The GSPCA would like to clarify certain aspects of an article written about a dead horse’s body being burnt by its owner that appeared in the Stabroek News of 4th October, 2011. Unfortunately, this article gives the impression that the GSPCA was aware of this horse’s dire circumstances but was content only to track down the animal’s owner and be persuaded by his assurances that the animal was being treated. In a similar vein, the inaccurate and counterproductive comment provided by Ms. Syeada Manbodh also adds to the misrepresentation that there was no substantial intervention by any organization in this case, including the GSPCA. Indeed, the case of this horse is different in many aspects to that of the donkey on the East Coast of Demerara, to which Ms. Manbodh has drawn an unfortunate analogy. This is not the story of an animal being abandoned by its owner. Instead, the sad story of this horse is like so many that the GSPCA encounters associated with the uncaring and inhumane callousness of some unfit animal owners— an indifference which causes great suffering to the animals in their trust. This is especially common amongst those who own “beasts of burden”, and who regard these animals as nothing else.
It was in fact since early August 2011 that the GSPCA received a report about this horse. Upon investigation, the suffering horse was found tied with a cement sling to a spot near St. Sidwell’s Primary School. The animal had bruises on both of its front legs (not the hind ones as reported). From then, the GSPCA Inspector and Clinic Administrator commenced weekly treatment of this animal’s wounds; however, despite these efforts, the injuries eventually worsened. During this time, the Society made numerous attempts to locate the horse’s owner, but met with little success since the animal had no brand (which itself is illegal), and nearby residents could provide no information. Eventually, in early September, the owner was located. He assured the GSPCA that he knew of his animal’s injuries and had purchased medication for it from a “doctor friend.” When advised to have a veterinarian treat his animal, the owner indicated that he had attempted to do so without success. He was then told that if the animal did not receive more substantive medical attention soon, it would probably have to be euthanized as the injuries would only worsen. The Society then offered to arrange for a veterinarian to examine the animal.
It is important to point out at this stage that the laws of Guyana do not mandate the owner of an animal to follow the recommendations of a veterinarian (and of course, the GSPCA). It is only if in a veterinarian’s opinion that the condition of an animal is bad enough to warrant euthanasia, that this course of action may be taken regardless.
In the process of arranging for a veterinarian to inspect the animal, the Society found that it had been moved to an undeterminable location. The GSPCA tracked down the owner who confirmed that he had moved the animal, but refused to disclose its present location. A few days after, an anonymous phone call provided information that led to this horse being found.
However, when the GSPCA’s Administrator arrived with the Veterinarian, they found the area inaccessible because of the swampy ground and thick vegetation.
The GSPCA arrived the next morning better prepared to access the area; but when they did, they found the horse dead. Calls to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) by the GSPCA to request that they move the carcass went unanswered. While these efforts were being made to have the relevant authority remove the carcass, the animal’s owner, true to his style, decided to take matters into his own hands by burning the carcass.
The GSPCA has taken many such negligent and recalcitrant owners before the Courts, but regrettably this is mostly an exercise in futility. Very few prosecutions are obtained—perhaps because of the failure of existing animal laws to effectively address issues such as this one or because our judicial system often appears not to treat cases of animal cruelty with the seriousness it deserves. Ms. Manbodh was only reiterating the GSPCA’s consistent and continuous thrust which demands a revision of current animal laws. In fact, at great expense to the Society, a lawyer was paid to draft improved legislation relative to ensuring that our nation’s animals are not abused.
In closing, the GSPCA would like to correct this newspaper’s inaccuracy of Mr. Oliver Insanally’s position as the Clinic Administrator as he is in fact the Society’s Honorary President. The Committee hopes that in future, to avoid including comments that distort a situation, the Stabroek News checks its facts by seeking the Society’s views in a timely manner before printing these publications. Your reporter only attempted to do so late on the afternoon before the publication of the article and was unsuccessful as a result.
of the GSPCA
Dr. Steve Surujbally
Dr. Nicholas Waldron