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Ministry of Agriculture, VSPCA collaborate to tackle ‘strays’ in SVG

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The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that it will be collaborating with the Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) on its thrust to tackle the increasing incidence of stray dogs and other animals in Kingstown and surrounding areas.{{more}}

Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson and Chief Veterinary Officer Kathian Hackshaw met with several members of the VSPCA on September 4 to assess the implementation of short, medium and long term measures to “curb the unremitted roaming of stray animals”.

“People are becoming so disgusted [that they] are using all kinds of illegal means to poison them… which is something that we do not advocate at all,” Robertson told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.

“We are now working with this special organisation [VSPCA] to see how we could bring some civility toward the management of stray animals.”

The discussion between the Ministry of Agriculture officials and the VSPCA looked at the environmental, social and health problems that this issue presents to the populace, and also to the nation’s blossoming tourism industry.

Matters discussed included: the inconvenience, pollution and health risks stray dogs present; the uncontrolled breeding of dogs; advancement and implementation of legislation; execution of a public education programme; and the provision of assistance to reduce levels of unwanted canine litters.

Robertson explained that presently he, his ministry and other concerned parties are working on updating legislation that is currently in place to deal with the issue.

“There are more progressive pieces of legislation beyond what we had come up with that we recommend,” he said.

In an article dated August 31, 2012, VSPCA president Kiersten Anderson spoke with us about the steadily-increasing stray dog population in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

She said: “Spaying and neutering is essential for the development of the country.

“It’s a humane way to cut down on the rampant stray over-population and all the problems associated with it, including spreading of disease to other animals and humans, and destruction of property and livestock.”

Robertson revealed that stray dogs are not the only animals that are left to roam local communities. He said that farm animals such as cattle, goat and sheep are being “let loose” by their owners, and cause damage, too.

“We are asking the farmers to be more considerate,” he pleaded. “We can’t continue with those kinds of primitive, nomadic practices.”

In an article dated June 7, 2011, SEARCHLIGHT reported that attacks on livestock by stray dogs were costing farmers thousands of dollars. The article stated that between January and March 2011, there were 35 reported cases of livestock loss –which amounted to $14,000.

Robertson said that although attacks on livestock have not increased since then, more needs to be done to curb this particular issue.

He made an appeal for farmers to build “protective housing” for their animals, not only to protect them from stray dogs, but also to prevent them from damaging crops and private property.(JV)

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