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Animal cruelty enforcement comes under scrutiny after FOI inquiry

One long-time Humane Society volunteer thinks it’s high time someone started enforcing Cayman’s laws regarding cruelty to animals.

Through her FOI request, it was revealed that just one of more than 200 cruelty or neglect cases investigated by the Department of Agriculture this year resulted in prosecution.

“The point is, nobody’s enforcing the law,” said Julie Arnall-Murray.

She told Cayman 27 she’s seen more than her fair share of animal cruelty and neglect cases in her 3 decades of volunteering with the Humane Society.

“And each time, yes, I’m told a full report is made, and I thought, well, on the cause list I never see anybody in court for animal cruelty,” she said.

She said she wasn’t surprised to learn via FOI request that just a tiny percentage of animal cruelty and neglect cases, .004%, lead to prosecution.

“It’s quite clear what animal cruelty is under the animal law. Nobody is enforcing the animal law, and that’s what needs to be done, it needs to be enforced,” she said.

“Under the animals law, any person who beats, mistreats, overworks, neglects, starves, poisons, tortures, infuriates, terrifies, or leaves an animal tethered to the point of unnecessary suffering is committing an offence, one that carries up to a $4000 fine and a year behind bars.

“There’s a difference between educating somebody who is slightly ignorant of looking after a dog or cat or an agricultural animal, and somebody who is cruel, and I don’t think they understand, these cases under the animal law especially, are cases of cruelty and should be prosecuted,” said Ms. Arnall-Murray.

She told Cayman 27 the statistics revealed in the FOI reinforce the public perception that when it comes to animal cruelty, nothing ever gets done.

“At the moment they don’t bother calling because they feel that nothing can be done, because nothing is being done really,” she said.

Cayman 27 reached out to Director of Agriculture Adrian Estwick, who said there’s more to the numbers.

“The 225 incidences include a wide range of animal welfare related calls that are investigated. Hence to simply do a percentage calculation and say that only x% of y reports are prosecuted isn’t fair,” he said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

The DOA told Cayman 27 when an incident of cruelty is reported, it’s logged by a receptionist, who forwards it to the animal welfare officer who investigates the incident by contacting the accused, and making recommendations based on the findings of the inspection.

About the author

Joseph Avary

Joseph Avary

Joe Avary joined the Cayman 27 team in January 2014, bringing nearly two decades of experience in TV news to the islands. He spends his time away from the office scuba diving, practicing yoga, and trying to make his friends laugh at his comedic stylings. He proudly calls the district of West Bay home, and loves nothing more than relaxing visits to the Sister Islands.

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