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$1,200 fine for pet store pastor with protected animals
A Chaguanas pastor who had ten protected animals—six baby capuchin monkeys and four morocoy turtles—for sale in his pet store was fined $1,200 yesterday. Desmond Ramlogan, 41, pleaded guilty to two charges of having the animals in his store, D’s Pet Shop, Edinburgh Village, Chaguanas.
Ramlogan, who is also a pastor at Redeeming Lifetime Ministries, appeared before Chaguanas Third Court Magistrate Alexander Prince. He was arrested around 3.30 pm on Saturday after game warden Andrew Boyce saw the animals in the store, said police prosecutor Sgt Deochand Gosine.
Yesterday, Ramlogan’s attorney Sunil Seecharan asked for leniency, saying his client was a first-time offender, had pleaded guilty and had co-operated with the wardens. As a pastor, Seecharan said Ramlogan would visit the Maximum Security Prison to preach and lecture to prisoners.
Prince said he had observed recently that people had been “really ignoring the law as it relates to endangered species.” Although protected animals were not for sale, he said, people seemed not to care and for financial gain sought to capture and sell them. “The court cannot tolerate that,” he said, adding such animals should live in the wild and not in a cage.
“We have to be humane to animals just as we have to be humane to our own species, human beings,” Prince said as he recalled recently people were caught slaughtering sea turtles. As a pet store owner, the magistrate said, Ramlogan should set an example by not purchasing protected animals.
“Once you purchase there is a demand and then people will want to supply. That is a form of cruelty to these animals,” Prince added. Noting the maximum penalty for the offence was $1,000, he fined him $500 for the morocoys and $700 for the monkeys. He was ordered to pay both fines immediately or go to jail for three months.
The magistrate ordered the monkeys and morocoys should be taken to the zoo immediately for staff there to decide what would be best for them. Other game wardens involved in the exercise were Andrew George, Bisham Madhu, Jeremy Dindial, Ravi Rampersad and Shiva Dhanpat.