It could mean the end of sacred cows. And goats, sheep and horses; in fact all of those rogue animals, accustomed to roaming, sleeping and living in public spaces without hindrance; the fee paid to stray-catchers has been increased.
The National Assembly yesterday passed the Pounds (Amendment) Bill 2010 increasing the fee from $1,000 to $5,000 for every animal a stray catcher or any other person takes to the pound. “While no one can say in a very definitive way that this is going to be the ultimate solution to the problems we face with stray animals, I do think, I do believe that it will go a far way in helping us to organise this particular activity so we can get better results,” said Minister of Local Government Kellawan Lall.
Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee, who tabled the Bill, said that $1,000 to catch a stray animal had proved inadequate. Consultations were held with regional and local government authorities and individuals interested, and given the risks involved, they said that the money was not enough. Cabinet discussed the matter and agreed to raise the fee, Rohee said. He also cited the complaints by road-users and others and calls for the administration to take steps to address the matter.
Lall said stray animals are a “big problem” not only on roads but they damage public property as well.
PNCR Parliamentarian, Deborah Backer, while supporting the amendment, asked whether the roads have been made safer, since the fee was last increased in 2007. She also asked where the pounds are.
Responding, Rohee said that 17 pounds were built or rehabilitated last year at a cost of $30.2 million. As regards whether the fee increase will have an impact, opportunity must be given for the different steps taken to become operational, Rohee said. “I think we have to take a stronger approach with respect to enforcement, we have to take a stronger approach with respect to encouraging the communities in the rural areas and also in those areas where pounds do not exist, to have a coordinated and collaborative approach on this issue,” he added. He pointed out that stray-catchers will now be better remunerated and will feel a better sense of security in moving to take action against the stray animals. (Gaulbert Sutherland)