LETTER TO THE EDITOR
While the onset of a global pandemic in March 2020 is the milestone most of us recall, does anyone remember the black dog, hung from a tree until dead, her suffering recorded by the perpetrators and posted on social media as entertainment? Two persons were arrested, charged and brought before the court for animal cruelty offences. Both men were let off the proverbial hook and fined $400 because, I'm told, the revised law that prescribes a $100,000 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment had not been assented to when the crime was committed.
While many animal lovers called for harsher justice, I lamented the punitive approach of which we are so fond, arguing that instead of paying a fine to the State, the funds should be donated to an animal welfare organization, where the guilty parties should volunteer for the same duration as the prison sentence. Since this landmark case, not one person has been held accountable for an offense of cruelty against an animal, although many have been reported, including by the writer.
I will mark an anniversary of my own on the 10th of May, for which justice also remains elusive. A year ago on that day, two straying dogs mauled my cat Toro, in a neighbour’s front yard, mere inches away from ours. I too sought justice for this offense but to date, none is forthcoming. Every time I see an ad for the TTPS app, I cringe. Simply submit the information via the app they said but I had to make the report in person at the station. If you’re not making an anonymous report, the police will come to you, the soothing female voice declares. Not once did a police officer visit my home.
To their credit, my constituency and local government representative did visit, and my husband and I relayed our concerns, not just about the police response but for the lingering threat posed by the dogs, which continued to roam freely. I even proposed a solution to establish an animal control unit in the regional corporation, to effect consistent, community-focused animal control, rescue and adoption while investigating and prosecuting, via municipal police, any contraventions of animal cruelty law. Of course, I was not taken seriously by my representatives nor the relevant government ministers to whom I also wrote to propose the idea.
As with far too many matters in Trinidad and Tobago, you have to ‘know’ someone, preferably high up on the food chain, in order to receive justice. Elected officials and law enforcement remain unaccountable to the citizens they serve and as a result, animals and those who care about them, continue to suffer cruelty and inhumane living, or rather dying, conditions.
On Monday, I will mark Toro’s death by releasing an episode of my podcast Animalia, in the hope that my advocacy via this medium will preserve some hope in our collective humanity and that justice, in the truest sense of the word, will prevail in the end.