Please permit the Guyana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) to comment on a letter written by Ms Syeada Manbodh that appeared in the Stabroek News of September 28 and Kaieteur News of October 1. In this letter, Ms Manbodh describes the plight of an unfortunate donkey that has presumably been abandoned by its owner and is afflicted by various health issues. She also details the attempts to help this animal by herself and a group of fellow animal lovers.
While Ms Manbodh’s letter serves a good purpose of highlighting the larger issue of abandoned animals in Guyana, she unfortunately deviates from this to take a swipe at the GSPCA by implying that it has merely been “looking into the matter” for three months. The front page comment accompanying the photograph in the Stabroek News of October 2 also echoes Ms Manbodh’s implication by stating confidently that GSPCA has “done nothing so far to help this suffering donkey.”
However, in her haste to cast the GSPCA as a negligent and ineffectual organization, Ms Manbodh has consciously chosen to discard all the information she actually possesses with respect to the actions taken by the Society in this matter before penning this irresponsible statement. The GSPCA therefore wishes to register our disappointment at the fact that neither of these two newspapers sought a comment from the GSPCA before publishing these letters and story. As a result of this misrepresentation, the public image of the GSPCA has been tarnished – which is surely harmful to the Society and its mission.
What in fact transpired during this time is that the GSPCA actively monitored this donkey from the time the animal was spotted by one of our animal inspectors. A growth on the animal, an injured leg and eventually a wound on its back were noted. Attempts by the Society to locate the animal’s owner proved futile. It is a legal requirement that whenever an animal owner cannot be located, the GSPCA has to seek the certification of a qualified veterinarian in determining whether euthanasia would be the appropriate course of action for animals with irreparable injuries. At the time of inspecting the animal, a veterinarian considered all aspects of the donkey’s case, including its injuries. The veterinarian decided that euthanasia was not appropriate, since none of the injuries were life-threatening or causing undue pain/suffering. The greatest issue concerning this animal was the lack of basic care and not a medical one.
Since then, GSPCA’s Clinic Administrator and animal inspector have continuously checked on this donkey to note whether there has been any deterioration of its condition, as well as to apply treatment to its wound. As a result, this wound healed in just under a month of it being noticed. One might notice that even in Ms Manbodh’s published picture, the animal exhibited no lesions. A follow-up visit by an experienced veterinarian was arranged recently (October 3) by the GSPCA. The vet noted that the animal’s wound and leg had healed as a result of treatment provided. Unfortunately, the donkey still has difficulty walking because its hooves are grotesquely overgrown and need to be trimmed – another reflection of lack of proper care and not necessarily ill health.
To her credit, Ms Manbodh draws attention to the cruelty of persons who wilfully allow their animals to roam our roadways where they often meet an unfortunate demise and asked whether there is an organization that picks up and cares for animals too sick to be taken to pounds. We hasten to note that the pounds themselves are no safe sanctuary for homeless animals given the reports of the treatment received by animals there – but this is an ongoing issue that is engaging the GSPCA’s attention. In this case, the GSPCA is pursuing the possibility of having an appropriate individual or institution foster the said animal. Hopefully this case will have a happy ending amongst the many homeless animals that abound all over Guyana. It is, however, a challenging situation that the GSPCA cannot be reasonably expected to remedy by itself.
Contrary to popular belief, stray-catching is not one of the GSPCA’s mandates. The Society does its best to assist in situations it can manage such as in the capturing of stray cats and dogs. Being a non-profit organization run by volunteers, the GSPCA simply does not have the means to transport or house larger animals like this donkey or the manpower to do this on a large-scale basis.
Under the laws of Guyana, the duty/responsibility of collecting strays rests with the various municipalities – either the Mayor and City Council or the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) with administrative responsibility for the areas in which strays are found. As is clearly the case, these organizations are incapable of doing this effectively. The Ministry of Home Affairs has implemented a stray-catching programme that has met with some success, but has encountered some problems as well.
The Government of Guyana is at the moment developing legislation that should more effectively address the issue of straying. This new legislation will include initiatives set forth in a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bill developed by the GSPCA and submitted to the government for this purpose.
In the context of the current limitations, the GSPCA suggests that there is need for the pooling of resources by way of a partnership between relevant entities such as the ones previously mentioned to provide a solution that removes stray animals from roads in a humane manner.
It is a strategy that the Society is willing to play an integral part in once other organizations can bring the resources necessary for the success of such an intervention to the table. Citizens also have a role to play by reporting stray cases or other cases of animals in distress. This may be done by calling the Ministry of Home Affairs on or by making a report to the GSPCA who will then engage the relevant authority.
Dr Steve Surujbally
Dr Nicholas Waldron
The Executive Committee of the GSPCA
We apologise for the caption on our front-page photograph of October 2.