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No plan for the unwanted pets - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE EDITOR: There is a incessant barrage of requests for shelters to take in animals. Let's leap back to the root of this problem.

Why is there such a huge unwanted pet population? Is it ignorance, indifference, cost? Even if not one or a combination, the unwanted pet population is unprecedented and the devaluing of these little lives is evidenced everywhere by neglect, suffering, abandonment and death.

Is it that our people really don't know about spaying and neutering, or they just couldn't care, or they have some religious reason not to do it, or they just can't afford it, or there is no punitive legal action enforced when people abuse animals, allow them to procreate irresponsibly and abandon litters?

Whatever the reason, a lot of people are dumping animals in the most criminal way. What are the possible solutions? The largest stakeholder, the Government, has to play a major role in animal welfare. It cannot ignore the fact that its neglect of animal welfare has caused a crisis in which bad attitudes and behaviours have festered.

The updated laws against cruelty need to be enforced and the police need to charge people who abandon animals and who are cruel to animals. They must treat those who make reports with a degree of seriousness so law enforcement can act as a deterrent to those who want to beat, starve, poison, neglect, throw out and do other heinous things to mistreat animals. Also, each police station needs an animal protection unit.

There needs to be a government-sponsored spay and neuter programme for two years and a subsidised programme for a further two years to assist those who can't afford. Build in animal welfare education in the curriculum from nursery to tertiary to foster awareness and sensitivity in students.

The Government also needs to work with animal welfare non-profit organisations to establish and institutionalise welfare policies. Shelters are at cash-strapped breaking points, rescuers are exhausted, unwanted animals are born to suffer and our country has no national plan to deal with this crisis - and many Trinis are literally getting away with murder.



Animals Alive

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