In 2002, CNN carried an article on its website that focused on 15,000 years with man’s best friend—dogs. Man’s best friend, the article revealed, have over the years, developed unique ways of understanding human beings. But coming back to present day, how have we human beings tried to understand dogs? It’s a valid question for all of us, especially here in Guyana, where we have a “dog overpopulation epidemic” in our midst. You walk or travel anywhere in this country and you are bound to see dozens of dogs on the road, left abandoned, running aimlessly, sometimes in front of traffic and—just like that—they meet their demise!
I challenge any reader, to go right now outside, especially if they live in a rural area, just look outdoors, on the road, and you will see a dog which clearly has no owner or home. The sadder part of this tragedy is that many of these animals are mating continuously, every day, and more dogs arrive in this sad part of the world, only to meet lives of hardships, starvation, and hopelessness, if they knew what that felt like. But they do know. Dogs are so close to human beings. Not in the literal sense, but dogs have numerous characteristics as human beings: they show emotion; they can be happy, or sad, even cry; dogs are so unlike other animals in the animal kingdom. They respond to actions by human beings, sometimes negatively or positively, depending on the action. They are loyal beings. They can be ferocious beings too. They will lay down their lives for their owners. They will howl in the nights in sadness or distress, especially if they miss one of their own who probably died or ran away. Yes, dogs are running away from their owners these days, because they are cooped up and locked up all day. Dogs, too, need their freedom to be walked and taken out regularly by their owners. Does this happen in Guyana?
This brings me to the next point. How many persons in Guyana can properly and dutifully care for a dog? I see Stabroek News putting a dog’s photograph (they’re so adorable) in the Vet Column (an act by this newspaper which I find very noble, not to mention interesting and informative) and asking members of the public to take them home. Does the GSPCA interview potential dog owners before they allow them to own one of their dogs? Many Guyanese are anxious and willing to care for pets but have not an idea as to how to really do this. Hence, they should not be allowed to care for dogs if they cannot devote the time to really care for this animal, to walk him out every day, to give him proper meals, take him to the vet for regular check-ups and deworming, and just spending leisure time loving and being with their pets. I believe as a society, we have lost our senses when it comes to caring for animals.
Dogs are so intelligent. Studies in 2002 have shown that dogs have responded to human needs tests better than chimpanzees (whom we believe are closest to humans in terms of genetics, etc). Dogs really do understand what we try to communicate to them, they truly understand what we desire of them, too. The behaviour of dogs has astounded scientists over the years. Dogs have truly earned their place in the animal kingdom.
How do we thank these noble animals for their protection and service and unconditional love to human beings? We leave them out in the cold to wander the streets, searching for food, getting into fights with other packs of dogs, getting beaten up and battered. I usually pass dozens of dogs just wandering about on the road. Some of them are bruised and maimed. Many are full of skin diseases that would make one turn his eyes away, the scorn, the devastation, the heart brokenness one feels, the powerlessness of not being able to do much for these animals is truly inexplicable.
There is one writer who writes to the newspapers about the welfare of dogs and such. What are they doing about the dogs in Berbice? Can’t they establish a shelter here in Berbice to address the concerns of these voiceless animals? How much would it take for them to stop focusing so much in Georgetown—yes there is a great need in Georgetown—but there is also a greater need in Berbice too, in New Amsterdam, where dogs run rampant, everywhere you turn, dogs are present, without ownership, without a life, they are suffering. Dogs are suffering so much in Guyana. Drivers and motorists value no life anymore. They hit down cats and dogs and other animals on the road. The results are there to see, the results of their thoughtless, gruesome actions. Animals have rights and are cared for in other countries, not here. Many of us can’t even look after ourselves. We are so unkind to animals in Guyana. But then again, if we shoot, kill and murder each other every day…
Leon Jameson Suseran