The purpose of my letter published in Stabroek News on September 28, 2011, was to highlight the stressful situation of an injured donkey which was having great difficulty in walking around the Vryheid’s Lust area on the East Coast and to identify weaknesses in the attempts of humans to make life less hard for such animal friends. However, my letter seemed to have ruffled some feathers within the GSPCA and on October 8th, 2011 they responded with their own letter – `GSPCA has been helping suffering donkey’.
The GSPCA letter refers to what they labelled my “irresponsible statement” and states that I am casting the GSPCA as a “negligent and ineffectual organization’’. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am a firm believer that organizations, institutions and individuals make their own reputations and that their public images are a result of positive and negative actions and their respective levels of efficiency. I would like nothing better than to see the GSPCA become the most efficient and effective organization in Guyana since that would greatly improve services for our animals.
In the GSPCA response they report that their vet determined that “none of the (donkey’s) injuries were life-threatening or causing undue pain/suffering’’. That is a vet’s job so I have no comments in that regard. However, from that diagnosis should one conclude that the donkey was not suffering from other things; considering that he could not stand for long periods, walking was difficult just seeking water. As of Oct. 13/11 he was still observed sitting at the side of the busy East Coast Road.
This situation prompted several volunteers and myself to take water and feed to the donkey on a regular basis and to try and speed up the reaction time of the relevant authorities and responsible organizations. I still feel that three months plus to resolve this donkey’s situation is too long regardless of who is responsible.
However, I think the GSPCA letter, although unnecessarily critical of my comments, is a step in the right direction towards identifying important weaknesses negatively affecting the quality of services available for domestic animals in Guyana. For example:
Poor reporting: GSPCA says that citizens have a key role to play by reporting stray cases or other cases of animals in distress. GSPCA asks citizens to call the Ministry of Home Affairs or make a report to the GSPCA.
Poor coordination between organizations: GSPCA suggests there is need for more partnerships and pooling of resources to effectively remove stray animals from roads in a humane manner.
I was pleased to see that GSPCA has volunteered to take on the role of Coordinator to engage the relevant authorities and animal rights volunteers. This is to be commended;
Institutional inefficiency: GSPCA identified, in its letter, organizations with responsibilities in animal welfare that need to be strengthened to improve their services to animals.
Outdated laws create weak institutions: GSPCA informed that it is helping the government develop appropriate legislation. Unfortunately, this process is moving very slowly and needs to be energized.
Ineffective animal pounds: GSPCA stated “that the pounds themselves are not safe sanctuaries for homeless animals given the reports of the treatment received about animals there’’. I totally agree. Since Aug 29th, 2011 myself and other volunteers have visited one of the animal pounds on a regular basis monitoring the care given to 1 ram, 2 sheep, 4 horses and 1 foal. During this time we found: 3 horses left the pound after approximately 1 week. Some animals went days without food and received water only occasionally.
Animals tied in the sun with ropes too tight were often found tangled in their own ropes. And, we witnessed the death of the foal for lack of care. Since Aug 29th, 2011 we have tried to make life less stressful for these voiceless animals by providing food and water and suggesting positive changes to the police helper in charge.
Need for animal foster homes: GSPCA informs that it is “pursuing the possibility of having an appropriate individual or institution foster the injured donkey”. Perhaps appropriate sites could be developed or promoted with participation of multiple organizations, institutions and individuals with land resources.
Like GSPCA says, this could (hopefully) produce a happy ending for many suffering animals. The weaknesses highlighted above, if corrected, could greatly improve the quality of animal services in Guyana. However, success will require effective partnerships and effective communication and coordination. I wish GSPCA luck in taking on the role of Coordinator.
P.S. I would volunteer my pickup to transfer the donkey to a safer place if transportation is a problem.