our region, who have well-established animal welfare standards. .
After the Dogs Act (Liability for Attack) was amended, which places criminal liability on owners of dogs injuring humans, perhaps we can now focus on protecting dogs from humans who injure them. or mistreat them, against the neglect of good nutrition, shelter and appropriate medical care. There is significant scientific evidence that supports people who mistreat or injure animals later inflict the same on humans. Likewise, showing kindness to animals is directly related to showing kindness to humans. By educating people about the proper care required for an animal and its relationship to human interactions, we can then begin to build a kinder, gentler society.
So why would strangers want to adopt our dogs? The answer is simple. These people understand the value of a pet’s life, regardless of breed. This is reinforced by their national perception of animals and their culture of welfare supported by strong legislation. Locally, we need a broader understanding of what property entails, with appropriate repercussions for offenders.
The JVMA believes that change can come from a healthy combination of the following strategies:
1. Public education
2. Improvement of local legislation on animal welfare
3. Management of the wandering population, including spraying and sterilization programs and rehousing
There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to raise our standard of animal care in Jamaica, including companion animals, food producing animals, and sport / attraction animals. “A basket full of cocoa.” This requires political will and a concerted effort from all parties. Let’s transform the minds of our future generations and the lives of our animals.
Dr Simone Johnally is a Veterinarian, President of Public Relations and President of Animal Welfare at the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association. Send your comments to [email protected].