Specific police officers will be soon assigned to crack down and charge pet owners who ill-treat, abandon, neglect and abuse animals.
The officers will soon be hand-picked by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, who held a recent meeting with animal activists, including Nalini Dial and Marie Tovah-Flament, who for years have been calling on the authorities to crack down on cruel animal owners across the country.
Yesterday, Griffith, an animal lover and owner of four rottweiler dogs, confirmed to Guardian Media that he would assign “specific officers in each division” to accompany animal activists to the homes or businesses of pet owners or individuals who inflict pain or suffering to an animal.
Griffith said the activists had complained that when they approach an owner or person who illtreats an animal they would face abuse or be chased. He said the activists also expressed displeasure that when they reported the ill-treatment to the police, they did not see it as important.
“I see it as being important,” Griffith said.
Griffith said there are also laws to deal with such uncaring individuals.
“If persons are breaking the law, it is our obligation to enforce the laws. This is something that is long overdue.”
By speaking out, Griffith said he hoped this would trigger animal owners to think twice before they act. In the coming days, he said he would again meet with the activists to inform them of his next move.
Griffith said he could not form a dedicated cruelty unit in the TT Police Service to deal with abusive owners, but will mandate specific officers to work alongside the activists, who would visit locations where animals are being ill-treated.
These “handful of officers,” Griffith said, would have to do their regular policing duties also.
“Persons are going to be aware that there are consequences to their actions because the T&T Police Service will be taking a more rigorous approach to deal with persons who abuse animals,” he said.
Griffith said for an owner to inflict harm or torture any animal was “totally unacceptable.”
“There are dogs that are unfed. There are dogs who are hurt. There would be chains on the necks of dogs that would be choking them. That is basic cruelty we have seen here.”
Under the Summary Offences act of 1921 Section 79 (1), any person who cruelly beats, ill-treats, starves, overdrives, overrides, overloads, abuses, tortures or otherwise maltreats any animal is liable to a fine of $400.
Griffith said he will soon hold a media conference to explain “everything in detail” to the public. He said if owners do not have the time, love and commitment to look after an animal, especially dogs and cats, they should hand them over to a shelter who can put them up for adoption.
Dial said for ten years she has been pleading with the police to work with animals activists but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
“No police commissioner ever gave us attention. Griffith is the first. We want to publicly thank Griffith for his intervention,” Dial said.
She said almost half the population were dog owners alone.