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New committee to deal with stray animals

Published: 
Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, right, listens to the concerns of Animals Alive vice president Jowelle De Souza following Tuesday’s consultation at City Hall, San Fernando. Looking on is Purushottam Singh. Photo by:Kristian De Silva

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Having shut down the San Fernando dog pound with immediate effect for the second time in as many years, Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein has now established a committee to deal with stray dogs.

Addressing animal rights activists from several groups—including the T&T Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA), Animals Alive and Animal Welfare Network —during a consultation at the San Fernando City Hall auditorium on Tuesday, Hosein said he wanted to solve the issue immediately by establishing a committee to come up with solutions.

Hosein said he expected the committee to provide feedback within seven days on how the ministry should move forward. Several recommendations were made during the consultation. President of Animals Alive Kathryn Cleghorn suggested that a national spay and neuter educational campaign be launched.

“If people can take care of their pets, there will be no need for an animal pound,” Cleghorn said.

Vice president of Animals Alive Jowelle De Souza suggested a partnership with her organisation, saying additional kennels could be built on the five-acre Animals Alive sanctuary at Ralph Narine Trace, South Oropouche. She said strays could be re-homed and put up for adoption rather than to have them kept at a pound.

Dr Stacy Hospedales from the TTSPCA said her group was committed to working with the ministry to solve the problem. She said the TTSPCA signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013 for her organisation to assist in running the pound, once a new one was built.

However, she said the MOU was never finalised or executed but noted that the TTSPCA was willing to work with the San Fernando City Corporation to find a solution to the problem.

Veterinary physician and former Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said the entrapment of the strays was inhumane.

“The methodology is outmoded and to treat animals like this is barbaric,” Ramadharsingh said. He said the government should partner with the veterinary community to ensure that sedation is used in the capture of the animals. He suggested that a dog control management programme be executed involving all NGO’s, the veterinary community, and the Government.

Meanwhile, Hinni Maraj, technical officer at the engineering unit of the Ministry of Local Government, said there were plans to build a new dog pound on the existing site which will have 15 kennels to house dangerous dogs and other strays. She said while the numbers were inadequate this would be the first phase of the facility.

She said the dog pound will cater for strays from the seven regional corporations in the south.

Last week, stray dogs which were being kept at the condemned dog pound in San Fernando were rescued and relocated to the Animals Alive facility in South Oropouche.

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