When I stopped to speak to the ‘dog lady’ as Syeada Manbodh is affectionately known, I asked “why are you giving the GSPCA a hard time, the donkey looked OK to me”? I am referring to the recent letters and photograph printed in Stabroek News on 2nd Oct 2011 about the plight of an abandoned donkey on the East Coast and a sick horse left to die in the city.
She said that if I thought the donkey looked OK, I should come with her and see the donkey for myself. Of course I could not refuse and the following day we set out complete with buckets, bran and molasses to find this donkey. We spotted ‘bruck-up’ just past the now defunct drive-in cinema lying down in the grass in the hot noon day sun. This in itself is unusual for such animals that would normally seek the shade of a tree or just graze. When water was offered it was readily accepted by the thirsty donkey which did not even attempt to get up. Eventually after some encouragement the poor animal struggled to its feet and the few steps it took were obviously painful. Indeed, the hoofs were over-grown and the right front foot was twisted at right angles. Its knee joints appeared swollen and arthritic, a condition with which I could empathise. The laceration on its back while not open, was still oozing and the big growth hanging down between its front legs looked very unpleasant and were it not for the kind persons who undertake to feed and water this donkey each day, its suffering would be unimaginable.
Somewhere in the acronym of GSPCA are the words Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This is cruelty! The animal cannot forage for itself, it has been abandoned for over three months and it is sick. It is not enough to say that the donkey was ‘monitored from time to time’ (how would any one of the authors like to be monitored from time to time if they were sick?) or ‘attempts to locate the owner proved futile’. That is merely passing the buck! Surely the kindest thing, in the absence of an owner or sanctuary for such animals, would be for the attending vet to make a decision and put it ‘to sleep’. This action certainly should have been taken in the case of the burnt horse because even though the owner was located, he/she did not cooperate and it died what must have been a miserable death. In the wild these two animals would have been put out of their misery by hungry carnivores, but as they do not live in the wild we should do the next best thing and take responsibility for ending their pain.
The frustration the Society feels at its inability to fulfill its mandate and prosecute owners that inflict unspeakable cruelty on their animals due to; the lack of prosecutors; lawyers willing to advocate and a judicial system that needs fixing is entirely understandable. It is also an indictment of the NDC’s and the Municipality that they do not seem to take some responsibility for the disposal of these animals. The bigger problem however is that we as a nation are not sufficiently outraged by animal cruelty and demand of our legislators tighter laws to deal with cruel owners. Until such time life for our dumb friends will not get better anytime soon. That being said, I am heartened and happy to read that the GSPCA have actually had a lawyer draft appropriate legislation to make its mandate easier, but knowing how long it took for the legislation for Persons with Disabilities to become law, the Society should with resolution, determination and urgency lobby for better laws to protect all animals.